When Terry Collins was a high school student in Kansas City, Missouri, attending local colleges after graduation was the norm. “I went to a college night at my high school and I didn’t like standing in line, so I found one table that happened to have no line. I walked up to the representative and asked, ‘What is MIT?’” That fall, Terry matriculated at MIT—becoming the first member of his family to attend college.
“MIT completely changed my life,” says Terry. “I became a more confident person and learned how to learn, which helped me adapt later in life.” It was because of this influence that Terry and his wife, Alisann, started giving back to MIT.
After MIT, Terry worked his way up through different engineering companies, then set out on his own with two friends to form what eventually became Argon ST, a systems development and engineering company. Drawing on the experience he gained at MIT, Terry led the company for 13 years until it was acquired by Boeing in 2010. He ultimately retired in 2013.
Terry and Alisann decided that giving with “a focus to help first-generation students get to college and graduate from MIT would create a legacy of upward mobility.” Not only is the fund they established assisting these students financially, but Terry also meets with them to discuss how else he might help them succeed while at MIT: “If they’re here, and I’ve funded them to help them get through with the scholarship, I’d like to see them be successful.”