Photo: Dillon Hensley, a senior physics student, is the first recipient of Triangle Fraternity’s Chris Ducic Scholarship.
Richmond, VA (May 5, 2017) - Dillon Hensley is completing his bachelor of science in physics with help from a program named for an outstanding engineering student: the Chris Ducic Scholarship. Hensley is the first recipient of this award, which was established by VCU’s Triangle Fraternity, a social fraternity for science, engineering and architecture students. The scholarship is named for Chris Ducic, an academic standout in the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering and founding member of Triangle who passed away during his senior year in 2015.
“The best way to remember Chris is by remembering his work ethic and intellect. He had a big personality— that’s for sure — but also a very strong intellect. A scholarship named after him keeps that idea front and center,” said Zachary Cullingsworth, a graduate student in mechanical and nuclear engineering and Triangle member. Jeffrey Wilson, a mechanical and nuclear engineering senior and Triangle past president, recalled that five or six brothers approached him individually to suggest a scholarship. “When it happens that spontaneously, it’s the right thing to do,” he said.
The Chris Ducic Scholarship is funded through VCU’s Triangle brotherhood and anonymous donations from two other VCU student organizations. It is awarded to the Triangle member with the highest GPA and may be applied to tuition, supplies and other study-related expenses.
Hensley’s status as the first recipient of the Ducic Scholarship is one more way that physics sometimes crosses with engineering. As a student worker in the School of Engineering, Hensley is immersed in the engineering discipline via research posters around West Hall. “The recognition the School of Engineering gets is amazing. I also attended the Capstone Design Expo last year and was really impressed,” he said, adding that this would have pleased Ducic. “When I arrived at Triangle in 2015, the brothers pointed him out and said, ‘We’ve got another straight-A student,’” Hensley said. “From then on, Chris and I ribbed each other about engineering versus physics. He was always hounding me to come over to engineering.”
Hensley completes his physics degree this term and plans to pursue an M.S. in the subject at VCU. He holds down a job and a 17-credit course load; he also teaches a lab and is active in Triangle, all of which reinforce his admiration for Ducic’s example of work-life balance. “He managed everything extremely well and made it look easy. I think he thought his productivity was ‘normal,’ when in fact he was doing about twice as much as everyone else,” he said.
Triangle’s mission is to help members develop outstanding character while navigating — and bonding through — the rigors of STEM fields. Ducic epitomized those values, according to Wilson and Cullingsworth. As the Triangle brother who consistently had the highest GPA, Ducic was, according to Wilson, “usually the one who led the way to understanding” at the group’s regular study group sessions. Both recall how Ducic often enfolded tutorials into questions or requests for feedback, and emphasized his gift for keeping study sessions fun. “It never felt like studying,” Wilson said. “It felt like hanging out with a buddy. It was like a party, but you got a lot done.”
Now Triangle’s Chris Ducic Scholarship prepares the way for future generations to benefit from an outstanding student’s legacy, something Cullingsworth believes would have pleased Ducic — for the most part. “Chris was really modest. He’d always share the credit, even when he deserved all of it,” he said. “I think he’d get a big kick out of an academic scholarship from Triangle. The only thing he’d object to is putting his name on it.”