Reaching Steller: Scholarship Stories
Leanne Churchill | Drew scholarship recipient
As a student at Williamsville High School, Leanna Churchill asked the athletic director if she could take pictures of the school’s sporting events allowed her to network with people in local journalism. Now a communication major at UIS, Leanna works as an intern at Channel1450.com in Springfield. “I hope to one day share the stories that help to inspire others and report on events that will be remembered for a lifetime, especially in sports,” she said. This year, Leanna has been encouraged in her career by receiving the Dara Drew Memorial Scholarship, named in honor of a member of the Saga Communications (Capitol Radio) Group.
2018 Scholarship Luncheon
Katelyn Garner | Reaching the Goal
Computer science major Katelyn Garner lives in Taylorville, where she’s raising her “amazing” 10-year-old son on her own while working in a pharmacy. Fortunately her major is available online so she can fit classes around her busy schedule. She chose computer science because she thinks technology, in combination with medicine, agriculture and the food industry can address the root problems that affect the world’s health. Raising a son on her own can be challenging financially, so she was thrilled—and relieved—to learn that she had received the Grace Brorström Oakley Scholarship for online students. More about Grace Brorström Oakley here. “I want to show my son that if we set a goal we do not stop until we reach that goal, but I was having a hard time figuring out how to take classes this fall,” she said. “Receiving this scholarship lifted a major weight off my shoulders. ‘Thank you’ does not seem like enough!”
The Bill and Frances Cosgrove Water Resource Management Scholarship Fund
William ‘Bill’ Cosgrove, with Frances Cosgrove’s support, spent his career years working on various aspects of water management. The UIS Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon provides a site where many disciplines could contribute to the research of the role of wetlands in water resource management. Bill and Frances hope this scholarship will help make use of the Station. More about the Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon.
Ahja Howard | Scholarship Recipient, Campus Leaders
Donors, your scholarships often help to create campus leaders like Ahja Howard. The recipient of the Sikich LLP Accountancy Scholarship, Ahja is majoring in Accountancy and Business Administration. Last year, she was president of the Student Activities Committee, helped plan UIS Homecoming and Springfest. She is also a member of the Necessary Steps program and volunteered for a 4-H Mentoring Programs. She says, “UIS taught me to put myself out there and challenge myself. I love UIS.” Thank you, Sikich LLP, for the difference your scholarship makes for UIS students like Ahja. More about Ajha.
William Wadas | How far do scholarships go?
All the way to Antarctica, if you are William Wadas. William earned a Poli Sci degree from UIS in 2014, especially appreciating UIS’ interdisciplinary emphases. The donor-funded Joan and James Stukel Scholarship helped him financially.
“One afternoon shortly after graduation,” William said, “I found myself watching a documentary about the lives of support staff at research stations in Antarctica. A few months later, I found myself boarding a C-17 transport jet en route to Earth’s most inhospitable environment.” He worked in Antarctica for 18 months. Today, he’s at the US Antarctic Program in Centennial, Colorado, helping to prepare candidates and newly hired staff to work at U.S. research sites throughout the Antarctica. Here’s a UIS Snapchat Takeover from William Wadas.
Jenetta Thomas | Aspirations
Already a nurse, online student Jenetta Thomas enrolled in the UIS Master’s of Public Health program in 2014 to become a public health educator in her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. In Spring 2018, Jenetta spent two months in the Intensive Care Unit with her gravely ill daughter. “I actually submitted paperwork with my advisor to put my degree on hold because of the stress and not knowing if I could afford it.” Jenetta says, “One week later, I learned I had received the Evelyn Zimmerman Scholarship in Public Health. I can honestly say I would not have been able to continue without it.” Learn about how you can create a scholarship.
Bekha Scott | Devoted to Service
At age 13, UIS alum Bekha Scott was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis (NF2) which caused tumors to grow on her nerves. Bekha always contended that she was not disabled. “I just have a body that doesn’t work.” At UIS, Bekha served as president of the UIS Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity at UIS, and in 2013 received the Distinguished Service Key. She graduated with BS in social work in 2014. In honor of Bekha’s indomitable spirit, her family established the Rebekha Scott Servant Leaders Scholarship at UIS after her death in 2016. Her mother says, “It’s just something Bekha would do. That’s why we did it.”
Sonia Hernandez | Driven to Succeed
Sonia Hernandez’s parents came to the United States as immigrants, seeking acceptance and respect more than power and wealth. Sonia has seen them return home at the end of the day, worn out physically and emotionally from unfair treatment at work. The image of that weariness is driving Sonia. “My dream is to become an international human rights lawyer and advocate for those who feel like they can’t advocate for themselves,” she says. At UIS, Sonia is majoring in Legal Studies and Political Science, The Lee Humphrey Dodd Memorial Scholarship made her journey easier. “The day I cross the stage (at Commencement), I will have many people to thank. The Humphrey family will be among them.”
Tyshianna Bankhead | “Something I Will Use Every Day”
Tyshianna Bankhead majors in Sociology Anthropology at UIS because she wants to stand up against injustice. In the summer of 2017, with the help of the James L. Lundquist Scholarship, she went to The Gambia to work with a local organization seeking to curb traditional practices that harm women. “I get fired up about it because this issue involves the lives of others, and I know we are all part of this life journey together.” Tyshianna plans to work for the police department in the Quad Cities area on issues of diversity and ethnic training. “The study abroad gave me new insight about others who live in another community, within another culture, another world—something I will use every day in my career.”