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Advancement University of Illinois Springfield

Michael Schwartz’ Scholarship Luncheon Speech

Michael Schwartz


Thank you for extending the invitation to speak to you today and share a few thoughts about why Barb and I have chosen to support the UIS scholarship program for the past 5 years.

You see, it is our choice. There are many worthwhile organizations and causes we could support, and do support; our synagogue, the arts and social services.

But why did we feel it was also important to provide an opportunity for individuals to attend the University of Illinois at Springfield?


Because we personally know the importance of scholarships, the opportunities they provide and the impact and importance of education.
Because we feel strongly that individuals who wish to attend college should have that opportunity.

As a transfer student from Lincoln Land Community College, Barb was the first recruit for the newly formed women’s tennis team at Sangamon State University and received an athletic scholarship as well as a graduate assistant position in the Gerontology Department.

She received her Bachelor’s in Child, Family and Community Services and spent the majority of her professional career in social services.

I received a 4 year athletic scholarship to Illinois State University as well as an academic scholarship my junior and senior year. I received a Bachelor’s in Education from ISU and my Masters in Educational Administration from UIS.


These scholarships provided us with the opportunity to attend college, obtain our degrees, realize our potential and grow professionally. Without our scholarships, we would not have had that opportunity.

You see, both our fathers suffered debilitating strokes when we were in middle school, rendering them unable to work and jeopardizing our hopes of attending college.


The scholarships Barb and I received and the education those scholarships provided changed our lives.

After receiving my Bachelor’s, I taught elementary school for ten years. I was able to pursue and receive my Master’s at UIS while teaching and coaching.
The friendships Barb and I developed while attending UIS have lasted over thirty years and enriched our lives both personally and professionally.

Our professors took an interest in us, encouraged us to develop our skills and guided us thoughtfully in pursuit of our goals.

Since Barb and I were born and raised in Springfield, we continually come in contact with people who have benefited from UIS in so many ways.


Originally the university catered to local “non-traditional” students, many worked, were not full-time students, some had been out of school for a few years, and many had families. There is no way that these individuals would have been able to further their careers or get their degrees without the local university.

We have watched the university evolve into a remarkable educational facility that provides opportunities for students from many geographical areas and diverse backgrounds.


Unfortunately all you have to do today is read the newspaper or watch the news to discover that education is struggling financially at all levels, including higher education.

Thanks to your generosity, many students are achieving their dreams at this dynamic educational institution. It is vital that the public also understands the adage “pay it forward.” In other words, Barb and I understand that we are now in a position to help individuals achieve their dreams because someone was once there for us.


We need to encourage our family, friends and co-workers to realize how important the University of Illinois at Springfield is to our community and how vital financial assistance is to each and every individual.

Philanthropy is defined as the “caring of man in the sense of caring for, nourishing, improving and enhancing the quality of life for human beings.” The young men and women here today have benefited from the generosity of people who care.


Barb and I are forever grateful for the opportunities afforded us and are committed to providing educational opportunities for students and supporting the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Please consider your own scholarship at UIS. Learn more about a special 1:1 match opportunity through the Access Illinois Scholarship Initiative.

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