Garrett Anderson ’10 is the first in his family to graduate from a four-year college. This puts him one step closer to a career helping fellow veterans. More importantly, his graduation left a lasting impression on his 4-year-old daughter.

“She was at my graduation and she thought it was the greatest thing in the world,” he said. “She’ll always have a memory of me walking across the stage, getting my diploma, and seeing her dad out there. I think that was a really exciting time for her. Maybe in the future she’ll want to do that too.”

Anderson joined the U.S. Army as a way to help pay for school. After serving his country, he planned on getting a degree and becoming a police officer. Getting a degree was something his father, a blue-collar painter, always encouraged.

“He never wanted me to work as hard as he had his whole life,” Anderson said.

After serving eight years, he lost his right arm while fighting in Iraq. His injury made a career in law enforcement difficult, so he shifted his focus to helping other veterans. A job with the Department of Veterans Affairs became the new destination, with a degree in criminal justice from Illinois State the first stop.

If hitting the books wasn’t enough, helping his wife raise two daughters while taking care of a typical homeowner’s bills was. When he received the Disability Concerns Educational Scholarship, it relieved the financial pressure so he could concentrate on what was important: his family and his classes.

“There was less stress on life for me,” he said. “I put more focus on school, and that allowed me to graduate on time.”

Disability Concerns made certain tasks, such as asking teachers for help, more comfortable for him. That’s just another reason he advocates for Illinois State.

“When people are thinking about college, I recommend ISU.  If they have challenges or disabilities I say, ‘Listen, get over to Disability Concerns and they’ll take care of you.’”

Disability Concerns Educational Enhancement Scholarship

Recipients are clients of Disability Concerns, enrolled in good standing, and demonstrate financial need. Five scholarships are awarded each year through a fund established by donors who wish to keep their names confidential.