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BCA scholarship spotlight: Well-rounded

People giving certificate to student

Andrew Stouffer-Lerch (center) receives the Lewis and Mills Scholarship. With him (left to right) Vice President Pat Vickerman, BCA President Karyn Aguire '86, BCA Scholarship Chair Lisa Russell '85, Vice President Levester "LJ" Johnson

Moving from a farm on the outskirts of Madison, Wisconsin, to central Illinois sounds like a natural fit, albeit an abnormal one for an African American student. Abnormal is the most appropriate way to describe Stouffer-Lerch, considering how most African American students find their way to Illinois State University. As he completes his fourth semester at ISU, Stouffer-Lerch is using his unique experience to stay involved on campus and beyond.

Born in Long Beach, California, Stouffer-Lerch and his family moved to a farm in Madison at the age of four. His family started a petting zoo they ran for five years. Along with animals, they also raised eggs and a host of crops. He’s now using that experience on campus with the registered student organization Revolutionize Health and Wellness. Between his work with the group and his frequent basketball sessions at the Student Fitness Center, Stouffer-Lerch is practicing what he preaches by nature of his upbringing.

Besides Revolutionize Health and Wellness, he is also involved in the Actuarial Club. Actuarial science is how Stouffer-Lerch found his way to Illinois State. He participated in the Redbird Risk Management Challenge program the summer before he came to ISU, which is one of only a few in the country. Illinois State has been designated as a Center of Actuarial Excellence, which recognizes the University as one of nine schools having an outstanding actuarial program. In addition to one of his mothers being an actuary, it was this program along with the beautiful campus that lured him to Illinois State.

Along with a scholarship from the National Association of Black Actuaries, he received the Lewis and Mills Endowed Scholarship awarded by Illinois State’s Black Colleagues Association (BCA). Between his job and scholarships, Stouffer-Lerch hasn’t had to take out any loans.

“These scholarships are important because many black students don’t get a lot of support,” said Stouffer-Lerch. “Many are first-generation and it creates a sense of community amongst the folks that received the scholarships and those that made gifts to the scholarships. It’s also really humbling.  It makes me want to make everyone proud. It’s very motivating.”

This summer Stouffer-Lerch will intern with Lincoln Financial Group in Connecticut.