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Development University of Illinois Springfield

Polly and Lou Myers

Lou and Polly Myers
Above: Lou and Polly Myers at their home in Petersburg, illinois. Active philanthropists, the couple has created a scholarship at UIS.

Much-Needed Help From a UIS/SSU Alumna

Paula (Polly) Myers and her husband Lou have created an Access Illinois Scholarship at the University of Illinois Springfield. They want to help deserving students complete their college degrees.

It took Polly nineteen years to finish her undergraduate degree.

She decided to take her first college class when her oldest daughter was twelve. She had married at a young age, and had four children, and to help provide for her family, she waited tables, dumped corn for a seed company, and cleaned houses. She soon realized she needed to improve her earning ability, and she enrolled at Illinois State University in Normal.

So Many Changes in Polly’s Life

Whe she graduated from UIS nineteen years later with a degree in Child, Family and Community, a lot had happened in her life:

  • Her first husband left her, leaving four children in her care.
  • She married again, this time to a widower with three children of his own.
  • Her second husband died 9-1/2 years later, leaving her with seven children in the family (though most had grown up by then).
  • Against all her expectations, she married a third time in 1980, this time to Brigadier General (ILARNG) Louis Myers, Jr. (Ret).

Instantly a Father of Seven

Having never been married and without children of his own, Lou instantly became a father of seven.

With his career success in the National Guard, he made it possible for Polly to forego a paying job and fill her life with volunteer service to the community, including almost daily research into family genealogies for prospective members of Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and other lineage organizations

“This is a lovely man,” she says of Lou. “I’m so blessed to have him.”

Giving Both Time and Money to Many Causes

The couple give generously both in time and money. Much of their philanthropy and outreach involves education, especially their work with young people.  Over their 32 years of marriage, Lou and Polly have helped dozens of men and women.

A few examples:

  • They regularly drove one young woman to Lincoln Land to take GED classes.
  • They helped another young woman with two children through her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) courses; having earned all A’s the young woman has only to take her certification test.
  • A few years ago, they served as house parents for six months at the Tamassee DAR School in South Carolina, and still keep in touch with many of the boys.

Why Scholarships?

Most of the organizations Lou and Polly belong to have scholarships associated with them, and now they have decided to give a scholarship to UIS.

As a student going to UIS, Polly remembers receiving a $368 scholarship. She says that extra money “really helped me get where I was going.”

Through their Access Illinois scholarship, they hope to pay that help forward, providing the same help to a deserving student at UIS.

The Access Illinois Scholarship Initiative

Launched by the University of Illinois in 2012, the three-year Access Illinois Scholarship Initiative offers a 1:1 match for qualified scholarship gifts, doubling the impact of contributions. 

Polly and Lou saw the Access Illinois Initiative as a very special opportunity to help students achieve, and we hope you will as well. 

You can find details on the match, information on how to create a scholarship, and more stories of donors and their grateful recipients, at our Access Illinois website.  You can also call the Office of Development using the contact information below.


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