The annual BSCAI Stephen H. Swigart Scholarship for Higher Education provides building service contractors (BSCs) and their families an opportunity to pursue higher education. Eleanor Meng is the 2023 recipient, and she is entering her senior year at Lawrence University in northern Wisconsin. Her major is Biology with a minor in Religious Studies.
“Lawrence University is a really small liberal arts college,” she said during a recent interview. “It’s given me a Humanities side to my science major. It’s only undergraduate students, and I like the small class sizes and how close I am with many of my professors. They have some really cool biology programs, too.”
Meng is the daughter of BSCAI member Michael Meng, an accountant for Kleen-Tech Services LLC in Colorado, the family’s home state. Eleanor recalled, “My dad forwarded me the e-mail this past summer and said, ‘I think you should apply! You definitely qualify.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, cool!’ Basically, if you were related to a member or a member yourself, you could apply.”
She continued, “He ended up sending it to me a bit on the later side. I had about a week to do it. I looked at past scholarship recipients and what they were looking for. I also read up on the person who the scholarship is named for. And then I obtained some recommendations from professors at my school and uploaded them. The essay was probably the biggest part. BSCAI wanted me to write about what is a big goal in my life and what have been some of my biggest achievements. The goal question, for me, is always a hard one to answer. It took me a few drafts, and I was able to craft a response that was about my dad. Having my dad watch me graduate college is going to be one of my biggest achievements. I graduated high school during the pandemic. And while we did have a ceremony, it wasn’t quite the same as in ‘normal times.’ My dad has been so involved in my academic work since I was a little kid. He has had SUCH a huge influence on my schooling and education! So, it really will mean a lot to me for him to see me graduate this year.”
Meng’s studies have indeed mostly focused on aquatic and marine biology. The past three years, she has had several opportunities to conduct research in locations ranging from northern Wisconsin studying tiny crustaceans to scuba diving in the Caribbean studying cleaner fish. And, yes, she is planning to pursue graduate school in a biology-related field. In her free time, she loves to hike in the mountains and swim in Wisconsin’s numerous lakes.
She said, “When I found out I won, I was so happy. I didn’t really know when I would hear back. I was back home in Colorado from my summer internship when I found out. I told both of my parents right away! The scholarship gives me some additional and much needed funding for my schooling. I am indeed planning on continuing on to graduate school and possibly even a PhD. Getting funds to continue my education allows me to keep doing what I love, and it makes it so I don’t have to put so much on my parents for my education.”
Meng made sure before our interview was over to relay a special thanks to those at BSCAI who made this possible for her. “I just want to thank BSCAI very much for providing me with this scholarship,” she concluded. “It was wonderful to hear that for my senior year, I would have this extra funding to finish up strong. I really appreciate the members putting their trust in me. It just means a lot!”