When Tim Schuler, then a Lockport, New York teen, read Cosmos and Six Easy Pieces by the renowned physicists Carl Sagan and Richard Feynman, respectively, new worlds opened up. They also steered him toward the illustrious academic career he’s now completing at Buffalo State.
He competed on the Newfane High School Robotics Team, took as many advanced placement classes as he could, and graduated seventh in his class. When he started looking at colleges, Schuler said he fell in love with Buffalo State’s Physics Department.
“When I first visited the department, I was impressed with the emphasis on computation that the upper-class majors engaged in, thanks to professor Coffey [now chair of physics],” said Schuler.
However, as one of five children, Schuler knew that in order to attend college he would need financial assistance. He applied for all the scholarships he thought he qualified for and ended up landing five during his college career.
What solidified his decision to attend Buffalo State was being named a recipient of the prestigious Robert A. and Dorothy Stende Sweet Physics Scholarship, which awards students $4,000 per year for four years. He also received the Ross B. Kenzie Family Presidential Scholarship, the Muriel A. Howard Honors Program Scholarship, the DeWayne Beery Physics Scholarship, and the Mildred K. Vogelsang Scholarship, all of which are funded in part through the college’s annual Faculty and Staff Appeal.
Together, the scholarships covered his tuition and a portion of his living expenses.
“Contributions from alumni, faculty, and staff enabled me to focus on school rather than worry about finances,” said Schuler. “I also was able to pursue undergraduate research in the summers.”
Those summer physics-based research projects included studying the brain’s ability to detect frequency shifts at the University of Minnesota; modeling the galaxy’s magnetic field at Ohio State University; and analyzing data collected from high-resolution images of the sun’s atmosphere for NASA at the University of Alabama.
Additionally, this semester he has a paid internship as a software developer for a defense contractor in Cheektowaga, and throughout the past two years, he has volunteered his time mentoring students in the college’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP).
“The mentoring experience helped me build confidence,” he said. “You have to dive deeper into a subject when you are teaching it to someone else.”
Schuler plans to begin a graduate program in industrial engineering in the fall, with a long-term goal of earning a doctorate and possibly working in academia.
“These scholarships have made a tremendous difference to me and my family,” said Schuler. “As I move on to graduate studies and a possible career as a professor, one thing is certain about my future: I plan to be a role model and give back to support the dreams and hard work of students who come after me.”
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