After 10 long years of attending night classes at a community college, Sandy Broers Jurgens ’97 was ready to get her bachelor’s degree.

She chose Illinois State University, even though it was a one-hour commute, because she was familiar with the campus and she had relatives who graduated from ISU.

The empty-nester was in her mid-40s and recently divorced. After working all day, she drove to classes two nights a week for five years. Her goal was to graduate before she turned 50.

Last spring she stood in front of Fell Hall and talked about how fortunate she was as a nontraditional student. She had a secure job, a supportive boss and good friends, including one who was always ready with a cup of tea and conversation during late night visits on the way home from class.

In her senior year, Jurgens received the Scott Scholarship, which helped her pay for books and gas and inspired her to establish a scholarship for nontraditional female students.

“That scholarship meant a great deal to me,” she said. “There are a lot of women like me who didn’t go to college when they should have. After a divorce, when they’re on their own and they find out they need a degree, it’s difficult to go back. I’d like to help them.”

And she will. Through a bequest, she’s established The Sandra Broers Jurgens Endowed Scholarship. Her daughter, Beth, also received a scholarship, a bequest from a teacher who lived through the Depression and died in the 1930s but left money for a scholarship for Magnolia Township students.

“We all want to make a difference in this world,” Jurgens said. “And I found, through the scholarship I received and a scholarship my daughter received, that by leaving money for education you have the opportunity to affect many lives. The ripples go on forever.”

Now a tax specialist for the Illinois Department of Revenue, she wants to help women who face the same struggles she has.