CSM Foundation Director Names Scholarship for his Mentor

CSM Foundation Director Alland Leandre, right, discussed career goals with Mary Mills of Bel Alton, the first recipient of the Oreta Stinson Memorial Engineering Scholarship that Leandre created for CSM students majoring in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.
CSM Foundation Director Alland Leandre, right, discussed career goals with Mary Mills of Bel Alton, the first recipient of the Oreta Stinson Memorial Engineering Scholarship that Leandre created for CSM students majoring in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

LA PLATA, Md.—When College of Southern Maryland Foundation Director Alland Leandre learned of the passing of a mentor and longtime friend he wanted to do something meaningful that would commemorate her life. His mentor, Charles County resident Oreta Stinson, had been the small business coordinator working as a civilian at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. and worked for the F-18 Program at NAVAIR Crystal City when Leandre met her.

“She was one of those people that made life better for those around her. The difference she made in my life was so significant,” Leandre said. “I was in my 20s working as a contractor and I thought I was going to be the CEO of Ford Motor Company one day. She got me thinking about the kind of impact I wanted to have on the world. She was very inspirational in me wanting to get involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and helping young people.” Not only has Leandre dedicated his time to introducing young students to the possibilities of STEM careers, he also is financially supporting their dreams by establishing a CSM scholarship in Stinson’s memory.

In 2008, Leandre organized the first Youth in Technology Summit in Southern Maryland at CSM’s Leonardtown Campus to introduce middle and high school students to exciting careers in STEM. The summit attracted hundreds of youngsters to explore STEM fields, experience exciting demonstrations with cutting-edge technology and imagine futures in science. Since then, and through other STEM activities supported by the CSM Foundation, Leandre has helped inspire and encourage thousands of Southern Maryland elementary, middle and high school students.

The Oreta Stinson Memorial Engineering Scholarship that Leandre created in 2014 provides funds for CSM students majoring in science, technology, engineering or mathematics who are residents of Southern Maryland and have a minimum grade point average of 3.0. Applicants must be able to demonstrate community or extracurricular involvement through a one-page essay.

Stinson grew up in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from North Carolina A&T State University and a master’s degree in business and public administration from Southeastern University in Washington, D.C. Stinson worked as a program manager at Naval Air Systems Command and was deputy director of Navy Small Business where she was responsible for implementation of the federal acquisition programs designed to assist small businesses, including small disadvantaged businesses, women-owned businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned businesses, historically underutilized business zone businesses and Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Institutions. She earned the Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award and the Department of Defense Spirit Award. She passed away June 7, 2012.

The first recipient of the Stinson scholarship is Mary Mills, 20, of Bel Alton, who is graduating this spring with a degree in biology. During a scholarship reception at CSM and at a subsequent gathering, Mills and Leandre discussed her goal to become a doctor in the field of osteopathic medicine (DO) which espouses a preventive health care and “whole person” approach to medicine rather than a symptoms approach.

"Blood is considered a connective tissue that intertwines all of the bodily systems, so an issue with one’s blood could have effects on any of the said systems. Everything is interconnected. That is what is fascinating and intriguing to me and why I want to study osteopathic medicine,” Mills said.

When Mills had graduated from La Plata High School in 2012, she was wait-listed at her first choice of colleges and decided to come to CSM. “I wasn’t really upset about not getting my first choice, because I knew people that had gone to CSM and who encouraged me to pursue a student assistant job while attending college. After a semester at CSM, and having all my AP courses transfer over, I knew I had made the right decision so I planned to continue here to earn my associate degree,” she said. Mills will graduate this May and plans to transfer to the University of South Carolina to study biochemistry and molecular biology with a minor in medical humanities in the fall.

“It is such a novel thing that you want to be a DO,” Leandre told Mills. “The human body is so complex; we need physicians who are trained in total health of the body. It’s not just a ‘take this and call me in the morning’ approach. I look forward to watching you graduate and seeing you come back to Southern Maryland to practice.”

Leandre was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and immigrated to Washington, D.C. when he was in high school. After graduating from Woodrow Wilson High School, he attended Syracuse University and earned a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering in 1988. He worked with Stinson on the F-18 program and then left government to pursue post-graduate studies. After earning a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, Leandre founded Vyalex Management Solutions, Inc., an engineering and program management consulting firm.

He was named Entrepreneur Black Engineer of the Year in 2008, a Maryland Top 100 Minority Business Enterprise in 2007 and the Foreign-born Information and Referral Network (FIRN), American Success Award in 2006 which, in partnership with Howard County government, Howard County Economic Development Authority, and the Howard County Chamber of Commerce, celebrates the achievements of Howard County's foreign-born business community.

“I created the scholarship because I miss Oreta and I wasn’t able to go to her funeral,” said Leandre. “She did so much for people and she deserves so much more.” In addition to Leandre, the scholarship is funded by others who knew Stinson.

By carrying on Stinson’s good deeds through the creation of a scholarship that bears her name, Leandre feels that her impact in the world will continue—especially with recipients such as Mills, he said. “Knowing Oreta, she would be very proud of Mary. She had a passion for young people and wanted to see them do well.”

The CSM Foundation awarded funds for 27 named memorial scholarships for the 2014-15 academic year. To learn how to help impact students through scholarship donations, contact the CSM Foundation at www.csmd.edu/Foundation or contact the Development Office at 301-934-7649.

For a listing of CSM scholarships and instructions on how to apply for scholarships, visit www.csmd.edu/Financial/scholarships/scholarships.html.

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