When Jerry Gilmore graduated from Illinois State University in 1974, he left with more than a degree. He left with confidence—in his new career choice, and in himself.

But Jerry’s Illinois State experience wouldn’t have been possible without the privately funded scholarships he received. Today, he gives back to his alma mater by supporting one of the University’s most successful alumni groups, the Black Colleagues Association, which offers student scholarships.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, Jerry began a rewarding career in the Illinois corrections system. Jerry recently retired but still does private security work in the Chicago area.

Jerry says his successful career is a result of his hard work inside and outside of the classroom, including his involvement with the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. Through Jerry’s involvement in Kappa Alpha Psi and other activities around campus, he built many friendships that he still values today.

 Here is more on Why My Gift Matters, in Jerry’s own words:

What motivated you to give to Illinois State?

I have always been committed to giving back to Illinois State. I am just trying to do the right thing. The great experience I had when I was a student has a lot to do with why I give back. When I was a student at Illinois State, I received scholarships made possible by private support. Without those scholarships I would not have been able to attend the University.

Why did you decide give to the Black Colleagues Association?

Because I know that they are a good group of people that genuinely care about their students. My experience with the Black Colleagues Association is that they show true concern for the future of their students. I love that they help prepare them to be the professionals that they are going to have to be when they leave Illinois State.

What impact has Illinois State had on your life?

Illinois State had a very positive effect on my life. I moved into the workforce confident in my knowledge and skills. Not only did I feel confident going into my career, but I also felt like a more confident young man. I built strong friendships that have lasted this whole time. It was at Illinois State that I really grew into a hardworking man with a passion for helping others.

Read more stories about the impact of giving on Illinois State students.