INDIANAPOLIS—Indiana University alumna Karen McBride Christensen and her husband, Bill Christensen have generously gifted the Purdue School of Science at IUPUI $112,000 in scholarship funds.
The Christensen’s are passionate about increasing diversity in the STEM fields, and this scholarship award will support African American first-generation students as they work toward earning a STEM degree. The School of Science plans to award the first McBride Family Equity Scholarship this academic year.
“I really want this gift to have the ability to change someone’s life as much as possible,” said Karen McBride Christensen.
Both Karen and Bill had fathers who served in World War II which allowed them to use the G.I. bill to pay for their first-generation college educations. Many African American soldiers were denied this assistance. The G.I. bill impacted their families so greatly that Karen wondered what it would be like if they did not have that kind of benefit.
“It opened my eyes and made me aware of the situation that we have right now in terms of racial injustice,” said Karen.
This realization motivated Karen and Bill to use some of their savings to fund scholarships.
“We were able to go to school and receive degrees because of our family's gift of the G.I. bill. We want to give to somebody else who potentially did not have the same opportunities, because of the unfair exclusion of African Americans at the time,” explained Karen.
Karen graduated from the Kelly School of Business at Indiana University Bloomington in 1980 earning a bachelor's degree. She also received a master’s degree from Indiana University in 1984. Karen began her career at the Dow Chemical Company. She also worked at Eli Lilly and Company.
Karen’s husband Bill is a 1980 graduate of the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering. Bill moved from his home state of Michigan to Indianapolis and started his own IT consulting business.
Karen believes higher education is important, coming from a family of educators, “I grew up learning and loving learning and I just don't think we should ever stop,” said Karen. “Higher education is the great equalizer for people trying to get ahead.”
Karen and Bill chose to support STEM majors specifically because they wanted this gift to have the ability to change lives as much as possible, and they believe STEM majors give students the best chance at having multiple options for their career and future success.
“I want our scholarship recipients to feel hope. There's a huge difference in the opportunities that we have, and I just want this person to have hope that people are starting to understand that, and things can change,” said Karen.
Going forward Karen hopes this gift will inspire others to either contribute to this scholarship or set up their own.
The School of Science is in the process of selecting a student recipient for the McBride Family Equity Scholarship for this academic year. Students can review criteria for this scholarship and other scholarship opportunities and apply on the School of Science website under admissions.