University Mentorship offers two primary awards to recognize mentors for outstanding service to the program each year.
Mentor of the Year (MOTY) Award
Acknowledges outstanding peer and faculty/staff mentors each year. MOTY winners have made a special effort to connect with mentees; participate in significant activities and interactions with mentees; enrich mentees' understanding of culture, the arts, current events and campus resources; and have an overall positive impact on mentees’ experiences at U-M. MOTY winners are revealed at the Mentorship Closing Celebration in December.
Ronald G. Lai Memorial Scholarship
The scholarship was created in 2018 by the Lai family in memory of their son, brother, and friend, Ronald G. Lai. Two $2,500 scholarships are awarded to two Peer Mentor of the Year recipients in recognition of their outstanding mentorship and positive impact on first-year students.
About the Scholarship
Ronald (Ron) George Lai, a University of Michigan graduate (B.S. Mathematics ’04), was a beloved son, brother, and friend who had a passion for life and believed in the value of mentorship. Ron was a lifelong learner who focused on continuous self-improvement and broadening his perspective. As a Michigan undergraduate, he actively sought out ways to interact with diverse groups of people. He joined a multicultural fraternity, a South Asian dance troupe, Toastmasters, and the wrestling team, and volunteered for a myriad of causes. Due to his charisma, natural leadership, and fantastic sense of humor, Ron was seen as a coach and mentor by his peers. Following graduation, Ron joined the youth Asian mentorship program, ASCEND, becoming one of their most visible young leaders taking the stage at national events. During this time, on a fortuitous subway ride in New York, Ron met and formed a lifelong relationship with Lou Grumet, a former lawyer, accountant and executive director of the New York State School Boards Association. Through Lou’s guidance, encouragement, and friendship, Ron strengthened his resolve to be a better mentor to others.
Ron’s dynamic career in mathematics and technology took him around the United States and internationally, including Boston, Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington D.C., Sydney, Australia, and Jakarta, Indonesia. Ron built a solid network of friends and colleagues everywhere he went. He was highly respected as someone who was reliable and selfless with his time. His capability, ambition, and work ethic led him to high-achieving circles, but he paid no attention to others' career or social status. If you were intellectually curious and caring like he was, you were in. Ron was happiest when he could bounce ideas off of others and help people achieve their full potential. His capacity to love, to learn, and to forgive was remarkable. He made the world a kinder and more interesting place. He maintained deep and long-term connections and was always there for anyone who needed him. He was a career counselor, startup mentor, tech investor, and business and social connector. Many friends and former colleagues credit his help with their admission into graduate school and/or securing their jobs.
The Ronald G. Lai Mentorship Memorial Scholarship will keep the spirit of Ron alive by honoring those who also dedicate themselves to the pursuit of helping others through mentorship.