August 19, 2015

Shortly after graduation in May 2011, Ralph R. Sinno, Jr. did something uncharacteristic of most young alumni: He established a scholarship at his alma mater.

The Ralph R. Sinno Civil and Petroleum Engineering Scholarship, started three years after his graduation, benefits engineering students who have the qualities and the potential to solve problems and meet the needs in our modern civilization. 

“My hope is to push the needle for those that need just enough to get across the stage with a diploma," said Sinno, a native of Starkville, Miss. "It is up to the individual to do the rest."

Sinno, Jr. said he hopes his scholarship will give students an additional push to help them graduate. Sometimes a little money can make the day-to-day battles disappear, he explained, and if it gives a person one more opportunity to further their education, then that person has an increased chance to be their own man or woman. 

Any civil or petroleum engineering sophomore, junior or senior who is a U.S. citizen with a need for financial assistance in school is eligible for the award, he said. Sinno, Jr. chose this criteria based on his personal experiences attending LSU and his observations in the professional arena.

Choosing LSU Engineering as a place to earn a degree and start a scholarship was a logical choice for the 27-year-old alumnus, he said. Much of Sinno, Jr.'s family attended the university, so the decision to attend and keep the tradition alive made it much more suitable.

“LSU is easily one of my favorite places in the world to be,” Sinno, Jr. said. "I am always willing to take time to go back to the campus and stoke the flame that only LSU can give."

In his early years, Sinno, Jr. learned that a passion for engineering helped his father transform his degree into a remarkable career. An immigrant from the Middle East, Raouf R. Sinno, Sr. gained success through his work as an endowed university professor, business owner and innovator. Most recently, Sinno, Sr. shared his training by participating as expertise in numerous legal proceedings. This made an impression and inspired Sinno, Jr. to study engineering, he said.

“The respect [Sinno, Sr.] receives as a professional and the relentless drive for innovation and research was the early onset that set the scene for what a person with passion looks like,” said Sinno, Jr. "[That] molded together with his second-to-none work ethic was inspiration enough to get any young person excited to get into engineering.”

For engineering students, Sinno, Jr. recommends outlining what is important to them as an individual and set into action steps on how to achieve it. Students who make goals and prioritize their most important commitments will be overall more satisfied with the results, he said.

“If you want the most out of any situation, step back and comprehend the bigger picture you’re current life stage or problem fits in to," he said. "Understand how it is relevant to that broader mosaic. Then use the biggest tool that engineering courses gives you: The burning desire to figure things out and make it more efficient.”

Sinno, Jr. advises engineering students to take risks. Do not fear failure, he said, and use your education to make calculated, purposeful decisions that are wise and most importantly ambitious. A wasted life is one without the will to drive for what you want out of it, he continued.

“The folks that say, ‘If I only had,' ‘If I could just,' ‘The reason why I don’t,' are the ones that are waiting for the world to happen to them," he said. "One thing I learned very quickly after graduation is that you control your future with how you act and treat others. The things that are outside your control are just that, outside of your control.”

Asked about his favorite memory of LSU, Sinno, Jr. was quick to answer. “That’s easy," he said. "Dr. Brian Wolshon."

"I like to think of him as a mentor. He was just that wonderful of an educator. He made learning funas it should be. He gave me ambition and held me accountable to do better in every way."

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Written by Erica Pater, assistant manager of alumni relations, College of Engineering. For more information, contact Sydni Dunn at 225-578-5706 or at sydnid@lsu.edu. 



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