Scholarship Stories from the University of Illinois Springfield

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

Category: Alumni Stories

Stories about alumni who received scholarships in the past.

5 opportunities that led to success for Janell Mathus

Janell Mathus

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. Continue reading

How Caitlin Crane found a career that satisfied her curiosity

Caitlin Crane

Above: Caitlin Crane (’13 CBM, MS ’15 LIS Urbana) at work in Archives and Rare Books at the Bernard Becker Medical Library.

Sometimes a mother just knows…

Sitting in a car one day with her mother, just before her first year at UIS, Caitlin Crane wondered aloud about a career.

“You should be a librarian,” her mother said.

“Ummm….” Caitlin took a moment to soften her response. “That doesn’t quite sound like me.” Continue reading

How tragedy focused LaNita Cox’s plans for the future

LaNita Cox and her family

LaNita Cox and her family (Photo credit: Hesed Family Photography, Kelsi Strawn)

LaNita Cox has a passion for helping others, a passion born not from joyful exploration or a compelling hobby, but born of grief and sustained by additional tragedy.

But first came raising a family and running her own business, and then a decision to enroll at UIS. Continue reading

Why Ted Mims is so important to Bill Hoffman’s success

Bill and Ruth Hoffman

Ruth and Bill Hoffman

Only $50.

The year was 1982. Bill Hoffman and his wife, Ruth, had just finished doing their books for the previous year. A drought had cut crop yields as much as 50% on their grain farm, leading to a final income for the year of only $50.

“I think it’s time for me to get a job,” Bill told his wife.

The job Bill took as an electronic technician eventually led to an upper-level management position with Microsoft Corporation. At one point, Bill would be managing over a hundred people in a four-state district.

“I never could have imagined I would end up in management,” Bill says now. Continue reading

How one UIS couple is bringing hope and a future to Myanmar

Matt and Heather WallaceFirst Matt Wallace told Heather Trammel he was serious about a future with her.

And then he really surprised her….

They were on a bus in Russia. Matt was doing an internship between his junior and senior years at UIS, and Heather, who had recently graduated, had come with other UIS students on a trip sponsored by the Christian Student Fellowship, a student organization at UIS.

Matt took a seat next to Heather and got right to the point: “We need to talk about US happening,” he said, ” and I don’t mean US as a fleeting thing.”

Heather wasn’t completely surprised. She and Matt had worked together at UIS the previous year as friends only, but she was aware that something had changed between them here in Russia.

Before she could respond, however, Matt hit her with this:

“And just so you know—I’m going to live in Myanmar after I graduate.” Continue reading

Family emergency fails to derail Dan Garcia

Dan GarciaOver the years, Dan Garcia has been a huge help to us here in the Office of Advancement. He spoke at one of our big donor appreciation events, willingly appeared on a scholarship video and posed for the above photograph which appeared at many gatherings.

One day stands out in his memory—and no wonder. For Dan it was one of those “wrenching-news-hits-you-like-a-ton-of-bricks” days.

I asked him to start his story there.  Continue reading

Late start both a challenge and blessing for Kim Koratsky

Kim Kortasky Work by day. School by night.

As so many other students have done at UIS—especially during the years when the University was known as Sangamon State University—this is how Kim Koratsky earned his degree.

As a student, Kim received the Mary and Nelson Howarth Memorial Scholarship, and while he didn’t know it back then, his life and his career would add to the honor Mary and Nelson receive through the scholarship. Continue reading

Success…six years in the making for Simon Wilson

Simon Wilson in aisle at commencement

For six years, Simon Wilson fought hard for his dreams, and at Commencement in 2012, he claimed his victory: an undergraduate degree from UIS.

Simon now has a job teaching fifth grade at Butler Elementary, and this past summer, he began a master’s degree in Educational Leadership at UIS.

Not bad for a man who declared in high school:

“I will NEVER go to college. My family is too poor. And even if I did go to college, I would never graduate.” Continue reading