Among the cheers as members of the Class of 2014 crossed the Commencement platform on June 14, was a standing ovation for Jon Meis, the student building monitor who, nine days earlier, disarmed and helped to subdue the gunman who entered Otto Miller Hall.
“While I have imagined what it would be like to save a life, I never believed I would be put in such a situation,” Meis (above, center) said in a written statement.
In recognition of Meis’ “quick thinking, selfless acts, and brave response,” Seattle Pacific University President Dan Martin announced during the Undergraduate Commencement ceremony that SPU had established the Jon C. Meis Scholarship.
“It is my hope that future generations of Seattle Pacific engineering students who will benefit from this scholarship will be inspired by Jon’s faith, his witness, and his boldness to act when others are in need,” Martin said.
Meis graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering. He worked together with Shawn Doi ’14, Milos Pesic ’14, and Ella Stefoglo ’14 on a senior engineering project that was a design and prototype for an automated pill dispenser. Its purpose is to help users avoid medication errors. “I liked working on a system with integrated hardware and software,” Meis recalls.
He also completed two internships at Boeing, where he has since taken a position as a design and analysis engineer on the Boeing 737, the world’s most popular jet airliner.
Meis chose to participate in graduation events despite being at the center of a swirl of unwanted media attention immediately following June 5. “It was very important to me to graduate with my friends, because we are all part of the same SPU community,” says Meis, who adds he enjoyed “living” in Otto Miller Hall with other engineering and computer science students, a tight-knit group who spend many hours in the lab together.
The scholarship in Meis’ name will go to “an engineering student who reflects the spirit of SPU and lives a life for the benefit of others.”
Don Peter, associate professor of electrical engineering, says this description fits many of his students, who often choose to work on engineering projects that have some kind of social benefit — a solar-powered cell phone charger for missionaries in a remote area, for instance, or a device to prevent malaria-carrying mosquitoes from breeding.
“Although encouraged, it's not required,” Peter says, “but it comes from the students’ own interests. They come in with the desire to do something worthwhile. We tell them that even if their projects are not directly socially relevant, the skills they learn can be applied to that.”
Meis says he hopes the scholarship will help students find their place in the SPU engineering community. And, he adds, “I hope it will also be a reminder that one person can really make a difference when they take action.”
Learn more about the Jon C. Meis Scholarship at spu.edu/give.