Gifts in Action: Jon Talarico Benefits from Kent Redfield Scholarship

72 Jon Talarico for web storyAbove: Jon Talarico, UIS senior majoring in Political Science.

At UIS to Fulfill a Boyhood Decision

Jon Talarico, currently a senior at UIS, decided as a boy that he wanted to attend college…even though no one in his family had ever done so before.

His proud parents encouraged Jon, and for his first two years, he attended Prairie State, his local community college, and paid all his college expenses himself.

Politics and government affect almost every aspect of our lives, according to Jon, day in and day out, so Jon chose political science as his major. He says, “I’ve always wanted to understand it and become a part of it and somehow find a way to help people.”

Then the ax fell.  Just as he was finishing up at the community college, first his father and then a month later his mother lost their jobs.

I gave up on school,” Jon says.  It just didn’t feel right to Jon to continue, not when staying home and working fulltime would allow him to help his family out.

So Jon stuck his dreams up on a top shelf and resigned himself to bagging groceries.

UIS, the “Perfect Place”

One year later, his father newly employed, Jon brushed off his ambitions and decided to finish his degree.  With no idea where to apply, Jon paid a visit to Prairie State Professor Andy Schott, who had become his mentor and advocate.

A graduate of UIS, Professor Schott directed Jon toward UIS.  Jon says, “I really didn’t know much about the school, but he said that since I was a political science major, UIS would be the perfect place for me.”

Professor Schott was right. According to Jon, “My life has completely changed for the better during my time at UIS. One week I was bagging groceries, and the next I was down here working with some of the state’s highest decision makers at the Capitol. My entire time at UIS has been one huge dream coming true.”

The Kent Redfield Scholarship: Honoring a Man with an “Incredible Impact”

Part of that “dream come true” has been receiving the Kent Redfield Scholarship.

Jon considers this award a great honor, not just for financial reasons, but also because of the “incredible impact” Kent Redfield has had on UIS and on political science. Being selected to represent Kent Redfield on behalf of the scholarship is something he takes great pride in—while at the same time being greatly humbled.

Already the first in his family to attend college, Jon plans to become the first to graduate as well.  He says that because of UIS and the donors who made the Kent Redfield Scholarship possible, he has discovered “a whole new world of opportunity” he never knew existed.