Students using the Lincoln Scholars Initiative to help pay for their undergraduate degrees say the scholarships offer them the chance to explore the possibilities within the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. The scholarships also help them make important decisions about their futures.
The first in her family to attend college, psychology major and integrative biology minor Ryan Evans knows how a helping hand can make education more effective and possible. She has a dream that comes full circle: She wants to return to her home town of Homewood, Illinois, as a school psychologist with a specialist's degree.
Comparing her scholarship to a ladder that allowed her to pursue opportunities without being held back by finances, Evans said: "With this ladder I can climb higher and with more ease than I believe otherwise."
Taking full advantage of all Illinois has to offer, economics major and math minor Jasper Lown participated in many extracurricular activities, including serving as treasurer of the Scandinavian Club. Jasper also completed an internship with Dearborn National, an insurance company, and plans to work there after graduation as a group underwriter.
"Without this financial assistance, I would not only have not decided to attend Illinois," he said, "but I very well may have not been able to invest in a university education altogether."
Ceazar A. Castañeda
English major Ceazar Castañeda has split his time as an undergraduate serving as a summer research fellowship analyzing the memoirs of Gwendolyn Brooks and participating in an improvisational comedy group, Spicy Clamato. Ultimately, he hopes to become a professor so he can impact the lives of students in the same way Illinois impacted him.
"Part of what allows me to pursue programs like the one I am in is the security granted by kindness," he said. "Efforts from donors are not just for my sake, but for the sake of dozens of other students like myself with brighter futures thanks to them."
Someday, Alexis Ray will literally be a life-saver. The O'Fallon, Illinois, native will receive a bachelor's degree in molecular and cellular biology, and is considering several medical school acceptance offers. Thanks to being a Lincoln Scholar, she will be one step closer to reaching a dream: becoming an emergency medicine physician.
"The Lincoln Scholars program is the reason I came to the University of Illinois," Alexis said. "It is why I plan to stay in Illinois throughout my career as a physician."