For LaShanti Brown ’16, the memory of receiving a scholarship to Illinois State University is as clear as if it happened yesterday.

“It was a tear-jerking moment,” Brown said. “Receiving the Vittuci Memorial Scholarship means a chance at success. This scholarship has helped me in so many ways.”

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Brown has a passion for criminal justice and is determined to improve her community. “I have goals of restructuring the community by reaching out to individuals who may not have that positive inspiration in their life to help them change,” Brown said.

With an eight-year-old son, finances posed a significant barrier to her dream of obtaining a degree. Those hopes faded even more when she was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease prior to enrolling at ISU.

“Receiving this scholarship was important as a single parent,” said Brown, who cares for her eight-year-old son. “It helped me financially be able to take care of things in life I may not have been able to otherwise.”

Brown is now emerging as a leader in the criminal justice field. She is working as a graduate assistant for the McLean County Courts Probation Office. Last fall she received a fellowship from the Diversifying Higher Education Faculty in Illinois.

She credits her opportunities and success to the scholarship that enabled her to graduate. “You are very much appreciated,” Brown said in speaking of her donors and all who invest in students. “It’s people like you who give students like me a chance at achieving our goals and reaching our dreams. Thank you.”