Amie Burke took a year off before she started college, but she wasn’t able to save money for college. Instead, she was spending the year serving as Illinois FFA president, providing leadership to more than 17,000 members and traveling to China for a conference.

More than a few universities were trying to recruit the valedictorian, but Illinois State succeeded. Amie felt comfortable the first time she walked across campus and was also attracted by a scholarship offer. That award, along with other scholarships and jobs, paid for her first year of college.

“Those scholarships are so important,” she said. “That support meant a great deal to me and allowed me to get involved and find my place here. It gave me a really good first-year experience.”

Amie is majoring in agricultural communications and leadership and works four part-time jobs, which includes recruiting for the Agriculture Department and broadcasting Redbird stories on a Champaign radio station.

“Telling our story allows the listeners to hear that the future of agriculture is in good hands,” she said.