Scholarship Stories from the University of Illinois Springfield

Stories of students at UIS and the generous scholarship donors who support their dreams

Month: September 2015

A Triumph over Tragedy in Three Acts for Andrew Dewey

Andrew Dewey for blog

Andrew Dewey’s story has three acts, and each plays an important role in his journey from tragedy to triumph.

Act 1: Hurricane Katrina–twelve hours that changed Andrew’s life

On August 15, 2005, Andrew moved his wife and their four children to LaPlace, Louisiana, a few miles west of New Orleans. A promotion to regional supervisor of franchises for a national company allowed Andrew to purchase a large house close to Lake Pontchartrain.

Ten days later, Katrina struck, and Andrew’s life took a sharp turn toward trouble.

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Careful planning propels Josh Lawson to promising future

Josh Lawson for blog

Josh Lawson is a man who plans ahead.

Growing up in a family with eight brothers and sisters, he decided fairly early that his only hope of going to college was joining the military, which would provide educational assistance for tuition and some fees.

So 5-1/2 years ago, he joined the Illinois Army National Guard.

He decided at the time to have his work in the Guard count for more than just educational assistance. He would use the time to develop skills for his career as well.

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How an Unexpected Choice Paid Off Big for Colin Blaydes

Blaydes Shooting for blog

Colin Blaydes was running out of time.

Colin, a basketball player, had recently finished  two years at a community college.

It was time to decide where he would go to finish his degree and complete his last two years of eligibility.

Colleges in Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri and even as far away as North Carolina had offered him scholarships, with the best offer coming from a university in Iowa—close to a full ride for his last two years of college.

The Iowa coach wanted an answer.

“We have this nice deal for you,” Colin remembers the coach saying. “If you’re not coming, I need to know so that I can give it to someone else.”

Just one problem.

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The big question of WHY?

Acceptance Letters cropped wider
You might think the 4-inch stack of papers would be intimidating.

That stack on my desk includes more than 160 stapled acceptance packets that scholarship recipients must submit in order to receive their scholarships. Each includes:

  • a cover sheet
  • a questionnaire
  • a letter, often with more than one page.

And every year, I  read each of these acceptance packets, sometimes more than once.

A Gold Mine

But I love reading the packets because this seemingly daunting stack of papers always offers a rich gold mine of valuable stories.

“Sharing those stories” answers the important question of why I’m writing this blog. I’m hoping that anyone who loves a great story will check back in to read about the students at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS)–especially the donors who create the scholarships.

I want to give them a huge thank you and an additional source of satisfaction and fulfillment from their giving.

A Special Right-Sized Community

UIS attracts students who want college to give them close-knit relationships not only with other students but also with the gifted professors who teach here. UIS takes pride in being a warm, welcoming campus where faculty and staff support what students are working so hard to achieve. Here, we know students’ names.

The students who receive scholarships soon realize that support at UIS extends beyond the campus to the community and to our alumni. Each year, students receive more than $400,000 in privately funded scholarship support, created by donors who find pleasure in seeing UIS students achieve their dreams.

Scholarship Stories will give students a chance to meet some of these wonderful donors.

Scholarship Stories will also give donors an opportunity to learn more about the students who receive their support. Because I’ll be telling stories about alumni, donors will enjoy seeing where their gifts have taken students.

The Proof in the Telling

I’m eager to provide proof that scholarship giving extends far beyond the student to benefit the communities, business, non-profits and families touched by scholarship recipients. So many inspiring stories!

I hope you find value in what you read here. I welcome your suggestions and comments.