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A graduate award and research grant opened up a world of opportunity for Kusumakar Bhusal at SIUE, a university he first learned about a half a world away from Edwardsville, Ill.

As an undergraduate environmental science student at Katmandu University in Nepal, Kusumakar met SIUE Associate Professor of Geography Mark Hildebrandt, a visiting professor who brought his expertise to Kusumakar's classrooms and told him about SIUE's graduate program in geography with a specialization in geographic information systems (GIS).

Inspired by a wildlife research position with the World Wildlife Fund, where he met GIS professionals using their skills and technology to explain how the global environment is changing, Kusumakar hoped to enroll in SIUE's graduate program ingeography to pursue a similar career path. Just a few years later with the help of a Competitive Graduate Award, Kush not only enrolled in SIUE's program but also reconnected with Hildebrandt, who served as his thesis advisor.

Kusumakar also received a research grant from the Graduate School to pursue his Master's thesis on using satellite remote sensing techniques to study the Urban Heat Island effect in the St. Louis area.

"After learning more about the SIUE GIS program, I loved it," Kusumakar said. But without the financial assitance, pursuing his dream would have been impossible. "The currency conversion would have made it difficult to attend SIUE."

Contributions to SIUE's Graduate School help fund scholarships that give students like Kusumakar the opportunity to pursue their dreams. An affordable SIUE education equips students with the skills they need to thrive in the global marketplace and make our world a better place to live.

Following Kusumakar's graduation from SIUE, he was hired by Monsanto in St. Louis as a GIS analyst. Using the image processing skills he learned at SIUE, Kusumakar analyzes satellite images to help farmers yield more from their fields. "The skills and knowledge I gained during my time at SIUE have helped me immensely in my career path.

The journey that Kusumakar began at SIUE continues; he's been accepted into the GIS doctoral program at Kansas University, but deferred entrance until fall 2011 so he can "soak up" as many GIS skills as possible on the job at Monsanto. During his doctoral studies, Kusumakar plans to pursue research that will help the public gain a better understanding of global warming and arctic ice melting.

"Receiving a scholarship means a lot. It provides the financial resources to explore and realize your dreams," Kusumakar said. "Making a donation to a Graduate School scholarship fund opens a way to the future for students like me."

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