During his second year at UIS, student Dan Garcia faced a terrible crisis: his father lost his job as chef manager at a cafeteria outside Chicago. “My greatest challenge at college has always been financial,” he says. “We were able to pay for college by balancing loans, grants, and scholarships, but when my father lost his job, my parents lost their ability to qualify for educational loans.”
Dan’s father came to the U.S. from Mexico in 1980. It took several years to gain his citizenship. Neither his father or mother has a college degree. Throughout his life, Dan’s parents have sacrificed to offer him the best educational opportunities available. A college degree for Dan has always been their goal.
“When my father lost his job, what was already a tense situation—paying for college—became even more difficult,” Dan says. “I thought hard about taking a semester off to work so I could save up money and help out my parents.”
That would have been a shame, even though Dan definitely planned to come back. Dan is a leader on campus, especially through his work with the Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center. He often gives campus tours to prospective students during which he readily shares how much UIS has meant to his personal and academic development.
Quite simply, he’s one of those students who elevates the college experience for everyone he meets. Having him go would have been a terrible loss.
Fortunately, with help from the privately funded Ringeisen Scholarship, Dan was able to meet his tuition payments and never had to leave school. His father is now employed again, this time as a sous chef, and Dan’s financial concerns are back to the status quo—which is to say, still tense but manageable. As he goes into the coming year, he’s eager for classes (“I’ve discovered I really love learning”) and making plans for the future.
Students like Dan need heroes in their lives, heroes who stand in the gap for them, help them face down financial crises, and forge ahead to their dreams.
Are you that hero? Do you see yourself helping students like Dan, students who passionately commit themselves to their college education?
Please consider creating a scholarship.