After years of unexplained aches and pains, Sarah Hogan was diagnosed with fibromyalgia—a common and complex chronic pain disorder that makes even mundane tasks excruciating. In an instant, she saw her lifelong dreams of serving in the military or law enforcement vanish.
“That took a big toll on me,” said Hogan, who was just 17 at the time. “I thought, ‘how am I going to change the world now?”’
She found the answer at Illinois State, where she is a sophomore psychology major with a new plan to make a difference—one person at a time—through a career in substance abuse counseling.
Her dream is within reach with help from the University. Hogan was chosen as a scholarship recipient by Student Access and Accommodation Services. She received the Educational Enhancement Scholarship funded by an anonymous donor. The $2,000 award is almost an entire summer’s worth of work, which is challenging for her due to her disability.
The scholarship is also a show of support—from the campus office and donors—for her dream of helping people who are struggling too. She is able to pursue her degree with accommodations through Student Access and Accommodation Services, which is part of Student Affairs.
The scholarship is one of many across the division, which works to enhance student engagement, inclusion, and pride in the University. Numerous scholarships allow students to engage in a variety of programs that enable them to reach their potential.
Hogan praised the campus office for making her transition to college easier from day one. It’s one of the reasons she chose Illinois State. As a freshman, she was supposed to move into a room on the 21st floor of Watterson Towers. Office staff worked with University Housing Services to move her and her roommates to a converted room on the 3rd floor, with direct elevator access.
“They went above and beyond for me,” Hogan said, noting that staff worked with faculty so that she is excused from class in extreme weather and able to use her laptop in class because taking notes is painful. “They’re absolutely fantastic.”
The financial assistance is just another example of help through the office, which began the scholarship program in 2005. The fund has grown to the point that nine students will receive an award this year.
Hogan plans to put the scholarship toward graduate school so she can become a substance abuse counselor. Inspired after helping a friend through his drug abuse recovery, she now has no doubt she will complete her degree.
“I’m not going to let this disease hold me back,” Hogan said. “I’m so motivated to do what I want to do.”