Just about everyone in college is always on the lookout to score a few extra bucks for gas — even the professors.
To that end, a St. Mary’s College of Maryland professor recently won $27,500 and a free vacation from his favorite gas station.
“This was not something I was expecting in any way, shape or form,” Alan Jamieson, a computer science teacher at the college, said. “It was really quite a shock.”
The gas and convenience store Sheetz started its Time Back initiative to connect and give back to its customers — they surprised people at their homes with prizes like free cars and vacations. Jamieson received a school donation of $25,000, an additional $2,500 to feed his students and a free trip to London.
“As we jumped into our Time Back campaign, we wanted to use social media to identify fans who we could make real connections with, and Alan did that for us,” Ryan Sheetz, the assistant vice president of the company, said. “He is a great fan, and through our shared values of giving back, we thought we could connect with him in a meaningful way to truly make an impact.”
Ryan Sheetz said the company did research on its fans and discovered what they are passionate about.
Jamieson not only goes to Sheetz at least once a week, he also interacts with them on Twitter. But it wasn’t just his loyalty to the gas station that was noticed by the company, it was his loyalty to his students.
“Alan has shown a passion for, not only teaching his students, but also advocating for women in technology,” Ryan Sheetz said. “We share his passion for education and development.”
Jamieson said part of his job is to research underrepresented students in computer science and make sure they stay in the program. That advocacy also defines who he is as a professor.
“To a certain extent, it’s just because I don’t know any different,” the professor said. “I was blessed with mentors in undergrad who went the extra mile for me as a student. Being involved in my students’ lives is naturally something I do.”
Jamieson said he isn’t sure what the $25,000 of school donations will fund specifically, but he hopes it will pay for student travel, which would cost about $1,000 per student, to send them to national computer science conferences that focus on diversity in the field.
“This kind of donation would be very, very useful for us,” he said. “Especially a student that may be a first generation [from a family to attend college] or come from a less than privileged background.”
Jamieson was also awarded $2,500 to spend on food for his students.
“Every once in a while, especially if I’m on campus late, I’ll offer to go get them food,” he said. “Usually, that may be somewhere that’s very local to the campus, but a lot of times there’s a Sheetz that’s just up the road.”
He said he hasn’t bought food for his students recently since one of his students has a severe food allergy, but he’s looking to do it again soon.
Through research, the gas station company discovered that Jamieson and his wife, Lindsay, who is also a computer science professor at St. Mary’s College, have future plans to build a sustainable tea farm in Southern Maryland. But before they get started, Alan Jamieson said they want to first learn everything they can about the endeavor.
As a third gift, Sheetz gifted the couple with a trip to London to take a master class in tea making with the option to cash out and use the money for tea farming research.
Alan Jamieson said all the gifts are unbelievable and knows the school donations will help many students over the years. “I’m extremely grateful for Sheetz to give me and my program this opportunity,” he said.