Montana State University

Ahead of his times: Recent MSU graduate sponsors scholarship

June 9, 2007 -- Anne Pettinger, MSU News Service

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A recent Montana State University graduate has given back to his alma mater by sponsoring an annual scholarship.

Daniel Czech, who graduated in 2006 with a major in business management and a minor in political science, awarded a $100 scholarship this spring to Zach Stordahl, a sophomore electrical engineering major from Moorhead, Minn. It was the second year Czech awarded the scholarship.

While scholarships helped Czech himself pay for college, his first-hand knowledge of how they benefit students financially wasn't the only reason he decided to sponsor one.

"MSU gave me so much, so many opportunities," Czech said. "Being able to reward even one person is a big part of staying connected to the community."

To be eligible for the Daniel E. Czech Excellence in Leadership Award, students must work at the MSU Leadership Institute, have active leadership roles and demonstrate proficiency in up to 16 leadership traits such as courage, judgment and integrity.

Czech chose those requirements because as a student at MSU, he was an ASMSU liaison to the Leadership Institute, and he admired the group.

"So many groups on campus do a lot of good stuff, but the people who work at the Leadership Institute are some of the most talented individuals on campus," he said. "They work really hard at what they do."

The group's ability to bring in high-profile speakers like Salman Rushdie, who visited MSU several years ago, is especially impressive, Czech said.

Czech said he selected Stordahl as the scholarship recipient out of several applicants because his attitudes and philosophies about leadership stood out.

"Zach wrote that being a good leader required good communication. Once good communication is established, a leader can exercise good judgment and make good decisions," Czech recalled. "However, Zach also spoke about the unpleasant parts of leadership, for example, when the leader screws up. He said integrity, courage and humility are very necessary when leading in a crisis.

"(Stordahl) recognizes that being a leader is not something you do only during the good times. Being a leader means that you must accept responsibility and do what you can, even when you are in a crisis."

Czech, who lives in Reno, Nev. and is pursuing a second degree in secondary education and physics, hopes to continue awarding the scholarship annually.

"I'd like to continue to give back to the institution that did a lot for me," Czech said.

Daniel Czech, (406) 579-9399 or czech_online@homtail.com