Five friends establish Redbird 5 Scholarship
Five alumni felt so strongly that Illinois State University provided a basis for their professional success that the friends decided to create the Redbird 5 Scholarship to make a difference in current students’ lives.
Larry Apfelbaum ’83, an attorney with Konaski & Associates; Mark Bruker ’85, MS ’87, Ogilvy and Mather; Jeff Charnogorsky ’85, owner of Performance Enterprises; Bob Freitag ’84, McLean County Circuit Court judge; and Tom Pfeiff ’83, a defense attorney, annually contribute to the scholarship, which is awarded to a student with a major in the College of Arts and Sciences who has demonstrated strong academic achievement and financial need.
This year, the Redbird 5 Scholarship was awarded to sophomore Maggy Gleason of Elkhart. She received the award at the annual College of Arts and Sciences Awards Ceremony. “I was thrilled to be selected as the Redbird 5 scholarship recipient, as was my family,” Gleason said. ” I was able to meet three of the five scholarship contributors. They all have become very successful after graduating from Illinois State, and their desire to contribute back to the University is admirable. I was very honored to receive this scholarship and cannot thank the Redbird 5 contributors enough.”
Apfelbaum said his parents were not able to help him financially with his education, but he was “fortunate to get grants and other financial aid” without which he could not “imagine where I would be right now.” He said he wanted to help others have the same opportunity. “I remember my first visit to campus in 1982,” he said. “It just felt right. I was welcomed by everyone I met, and the campus was just the right size. The education I received at Illinois State definitely was the foundation for me to attend law school and achieve many other things in my life.”
Bruker, Pfeiff and Charnogorsky met on Walker Hall 2 North. Freitag was Charnogorsky’s campaign manager when he ran for and won the election for student body president, and Bruker worked on the campaign. Apfelbaum is “the new guy on the block,” whom the group met through Freitag. Four of the five usually journey to Las Vegas for the NCAA basketball tournament, and this year Apfelbaum may join them.
Charnogorsky said when the five friends return to campus, there is always a rush of memories and good times. He said the scholarship originated with the friends because they believe an education is the most important asset an individual can possess. “I was fortunate to receive a great education at Illinois State, and I wanted to be able to help others with their dreams,” he said, noting that all of the friends feel the same way. “None of us came from money, so we understand how hard it is to make it today with the cost of higher education.”