Until last week Judith (Sancken) Rothermel ’72 and Matthew Mugavero had never met, their lives separated by a few generations and 130 miles between their hometowns. But they share a passion.

That passion is for quality physical education in public schools. Rothermel is a retired PE teacher, so committed to the profession that she set up a scholarship at Illinois State University to support future PE teachers. Mugavero, a junior from Tinley Park whose parents are both educators, is the fourth recipient of the Judith Sancken Rothermel Scholarship.

Judith and Matt pose

Retired physical education teacher Judith (Sancken) Rothermel ’72 and her scholarship recipient, Matthew Mugavero.

Rothermel and Mugavero were one of several student-donor meetings at the School of Kinesiology and Recreation’s Academic Achievement and Services Awards ceremony April 22 at Bone Student Center.

“It’s a prestigious award. It means a lot to me,” said Mugavero, president of the Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE) Club and a school ambassador. “I’m happy that all my hard work has paid off in some way.”

Private giving impacts every part of Illinois State, including the School of Kinesiology and Recreation. In all, 30 students will receive scholarships and awards this year through the ISU Foundation and its donors, totaling $19,000.

Another scholarship recipient is Tony Rossi, a senior athletic training major. He received the Joyce Morton Kief Future Professional Award, established in 2006 to honor the retired School of Kinesiology and Recreation faculty member and former women’s track and field coach.

Tony and his parents pose

Scholarship recipient Tony Rossi with his parents at the awards ceremony April 22, 2016.

Rossi, the president of Illinois State’s Athletic Training Club, graduated in May and plans to pursue his master’s degree in applied exercise science at Oklahoma State University. The former high school athlete will work as a graduate student athletic trainer for Oklahoma State’s football team.

The scholarship money will help Rossi make the transition to grad school.

“It’s an incredibly humbling moment for me to be honored by one of the most successful educators and leaders that this institution has ever had,” said Rossi, who researched Kief’s career before meeting her at the ceremony. “There are no words to thank her enough or say how meaningful this is to me.”

Two years ago Kief created a second award, the Robert “Doc” Kief Scholarship, in honor of her late husband (a former Redbird athletic trainer). Joyce and Doc met at Illinois State.

“It is a way for us to give back to Illinois State, which played a major role in our professional careers,” said Joyce. “Bob’s award helps a nontraditional student who has an interest in athletic training and plans to work in an educational setting. Hopefully his legacy will inspire future students who have these same goals. I always look forward to the spring awards ceremony to learn of the accomplishments and goals of the scholarship recipients.”

Private giving impacts the School of Kinesiology and Recreation in many ways, including funding equipment, professional development opportunities for students, and alumni activities.

“In challenging financial times, continued financial support is critical to maintain premier undergraduate and graduate programs,” said Interim School Director Dan Elkins. “We are honored to be regularly supported by our generous donors and very much appreciate the support.”

The awards ceremony was a showcase for the School of Kinesiology and Recreation’s top student leaders and student researchers, with each awardee given the opportunity to make a short speech in front of their parents, faculty, and College of Applied Science and Technology leaders.

Doris and her two scholarship recipients

Associate Professor Mary Henninger introduces the recipients of this year’s Doris E. Henderson Physical Education Teacher Education Academic and Professional Leadership Award. Henderson is standing on the left.

Seated with the other donors in the front row was Professor Emerita Doris Henderson, who continued serving students in retirement by setting up the Doris E. Henderson Physical Education Teacher Education Academic and Professional Leadership Award. Two students received the award this year: Katherine Chalmers and Melissa Marcus.

Henderson is especially proud that her endowed scholarship will live on forever.

“It just gives you such a wonderful feeling on the inside,” said Henderson. “You meet the students and they’re so grateful and happy, and they’re so excited about you meeting their parents too.”

“I believe that if you can afford to do it (give), you should,” she said. “I’m just glad I can.”

Learn more about giving to the School of Kinesiology and Recreation.

Ryan Denham can be reached at rmdenha@IllinoisState.edu.

One thought on “Shared passions fuel scholarships in School of Kinesiology and Recreation

  1. Alexei Altonen says:

    We are so happy Joyce Morton Kief and Bob Kief are still with their ISU birdies!