Taking the Lead

By Madeline Swanson

From a young age, Kori Maxie loved two things: sports and science. 

Featured engineering student, Kori Maxie, in front of campus building
Beyond being widely involved in organizations both on and off campus, Kori also studied materials engineering abroad at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Growing up in Southfield, Michigan, she and her three siblings participated in the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP), sparking an early interest in engineering, math, and science. A member of DAPCEP from fourth grade until she graduated high school, Kori spent many Saturday mornings building and testing model rockets, using software programs to create virtual theme parks, and more.

“I was the one who really took to the program, and I was really strong in both science and math,” Kori said.

When she wasn’t focusing on becoming the first engineer in her family, she was playing sports. “It all started with basketball—I’ve always loved it. It eventually snowballed into a passion for athletics in general.” 

By her junior year at West Bloomfield High School, Kori was captain of the varsity basketball team, a member of the track and field squad, and had even joined the school’s Powerlifting Club, along with her duties as student council treasurer and state ambassador for the National Society for High School Scholars. So when it came time to apply to colleges, Kori was eager to find a school that excelled in both academics and athletics, like she did, as well as a place where she could continue to stay active in student organizations. 

Kori’s top choice was the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering (COE). 

“I called my mom as soon as I received the acceptance letter from Michigan, and we were both ecstatic. It was truly an amazing moment,” Kori said. “But the problem came when we didn’t really know how we would pay for my schooling. So I started applying for any scholarships I could find.”

It wasn’t long before she received exciting news from the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan (AAUM) and the COE. Years of serving as a team captain, student council representative, peer mentor, and more were about to pay off.

Kori and a group of students posing outdoors in front of a building
Kori with the 2019-20 National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Region IV Executive Board at the annual Regional Leadership Conference in Indianapolis.

Through AAUM, Kori received a LEAD Scholarship, which provides resources and scholarship support for students who embody leadership, excellence, achievement, and diversity (LEAD). But it wasn’t until Kori found out she had received the Mary L. Petrovich Scholarship for Future Leaders that she knew her dream of attending U-M could be a reality. The Petrovich Scholarship provides up to four years of tuition support to aspiring engineers who demonstrate remarkable leadership potential and have interest in organizations like the Society of Women Engineers. Preference is given to those with financial need.

“The [Petrovich Scholarship] was honestly the missing puzzle piece that I needed in order to pursue my dream of going to Michigan,” Kori said. 

Beyond lifting the financial burden of a Michigan education, these scholarships opened new doors for Kori to grow as an influential leader and future engineer. At U-M, Kori has been a research assistant through the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP), an ambassador for the Michigan Engineering Leadership Weekend, a member of the LEAD Scholars Program executive board, and an outreach chair for the Michigan Materials Society—all while climbing the ranks as a member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and staying active in intramural sports. Through the NSBE, Kori has served on the board of directors for U-M’s chapter, and currently serves as the pre-college initiative chair responsible for hosting a conference for children ages K-12 to stimulate interest in STEM fields.

Kori and a group of students pose for a photo at an awards ceremony
Kori at the NSBE Golden Torch Awards, which recognizes excellence among technical professionals, corporate, government and academic leaders, and university and pre-college students.

By her junior year, she began to realize that her passion for sports and science could intersect when she learned about internship opportunities at Nike—a company she has loved since she was first lacing up her basketball shoes as a child. Now, as a rising senior at U-M and a Global Footwear Materials Developer Intern for Nike, she’s not only sporting shoes from their latest line—she’s helping create them. 

“I wanted to intern for Nike ever since I heard it was a possibility through the College of Engineering,” Kori said. “To live out and fulfill this dream on top of my dream of graduating from Michigan is beyond exciting.”

The Mary L. Petrovich Scholarship for Future Leaders was created by Mary Petrovich (BSEIO ’85), operating executive of The Carlyle Group and philanthropist.

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