Alumnus Provides Global Education Experience

Alumnus Provides Global Education Experience

Fred Burke

Driven by a profound passion for travel and cultural exchange, esteemed MSU alumnus Fred Burke and his wife, Sara Jean, are transforming the educational experiences for Bagley College of Engineering students through their visionary support of study abroad programs. 

“Traveling and living abroad was a transformative experience for us,” Fred Burke shared. “It opened our eyes to different cultures and ways of thinking, which is invaluable for engineers who will face global challenges in their careers.” 

This passion for international experiences led the Burkes to establish the Fred and Sara Jean Burke Study Abroad Program Annual Fund. Their goal is to provide MSU engineering students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in diverse cultures, fostering personal growth and preparing them to tackle global challenges. 

Fred Burke recounted a powerful anecdote from his days as a consultant at McKinsey & Company, where he led a Pan-European Strategic Review. “Working with colleagues from different countries and observing their approaches was an amazing experience. The differences in our perspectives made us successful as we reached the right answers together,” he said. 

Burke believes that engineering students need this exact experience. Being analytical and quantitative-minded are strengths among engineers, but these traits can also make it harder for them to embrace different approaches. This can be especially challenging for students who will manage others throughout their careers. 

“Study abroad experiences help to heighten people skills and sensitivity. It's interesting to live in a different environment where people speak a different language and every little thing is different, right down to going to the grocery store. It's fun and mind-expanding to operate your daily life in an environment like that, and I think it pays off in long-term benefits,” Burke shared. 

Nearly thirty years ago, the Burkes helped establish the Bagley College of Engineering’s initial study abroad program. Despite facing challenges, their dedication to providing international experiences never wavered. “I was quite taken with this new opportunity, and that’s why we provided funding on the spot to get it started,” Burke explained. 

Jason M. Keith, Dean of the Bagley College of Engineering, emphasized the importance of the Burkes’ support. “Support from alumni like Fred and Sara Jean Burke allows us to offer scholarships to students pursuing the Global Education Engineering Exchange (GE3) and the Shackouls Oxford Program. Studying abroad is a life-changing experience, and we want to remove financial barriers that may prohibit students from participating in these enriching activities,” Keith said. 

Generations of engineering students will benefit from the Burkes’ generosity, experiencing the transformative impact of global education. Their visionary support helps shape future leaders who will navigate and contribute to a complex, globalized world.