For two years, the Peck Scholarship for Undergraduate Conference Attendance has enabled systems science and industrial engineering undergraduates with an interest in healthcare to attend the Society for Health Systems annual Healthcare Systems Process Improvement Conference. Jennine Lopez ’15 won the award in 2014; this year’s recipient is James Winkleblack ’15.
Harpur alumnus Fred Peck ’66 and his son, Watson alumnus and health systems expert Jordan Peck ’06, established the award to give students the chance to benefit from an educational experience that is outside traditional program curricula.
Fred, who retired from careers as a Wall Street economist and a special education administrator for the City of New York, says the scholarship is another way to give back to his alma mater. “I had an exceptional college experience at Harpur — which by no means makes me unique, but it certainly makes me grateful — and from that sense of gratitude for my education comes a sense of responsibility for helping to ensure the availability of educationally related experiences for current students,” he says.
James Winkleblack, right, with SSIE chair Nagen Nagarur. Winkleblack received the Peck Scholarship in 2015.
Watson professor Mohammad Khasawneh at the 2014 Healthcare Systems Process Improvement Conference with Peck scholarship recipient Jennine Lopez and Jordan Peck.
Jordan, program manager for value improvement at MaineHealth, admits to being a little selfish in choosing which event the scholarship funds. “I always go to this conference, so I get to know the students who receive the awards,” he says. “I can take them out to lunch, connect them with professors and professionals, and help them make the most out of their experience.”
Last year Jordan introduced Lopez to a colleague at Northeastern University. Through that meeting she gained a summer internship that turned into current employment (she works remotely).
“The people I met at the conference were my first serious professional contacts whom I knew I could look to for job opportunities and career advice,” Lopez says. “The presentations provided a wealth of knowledge that complemented what I learned in the classroom. I was able to see real-life applications of concepts and whether or not they succeed in a specific environment.”
“The Peck Scholarship gave me an opportunity to explore a field of interest in a way that I would have otherwise been unable to do,” Winkleblack says. “I am currently working part time while attending school; most of my income goes to living expenses for my wife and me. This leaves little discretionary income for events like the conference. I am positive the networking and exposure to industrial engineering in healthcare will prove invaluable throughout my career.”
Lopez and Winkleblack say the conference helped them decide to pursue graduate studies in Watson’s Executive Master of Science in Health Systems program. Jordan couldn’t be happier. “Watson’s health systems engineering program is really gaining renown in the industry,” he says. “It’s a big deal. The program gets some really great students, and it’s nice to be a part of that.”