Cornell’s chapter of the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) was recognized for its excellence when four of its current members received scholarships at the IFMA World Workplace conference held in Toronto earlier this month.
Graduate students Sourojit Dhar, Ruchika Jaitli and Annie Wang, together with Anne Behl ’03, were each presented with $1,000 scholarships.
IFMA is a non-profit organization designed to “specifically identify, fund and promote education and research for the advancement of facility management” according to an IFMA news release.
According to IFMA faculty advisor Prof. William Sims, facility planning and management, Cornell students made up an impressive percentage of the recipients.
“Four out of the 11 scholarships offered were given to current Cornell students, and another one of the scholarships was received by a Cornell alum who is now at Wharton working on her doctorate,” he said.
Behl was particularly excited to hear news of receiving the Lee Forrest Scholarship.
“I was delighted to hear that I got [the scholarship]. It was especially meaningful because my scholarship was in memory of an IFMA board member who recently passed away, and her mom and sister were there to congratulate me,” she said.
This year marked the first time that the Lee Forrest Scholarship was awarded.
Behl, a design and environmental analysis major, also serves as the current IFMA president.
“Our purpose is to be resourceful and to develop members both academically and professionally through networking,” she said. Job searches, internship forums, and resume workshops are just a few of the many projects that IFMA sponsors for its members each year.
Dhar, the association’s vice president, received the Doug Underwood scholarship. He is currently pursuing his master’s degree in facilities planning management.
Jaitli, who is currently studying facility planning and management, received the Tuohy Scholarship.
Wang, who is also working towards her master’s degree in facility planning and management, was presented with the DuPont Flooring Scholarship.
“I am really grateful for the scholarship,” she said. “It is such a great opportunity for me, and it’s helpful to my studies.”
A nine-member judging panel that consisted of IFMA members and professionals in financial management awarded the scholarships. The winners were announced in August.
Sims believes that having such a high number of Cornell students receive these awards is not unusual. “I have been an advisor to this club for 15 years,” he said. “We generally see at least three or so students receive scholarships each year. These students are all outgoing, aggressive, and entrepreneurial, and they work very hard.”
Each of the winners was treated to free lodging and travel expenses so that they could attend the IFMA Workplace conference in Toronto to accept their awards.
“The event was wonderful,” Behl said. “I met so many professionals and made great contacts. We were actually invited to stay for a Monday and Tuesday conference, but I could only stay for the weekend.”
Cornell’s chapter of IFMA was the first student chapter of IFMA worldwide ever founded. Comprised of approximately 25 graduate and undergraduate students, the club has carried on a tradition of excellence since 1985.
According to Behl, her involvement with the group has been an influential part of her Cornell education.
“[IFMA] definitely increased my professional awareness in general. As a member and as president I have been to conferences and gained management and leadership skills. The networking that we do has been very beneficial for all of us,” she said.
IFMA is based in Houston, TX and has approximately 18,000 members in 130 chapters worldwide.
Archived article by Jennifer Thompson