Tim Ausec is Driven to Empowerment as First-Generation Student

Wednesday, April 10, 2024
As a first-generation college student Tim Ausec

Electrical Engineering major Tim Ausec is a recent recipient of the Realizing the Dream scholarship, which is awarded to first-generation Indiana college students based on their outstanding achievement during the first year at their colleges or universities. 

Tim Ausec believes that a college education is the ultimate empowerment tool. As a first-generation college student, Ausec is experiencing this for himself as a sophomore at Rose-Hulman. He knows that earning a degree will not only help students like him command a higher salary, but that empowerment will translate back to his family and community. Yet even beyond the monetary aspects, Ausec feels that empowerment is equally important in other ways.

“The skills and experiences you gain in college … these are the things that reverberate through your existence,” said Ausec, who is majoring in electrical engineering. “It’s an understanding that you have the power to affect the world and change it.”

Born in the Chicago Heights area, Ausec moved to and grew up in the small city of Knox, Indiana. His graduating high school class was 137 students. He knew he wanted to study engineering in college and looked for a smaller school that would be academically rigorous and fast paced. For Ausec, it was the student competition teams that really solidified his choice to attend Rose-Hulman.

“I was really excited to come to Rose for the extra-curricular [student competition] teams at the BIC [Branam Innovation Center],” said Ausec. “I wanted to come here and take the extra initiative to flesh out my skills in order to go into the job force getting what I want.”

It is that initiative that led Ausec to apply for—and receive—a $4,000 Realizing the Dream scholarship. The scholarship is offered to first-generation Indiana college students by Independent Colleges of Indiana, through Lilly Endowment Inc. support. Students were selected based on their outstanding achievement during the first year at their colleges or universities. 

One of the challenges Ausec faced as a first-generation student applying to college is a lack of resources for his journey; specifically, lack of support because those around him had not gone through college application processes.

“I did all the research myself and had to find sources I could trust to help me apply for college,” said Ausec. “Things like, what does taking out debt look like and how do I apply for a student loan. My family couldn’t help because my parents hadn’t done that themselves.”

Ausec hopes that receiving the Realizing the Dream scholarship will not only help him continue his growth in college, but also be an inspiration to his family.

“I’m the oldest out of three siblings and my cousins,” he said. “I’ve always been the first to do things. The scholarship is personally meaningful because it helps me to show my family that we can do these things. I didn’t know what college would be like until I got here, and now I have a lot of lessons to bring back to my family. … It’s cool to be an inspiration, and even more for the people you love.”

He feels a deep sense of personal satisfaction from helping other people succeed, and that drives him in every path he’s taken. 

“In high school, I was a mentor to a lot of students. I tutored members of the wrestling team in high school because my family is into wrestling and my little brother is a wrestler. … I care about helping people out and helping them succeed. I want to be impactful to others to have meaning in my life.” 

In his nearly two years on campus, Ausec has been involved with many competition teams and different opportunities. He started with the campus robotics team and marvels how, through robotics, he gained hands-on experience and learned concepts during his first quarter that are now being taught in classes. He joined the Rose-Hulman Electric Propulsion Group (RHEPG) and as part of that group, he co-authored a paper that was presented at the IEEE Aerospace Conference in early 2024. Ausec was also part of the Rose Small Satellite (SmallSat) team, which is working to build a satellite that will be part of a NASA rocket to launch into orbit. Ausec said the smaller team environments hold a lot of challenges that helped him hone his leadership skills. 

“Through those teams, I learned a lot about things engineering curriculum doesn’t teach, like management and people skills, and how to deal with economic issues,” said Ausec.

Ausec is also in the ESCALATE cohort and is working to resurrect Rose-Hulman’s student newspaper. This summer, Ausec will intern with Omega Engineering and Dwyer Instruments. While he is still deciding what his post-Rose future will look like, Ausec is certain his number one goal is to make a positive impact in people’s lives.