Kerstin Cleveland
Kerstin Cleveland
Ben Wittbrodt
Ben Wittbrodt
“It's not like the Big Ten schools. It's welcoming and easy to get involved.”

Legacy Awards

by Dennis Walikainen '92 '09

Passing the Tech torch


Mike Cleveland ’82 swears he did not talk his daughter, Kerstin, into attending Michigan Tech. He didn’t have to.

"She applied, was accepted, then said, ‘Okay, I’m going to Tech.’"

Kerstin lived out of state, in Illinois, so her tuition could have been double that of in-state students. However, as the daughter of an alumnus, she was entitled to an Alumni Legacy Award, which allows the children and grandchildren of alumni to pay the Michigan resident tuition rate. Should those alumni kids or grandkids live in Michigan, they still qualify for up to $250 a year in additional financial help during their Tech career, up to $1,000.

Kerstin’s mom, Marie Cleveland ’82, earned a business degree, but Kerstin followed her dad into chemical engineering and is earning a second major in pharmaceutical chemistry, with the aim of working in pharmaceutical R&D after graduation.

"I enjoy the small class sizes," the sophomore says of her Michigan Tech experience. "It’s not like the Big Ten schools. It’s welcoming and easy to get involved."

The Legacy Award has definitely made the University more affordable, but being the daughter of alumni has an additional benefit. "It made me get involved faster, so I would have an impact on Tech, like my parents did," says Kerstin, who is a member of about half a dozen student organizations and active in intramural sports.

Like Kerstin, Ben Wittbrodt was marked for Michigan Tech early on.

"He loved to build things, and he loved motors," his mother, Linda (Johnson) Wittbrodt ’83 says. "We encouraged him to look elsewhere, but he’d been to Tech and loved the outdoors stuff."

Both his parents have been enthusiastic Tech supporters most of his life, so it’s no surprise he would look to Houghton when choosing a university. Linda is a member of the Presidential Council of Alumnae, and she and husband Gary Wittbrodt ’83 (both computer science majors; Gary also has a general engineering degree) are active in their alumni chapter.

Today, Ben is a photographer for the Lode as he pursues his materials science degree. He’s also involved with the gymnastics club and loves all the "cool things" of the Experience Tech program.

As for the Legacy Award, "It’s helped with buying textbooks, definitely."

Ben still loves to tinker and would like to continue to do so in graduate school. "I’d like to end up in the semiconductor industry, or working with solar panels or GPS devices, any of the technical, geeky toys."

Five of the Wittbrodts’ friends also have children attending the University, Linda says: "When we go back to Houghton, it’s like our own little reunion." And if all their offspring opt to take advantage of Legacy Awards, those reunions could be even bigger.