Nolan “Deon” Harvey, Armando Penaloza and Crystal Wicks have been named to the inaugural class of Engineering Technology Scholars.
“Toyota understands that investing in having the right people — empowered with the right skills — can have a transformational impact on their business,” Nelson Akafuah, chair of the Department of Engineering Technology, said. “We are excited to partner with them to welcome the inaugural class of Engineering Technology Toyota Scholars.”
In April, Toyota announced a $1.7 million investment to increase opportunities for underrepresented students and assist them in earning engineering degrees.
The money is being used to support the Toyota Engineering Technology Diversity Scholarship Fund, which provides annual scholarships for undergraduate students from the University of Kentucky, University of Louisville or Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC).
Preference is given to students whose ethnic, racial, gender or background would enhance the diversity of their institution, as long as these preferences are narrowly tailored to the university’s achievement of its interest in obtaining the educational benefits of a diverse student body. However, every student who is enrolled in the program, is a Kentucky resident and has unmet financial need will have an opportunity to compete for the scholarship.
Below you will find more information about each of the 2021 recipients.
Nolan Harvey, Hometown: Lawrenceburg, Kentucky
Harvey is a freshman in the computer engineering technology program at BCTC. The 43-year-old Lawrenceburg native joined the program to expand his knowledge of the hardware and software industry. A husband, father of six and grandfather of two, Harvey hopes to send a message to fellow nontraditional students — that it’s never too late to pursue higher education.
Armando Peñaloza, Hometown: Lexington
Peñaloza is also a freshman in the computer engineering technology program at BCTC. The Lexington native graduated from Frederick Douglass High School last year and joined the Army. Now, Peñaloza has returned to the classroom to expand his knowledge of the technology industry. “I have been intrigued by STEM since I was in middle school. After taking some time off from school, I knew I needed to go back and pursue my passion,” he said. “After learning more about this program and this scholarship opportunity, I was definitely hooked. I’m ready to continue growing.”
Crystal Wicks, Hometown: Georgetown, Kentucky
Wicks is also a BCTC student who is pursuing a degree in computer programming. As a mother, she wanted to return to school to inspire her children. “The computer engineering technology degree combines several areas that I’ve always found interesting, and when I found out about the Toyota scholarship, I decided to go for it,” Wicks said. “My long-term goal is to get a fulfilling job that I love.”
In addition to receiving a full-tuition scholarship, students will also be mentored by Toyota engineers and participate in a paid co-op opportunity with the company earning $17-$21 per hour. Additionally, they will complete two to three co-op rotations that will provide critical hands-on experience.
“Toyota has been a longtime partner of UK, since locating in Kentucky nearly 35 years ago,” Rudolph Buchheit, dean of UK Engineering, said in a previous UKNow release. “This is another example of Toyota seeing a need and stepping up to do something about it. It’s imperative to increase gender and ethnic diversity among our faculty, staff and students.”
Beginning with this cohort of recipients, 35 students over a five-year period will be selected to receive full-tuition scholarships. In addition to the preferences, participation in the program and Kentucky residency status, recipients will be determined after a review of the applicants’ qualifications, such as academic merit, extracurricular and volunteer activities, and professional goals.