In honor of family
Even in his college decision, Brent Ahrens ’85 can point to the influence his parents have had in his life.
“As a kid from Ohio, I looked more or less locally,” he said of his college search. His parents joined him on his tour of UD, and they all felt it — “the vibe” of a place where Ahrens could be welcomed, learn and grow.
“My parents said, ‘You can decide,’ but they certainly in their minds were like, ‘I hope he goes to UD. I hope he goes to UD.’”
He chose UD, and three years later sister Jo Ahrens Kopchak ’88 followed him to campus.
His parents — dad owned an auto repair shop and mom was a nurse — supported each of their six children in endeavors to have a fulfilling life, always emphasizing the importance of education.
Now in their 80s — and only recently acquiescing to their children’s request that they no longer shovel their driveway in northern Ohio — his parents are having an impact on a new generation of UD students through a scholarship Ahrens established in their honor: the Martha and Merle Ahrens Family Scholarship Fund.
This academic year, nine students from majors including photography and premedicine are receiving funds from the Ahrens Family Scholarship.
Ahrens, who graduated from UD with a bachelor’s in 1985 and a master’s in 1986, both in mechanical engineering, said it is important to support students from any major who otherwise would not be able to attend UD. His gifts include current-use funds and endowment funds, so the scholarship can have the biggest impact on today’s students while also supporting Flyers in perpetuity.
He looks at it as a good investment, a viewpoint from which he’s had great success. He’s a general partner with Canaan Partners, a venture capital firm that invests in early-stage startup companies.
“I often joke, it’s three people and a dog in a garage in Palo Alto with some interesting idea that may or may not work,” he said. Among the good ideas in which his company has invested are Dexcom, a continuous glucose monitoring system, and LendingClub, a peer-to-peer personal loan company.
He’s also a volunteer member of the University’s board of trustees and its investment committee, which among other things recommends the amount from endowments to be used toward scholarships each year.