Together, we set fire to the future

Photo by Sara Titera

Until recently, they only knew each other on paper. A face-to-face meeting connected UND junior Shahmeer Kanwar, ’21, to his scholarship donor, Terry Severson, ’65. Both call Western North Dakota their home and chose to pursue electrical engineering at UND.
In 2017, Severson and his late wife, Diane, established an endowment at UND. Their investment is supporting scholarships for students like Kanwar.
“I’m a big believer in the small things,” said Kanwar, who is also a Grand Challenge Scholarship recipient. “If I didn’t have these scholarships, I’d have to worry about having money for the next week for groceries or next month for rent.”
The electrical engineering/pre-med major hopes to become a surgeon or create medical devices to improve patient health.
A former UND football player and retired Air Force colonel, Severson spent the last 14 years helping build Trace Systems Inc., a telecommunications business that supports the U.S. Department of Defense that employs more than 300 people around the world. Severson is also a founding member of the CEM Executive Board, which he has chaired since 2014. This fall, Severson will be recognized for his achievements, service, and loyalty as a 2020 Sioux Award recipient, the highest honor given by the UND Alumni Association & Foundation.
“I’m at a point in life where I can offer some help to people who are starting out and dreaming of things that I can’t even comprehend,” said Severson, who has helped create several scholarships for engineering students.
He referred to these scholarships as “passing of the torch” in hopes that, one day, students like Kanwar will pay it forward.
— by Jenn Lukens

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