Scholarship Stories from the University of Illinois Springfield

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

Category: Student Stories (page 1 of 2)

Stories featuring the students who receive scholarships.

How Melanie Clark’s grandmother fulfilled a promise to Melanie’s father

Melanie Clark

Give her the same advantages you gave me…

Before Melanie Clark’s father died, this was the request he communicated to his mother, Julie Clark (at right Melanie with her grandmotherwith Melanie).

Melanie was only five at the time. In the coming years, her grandmother filled Melanie’s life with experiences that expanded Melanie’s world and gave her a much broader understanding of life—a cruise when Melanie was nine, the chance to take part in the People to People Ambassadorial Program in Australia during high school, other opportunities for learning and experience.

“She is always trying to push me to keep growing as an individual,” Melanie says, “to keep pushing myself forward and go after what I want to do.”

Musical tickets lead to Melanie’s future

Possibly most important to Melanie’s future, Julie Clark introduced Melanie to UIS by bringing her to performances at the Sangamon Auditorium on the UIS campus. Continue reading

A “miracle” baby motivates a new career for Eric Needham

Eric NeedhamEric Needham loves the outdoors. Walking through a forest, he can tell you the names of trees and identify the genus of a bark beetle.

So you would think a career in forestry would be perfect for him, and in fact Eric earned his undergraduate degree in Forestry. Soon after graduating, he took a job at the USDA Forest Service at the Forest Science Laboratory in Corvallis, Oregon.

However… Continue reading

A road less traveled rewards Beverly Shannon with a remarkable life

Beverly ShannonWhen Beverly Shannon graduated from high school, she could have chosen a simple, straightforward future: a degree from UCLA followed by a safe and satisfying career.

Instead, Beverly chose dancing, and as Robert Frost said in a famous poem about two roads diverging in a wood—choosing that less-traveled path made all the difference. Continue reading

A Navy buddy’s lessons inspire a new career for Mike Baracani

Submarine--USS William H. BatesWhen Mike Baracani of Oglesby, Illinois, began classes at UIS, he probably didn’t realize quite how much of a challenge it would be for him to juggle a fulltime job, commute two hours a day, be a good dad to his kids and husband to his wife, all while taking online business classes at UIS.

But he’s managed to do it all, and he’s done so with a great cause—to help people get where they want to be financially. 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

Santiago Pedraza capitalizes on stellar opportunities at UIS

Santiago Pedraza

One day, while Santiago Pedraza was attending high school in his native Spain, his father said, “Hey, have you thought about doing a year in the United States?

Santi’s father had earned his master’s degree at the University of Dallas back in 1994. He had loved his time in the States, and he wanted to share the experience with his son.

So after his  sophomore year in high school,  Santiago Pedraza came to the States to attend school.

But instead of one year, he has stayed for five years—his college years at UIS–and he plans to stay even longer. Continue reading

One insatiable desire connects Sean Flamand’s goals


Study-abroad students

UIS student Sean Flamand (on the right in the picture above, second from top) is insatiably curious about life in other countries. Last summer, he traveled to Japan with a UIS group to study at the Ashikaga Institute of Technology.

This spring, thanks in part to the James L. Lundquist Memorial Scholarship, Sean will be able to study at the University of Valencia in Spain–this time on his own and for the whole semester.

Deeply grateful, Sean wrote the following letter to the Lundquist family. We reproduce it here with his permission (we added the headings). Continue reading

How would you respond to the news Dana McCarver received?

Dana McCarverDana McCarver ended her sophomore year exhausted.

A full load of classes and a fulltime job wore her out, and when she went home to Arkansas in the summer she looked drained.

Her sister, a nurse, took one look and said, “Dana, this isn’t normal. You need to get blood work done today.”

Preliminary results showed that Dana needed a blood transfusion. Good, she thought. A quick transfusion, and I’ll feel better.

But the next day, a kidney doctor called. Continue reading

One of the most beloved events of the year…

2015 Scholarship Luncheon

Monroe Brown sitting with Gloria Calovini and Jack Dolan (facing Monroe)

If you were to walk through the Sangamon Auditorium Lobby this past fall on Wednesday, October 28, you may have had to hold your breath to fit between the crowded tables.

That was the day of our annual Scholarship Luncheon:

  • 270+ people
  • 124 students (give or take)
  • 150 donors and special guests
  • 18 tables
  • and lots and lots of introductions, smiles, conversations, laughter, stories, and “thank you’s.”

At the Scholarship Luncheon, donors have a chance to meet the students who have received their scholarships.

Around the Office of Advancement, we call it “our most beloved event” because it is so gratifying for us to watch donors meet, face-to-face, the person who is benefitting from their gift and to see the gratitude in students’ eyes. Continue reading

Her high school lab leads Taylor Cooperider to a valuable career

Jessica Sheffield and Taylor Cooperider

Taylor Cooperider (right) with Jessica Sheffield in Microbiology Lab at UIS

A high school student walked into a lab….

Sounds like the beginning of a joke, but discovering your calling in life—the one career you know will make you happy—is no joke, and that’s what happened the day Taylor Cooperider walked into her high school Biology II lab.

Taylor had worried a little about this particular lab. The task that day was dissecting a cat, and Taylor loves cats. It didn’t sound like much fun.

But once Taylor had a chance to look at the cat’s anatomy and see how the heart and liver and everything else inside the cat worked together, she became enthralled.

In fact, it was during that lab that Taylor discovered laboratory science would become her career. Continue reading

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