Colleen Cakora ’12 blended two fields at ISU, gained practical experience, and graduated with limited debt.

A transfer student, Cakora enrolled uncertain of a career path. An academic advisor helped her realize a mix of public relations and political science was a perfect fit. She majored in both, wasting no time applying her classroom knowledge.

Cakora took on two campus internships. Her senior year, she tackled the challenge of organizing Communication Week. The capstone event held each spring showcases what can be done with a degree in communications.

 “It was a fantastic experience,” Cakora said, recalling the work and satisfaction of seeing such an event from concept to completion. She gained even more experience while handling communication for ISU’s PRSSA chapter.

She could maximize such opportunities to build her professional skills because of financial help received through the College of Arts and Sciences. Scholarships helped cover expenses that would otherwise have required a student loan.

“I am so very thankful for that,” Cakora said, noting the support did more than provide relief after graduation. “It was a great opportunity for a recent graduate to see people giving back and helping out current students.” 

Cakora has no doubt her college experience made it possible for her to excel in a sales job in the Chicago restaurant industry right out of college. She is now pursuing a communication position in a marketing or advertising agency.

“I am young enough to explore my options,” Cakora said, expressing gratitude for the support she received at Illinois State—in the classroom and financially—while preparing for the working world.

“I feel lucky.”