Joe and Rikki Sonnen
Young Loyal Donors
As civil engineers, University of Idaho engineering alumni and couple, Joe and Rikki Sonnen ’10 have one goal in mind—help their community.
“Now that Joe and I have recently passed our civil engineering exams, we have more opportunities in our industry to help our community,” Rikki said.
Joe and Rikki met and fell in love during their time at UI. They simultaneously fell in love the UI community, and believe wholeheartedly in giving back to the university that gave them so much opportunity.
“We’re excited to give back because we believe our time at UI was the best five years of our lives,” Rikki said. “We want to do our part to help others experience UI the way we did.”
It’s only been a few years since Joe and Rikki graduated with their master’s degrees from the UI College of Engineering, and they have gone on to have successful careers.
“The UI Civil & Environmental Engineering Department gives you (students) the foundation for a career in engineering,” Joe said. “They do a good job of preparing students to use their degrees to pursue a number of options."
As a first generation student, Joe knows the power of higher education and the freedom and responsibility that comes with it.
“My parents really pushed me to do something after high school,” Joe said. “If I hadn’t gone to college, I would have probably gone to work for my Dad’s contracting business. UI really gave me an opportunity to breakout on my own. Now that I have my master’s degree, it really opens up numerous opportunities for me and my family.”
The Sonnen’s have decided to provide scholarship support, specifically to juniors and seniors preparing for the last leg of the bachelor’s degrees in engineering. They believe that extra encouragement in this area, where there is often very little support, can really make a difference.
“We want to give others opportunities to have a successful college career,” Rikki said. “We specifically want to encourage juniors and seniors who are doing well, but maybe aren’t necessarily on the top of their class, to reach the finish line.”