Investing in the Lives of People
"The point in life is to do good and to leave the place better than when you showed up," says Steve Lukasik '51. A well-educated and successful scientist, Steve is definitely fulfilling his philosophy for a successful life. As a result of his commitment to a better future, Rensselaer students will benefit from his generosity for years to come through the Stephen J. Lukasik '51 Scholarship.
A native of Staten Island, Steve was always drawn to the field of science. With the assistance of a full-tuition scholarship from the RPI Alumni Association, Steve earned a bachelor's degree in physics from RPI. He went on to receive a doctorate in physics from MIT and then to a rewarding career that ran the gamut from technical work to managerial positions in industry, government, and academic settings.
Throughout the years, Steve has never forgotten the institutions that made him the man he is today, starting with RPI. "What RPI did was take a relatively clean slate of a mind and shape it," says Steve. He has come to believe that "the whole essence of society is an intergenerational transfer—of knowledge … of values … and of assets." That's why Steve is giving back to RPI as a means of saying thanks. It's also his way of doing his part today to make the world a better place tomorrow.
While it's important to make sure the buildings and institutions remain intact for the future, "you have to make sure the people are able to go there." Steve believes the most important investment he can make is in the lives of future young people through need-based scholarships. Therefore, he and his wife, Ginny, have designated funds from his IRA to go to RPI upon their deaths to fund the Stephen J. Lukasik '51 Scholarship.
"Some people like to have their name on a building, but buildings have a finite life," Steve remarks. He would rather see his name live on through his scholarship recipients each year. "This has a more satisfying way of propagating a name."