Look at Janell Mathus (above), and you are looking at success.
When she graduated from UIS this year, May 2016, with a degree in Biology, she had been accepted by four medical schools.
Janell came to UIS as a freshman. She had excellent academic skills, and with such supportive professors, those skills became even better at UIS.
But the advantages Janell experienced outside the classroom at UIS also played an important role in making Janell so attractive to medical schools.
Advantage #1: A supportive family
When Janell stepped onto campus, she knew that every day she would have the encouragement and guidance of her family. Her parents did not graduate from a four-year college, but that didn’t stop them from helping Janell in any way they could.
Her mother, for example, pored over the requirements for Janell’s first major, Clinical Laboratory Science, and helped Janell plan every academic semester.
“My mom loves to research things,” Janell explains, “and she found a list of classes that I needed to take for CLS. She helped me stay on the ball so I could graduate within four years.”
Janell’s sister, who had already been attending DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, gave Janell lots of tips on note taking, getting help from professors and managing her time.
Advantage #2: Necessary Steps
From Day One, Janell experienced another advantage at UIS by immediately becoming part of the Necessary Steps (NS) Living Learning Community program. This meant she lived with other NS members in a residence hall wing and took classes designed to help the students adjust to college life.
“When I came, I automatically had a community,” Janell says. “There were people I could talk to, resources that I had available to help me out.”
Necessary Steps also provided her with an upper-class mentor to answer Janell’s questions and encourage her. Janell came to value Necessary Steps so much that in her junior year, she became a mentor herself.
Advantage #3: Generous UIS donors
Almost all first-generation students face financial challenges when attending college, and Janell was no different. With her parents’ assistance, Janell applied for financial aid and received state and federal grants, and she was able to find work during the school year and in summers.
She also applied for privately funded scholarships through UIS (the scholarships our generous donors establish on behalf of students), and over the course of her undergraduate years, she received four:
- The Health Professions Scholarship, established by a grant from the Central Illinois Consortium for Health Manpower Education for students going into health-related fields.
- The Central Illinois Community Blood Center Scholarship, designed to encourage qualified clinical laboratory science students to pursue careers as blood banking and transfusion medicine technologists.
- The Sangamon State University Alumni Association Scholarship, one of the oldest scholarships on campus and funded by the University’s earliest graduates.
- The Thomas Eakman Scholarship, established by the Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Illinois in recognition of Mr. Eakman’s superior 30-year career with the University of Illinois.
“I always felt grateful and honored to receive the scholarships,” she says. “They make life much easier because you don’t have to worry about taking out as many loans. Even the smaller scholarships meant I had that much less to worry about—like paying for science books, which unfortunately are very expensive!”
Thanks to the scholarships, instead of having to work longer hours, Janell was able to take part in the many leadership opportunities UIS offers students—opportunities that helped build her confidence.
Advantage #4: A 4H service opportunity
One of these opportunities occurred during her first year at UIS when Janell joined with other Necessary Steps students to teach a 4H group of middle school kids. Janell, who has always loved science, led the group in extracting DNA, made catapults and ice cream, and did other activities to get them engaged in science.
She admits being nervous. There she was in front of a room full of middle school students. Did she have what it took to keep their attention? Would she be able to inspire in them even a little of her own love for science?
She soon gained confidence. Teaching the 4H group became one of her favorite activities in college and boosted her confidence immensely.
Advantage #5: Two other leadership opportunities
Her next big leadership opportunity was as an orientation leader, which required her to oversee a group of new students over the course of a two-day orientation to campus.
“I’m a little bit of an introvert,” she says, “and that was the first time I was really in charge. As an orientation leader, I had to get the students from Point A to Point B, interact with them and their parents and answer questions.”
She soon discovered that she was able to keep everyone together, answer all their questions and keep everything going smoothly.
Serving as Vice President of the Legacy Dance Team also helped build Janell’s confidence as a leader. As Vice President, Janell helped lead practices and coordinated what dances the group would do. She also had the task of holding everyone accountable for being on time and having their dances ready. Again, this built her confidence as a leader.
Setting a new course for her future
When Janell came to UIS, she planned on becoming a clinical laboratory scientist, a healthcare professional who does the diagnostic analyses that help doctors diagnose and treat diseases. It’s a vitally important health care profession and always in demand.
During her junior year, however, Janell decided she wanted to become a doctor and switched her major to biology. It was the complete package that UIS provided for Janell—great academics and lots of opportunities to grow—that helped make her such a confident and capable UIS graduate, ready for the rigors of medical school.
A UIS success!
At UIS, anyone can make a gift that adds to the size of a scholarship award. We welcome your gift in any amount to the following funds that helped Janell. Use the links to give safely online.