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Scholarship Story

SME Education Foundation Scholarship Helps Provide Student With Debt-Free Start to Career

caitlyn-ulinski_desk.jpgCaitlyn Ulinski, a cybersecurity engineer at General Motors’ Lansing Delta Township Assembly plant, says her SME Education Foundation scholarship was instrumental in helping her get through college and start her career.

A native of Romeo, Michigan, in the metro Detroit area, Ulinski received the Foundation’s E. Wayne Kay Scholarship in 2017, while she was studying electrical engineering at Kettering University in Flint.

caitlyn-ulinski.jpg“When I started at Kettering, GM offered me a job for my co-op terms, and they wanted to place me in Lansing in a manufacturing facility,” says Ulinski. “That was nothing I had even thought about, that I would ever work in manufacturing, but I ended up really loving it, and I still work in the same plant I started in.”

From 2014 to 2018, when she graduated from Kettering magna cum laude, Ulinski worked at GM as a co-op student in controls, an area of electrical engineering. In 2019, she moved to Potterville, near Lansing, and took a full-time job with GM in the controls field. She then moved into GM’s global purchasing and supply chain area for two years, and, in 2022, became a cybersecurity engineer.

Ulinski credits an Intro to Engineering class she took at her high school, Oxford High in Michigan, with awakening her interest in engineering. “I had never considered engineering before, but that class was super-inspiring,” she says.

Torn between attending the University of Michigan and Kettering University, Ulinski ultimately chose Kettering because of its co-op program. “You end up graduating with two or two-and-a-half years of full-time experience, so it really sets you up well for moving into the workforce,” she says.


Another thing that played a big role in Ulinski’s budding career was her SME Education Foundation scholarship. “It was huge,” she says. “Working at my co-op job when I was in high school and then receiving scholarships like the SME scholarship allowed me to graduate with no debt.” It also helped her do a study-abroad term in Europe, during which she saw 13 different countries and had what she calls “probably the most amazing experience I’ll ever have in my life.”

Ulinski had another great experience when she served as a scholarship application reviewer for the SME Education Foundation last year. “That’s what people did for me, so I wanted to be able to pay it forward,” she says. “It was such a rewarding and inspiring experience, to see the applications of the next generation of young manufacturing professionals.”

These days, Ulinski is finishing up her MBA degree — she has one class to go at Central Michigan University — while working full-time at GM.

As for the future, she says, “Short-term, I’m really happy where I’m at. Long term’s a little more vague. I keep myself open, so when opportunities present themselves I’m usually ready to take the risk and try something new.”