In a survey of recent Park Scholarships graduates, nearly 90% of respondents reported having had at least one international experience over the course of their undergraduate years – whether study abroad, research, a professional conference, an internship, service, or an alternative pursuit. Dr. Jere Confrey and Dr. Alan Maloney, parents of Tyler Confrey-Maloney ‘13, are among those who have observed the impact of international experiences on students’ professional and personal growth and broadened perspectives.
With the value of this transformation in mind, Confrey, who is the Joseph D. Moore Distinguished Professor of mathematics education at NC State, and Maloney, extension associate professor of mathematics education and senior research fellow at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, decided to make a significant investment. In conjunction with their son’s graduation in May 2014, they launched an endowment, the Tyler Confrey-Maloney Study Abroad Grant, to provide ongoing funding for Park Scholars’ international experiences.
“Our endowment represents our desire to give back to others for the tremendous experience Tyler had,” said Confrey. “As members of the NC State community, it allows us to help the university continue to attract an outstanding caliber of students.”
As a high school senior, Confrey-Maloney was fortunate to receive acceptance and scholarship offers from several excellent universities. Ultimately, the factors that most heavily influenced his choice to enroll at NC State were the quality of the engineering programs and the abundance of leadership opportunities available through the Park Scholarships program.
“Tyler was always eclectic, pursuing a variety of interests,” said Confrey. “We could see that the Park program would give him a chance to become the well-rounded, multi-talented entrepreneur who has emerged.”
As a result of his diverse experiences as an undergraduate on campus and overseas, Confrey-Maloney “found ways to synthesize a deep understanding of chemistry, physics, and biological science, with new technologies, with societal change,” said Confrey.
As a rising sophomore, Confrey-Maloney traveled to South Africa with ThinkImpact, a nonprofit organization dedicated to experiential education and social innovation. The following year, he and a small group of fellow Park Scholars founded and implemented a two-week service-learning trip to Belize, where they partnered with the Holy Cross Anglican School and the Belize Zoo. In an effort to sustain these partnerships, Confrey-Maloney advised fellow Park Scholars who went on to lead service-learning trips to Belize during subsequent summers.
In 2011, Confrey-Maloney was one of two students to pilot a gap year initiative within the Park Scholarships program by opting to put his scholarship funding on hold during what would have been his junior year. He took advantage of this time to return to South Africa, where he further explored his interests in environmental sustainability, photography, and leadership development. He served as program director for the inaugural TEDxTableMountain, and interned at both the Biomimicry Institute in Cape Town and Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Hoedspruit. Through the professional relationship Confrey-Maloney established with the latter organization, six Park Scholars have since completed rewarding summer internships at Moholoholo.
Inspired by their son’s endeavors abroad and his enthusiasm for pushing his peers to step outside their own comfort zones, Confrey said she and Maloney “felt that since we saved money as Park parents, we would like to contribute an endowment to support other Park Scholars to study abroad as Tyler did. This is our first philanthropic contribution of this kind.”
Confrey-Maloney completed a bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering. During his senior year, he collaborated with three classmates on research that epitomizes his combined passions for the sciences and social issues. Their research has since grown into a start-up fashion company called Undercover Colors, dedicated to empowering women to prevent sexual assault. With support from faculty, NC State’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, a Park Enrichment Grant, and enthusiastic investors, Confrey-Maloney and his Undercover Colors co-founders are now in the process of developing their first product: a nail polish that changes color in the presence of date rape drugs.
“The Park program, the encouragement of its leaders, and the quality of the community gave him the greatest college experience ever,” said Confrey.