Freshman Daniel Jackson wants to be the best teacher he can be, so he chose Illinois State University.

Growing up in the Englewood neighborhood on Chicago’s south side, Jackson saw firsthand the need for passionate teachers in Chicago Public Schools. But to reach his ultimate goal, Jackson needed some help—and that’s where Illinois State’s Black Colleagues Association (BCA) made the difference.

Last fall Jackson was awarded the Judge Russell DeBow Scholarship, one of several scholarships offered by the BCA each year.

“Not only have they helped me out, they sowed a seed in me. This seed I can sow in many others,” said Jackson, an elementary education major. “Without good teachers, we don’t have good people.”

Jackson, a first-generation college student, is already very involved at Illinois State. He’s on the Golden Apple Scholars executive board, is part of the Student Government Association’s Emerging Leaders Program, and is a member of the Interdenominational Youth Choir, among other things.

But without the BCA scholarship, he’d have less time for those activities and would have had to borrow more money or ask his parents for additional help.

“Without them (the BCA), there would not be a Daniel Jackson at ISU,” he said.

Black Colleagues Association is a chartered affinity network of the Alumni Association. In addition to the scholarship program, BCA offers social outings, professional networking events, educational opportunities, and other programs. Applications for the next round of BCA scholarships are due in February.

“When I see the students we’ve selected to receive a scholarship, it’s very rewarding because you see how appreciative they are,” said Eyvonna Hemphill ’80, BCA’s scholarship chairperson. “You see how hard they’re working to achieve their aspirations, and that’s the crux of why we do what we do—to help students achieve their dreams.”

Learn more about Jackson and the BCA in the video above.

Bob Tomaski can be reached at Ryan Denham can be reached at