The members of the Family and Consumer Sciences Professionals of McLean County (FCSP) have proved that anything is possible with cooperation and determination through endowing their Outstanding Senior in Family and Consumer Science award.
Formed in 1961, the FCSP provides Illinois State students an outlet for civic engagement and promotes the importance of family and consumer sciences (FCS) as a field. The group’s projects include having a bakeshop booth at the Festival of Trees, this past year raising an impressive $4,600 for the Normal nonprofit The Baby Fold. The group has also donated to the Neville House, an emergency shelter that provides confidential counseling for families to aid in preventing domestic violence.
But the FCSP wanted to do even more. Therefore, the group developed a plan to endow its award for Outstanding Senior in Family and Consumer Sciences.
Charlotte Talkington, FCSP, and Mary Monahan, endowment administrator and a fellow member, labeled the endowment a group effort.
“We aren’t millionaires,” Talkington said. “We’re ordinary people. We want to be able to help people do what we’ve done for the future. The least we can do as an individual and a community is to promote our young people to go on and do bigger and better things.”
“We had a common goal,” said Monahan. “Make something that would last forever.”
Monahan knew the endowment requirement would be a tall order for the members of the FCSP.
“It seemed daunting,” Monahan said. “We thought, it’s a great idea but how are we going to do it?”
To make the endowment seem more attainable, Monahan created a donation outline, designating set giving levels a member could pay over a five-year timeline starting at $25, as well as the number of members required for each giving level to reach the group’s goal.
“As an organization, members generously offered time and talents,” Monahan said. “If everyone is willing to do a little, it adds up to a large thing being accomplished! We applied that principle to the endowment challenge.”
Talkington said the FCSP has a long history of supporting those enrolled in FCS. The members have been allocating money from their dues to go toward financially supporting Illinois State students for many years.
One such student who has benefitted greatly from the FCSP is recent Illinois State graduate Cecily Martinez, who received the Outstanding Senior in Family and Consumer Sciences scholarship in spring 2018.
Martinez said she always thought of herself as a good student, but not exceptional. Receiving the scholarship from the FCSP helped to change her perspective.
“It’s rewarding to have people see how hard I’ve worked,” Martinez said. “I told myself to perform to the best of my ability and I surprised myself by winning the outstanding senior award. That shows what can happen when you try.”
After being awarded her scholarship, Martinez was invited to an FCSP banquet, where she had the opportunity to hear university first lady Marlene Dietz speak. In her speech, Marlene Dietz revealed that her high school guidance counselor had once told her that she was not college material. Later, she invited that counselor to her college graduation.
The story struck a chord with Martinez.
“It touched me,” she said. “I was in the same situation.”
After one of her instructors had seen Martinez’s scores on her high school’s entrance exams, they told her that she wouldn’t achieve anything of merit. The instructor said she hadn’t deserved her acceptance into the private school she was attending, and that she was only allowed in because of her basketball talents.
Now, with hard work, perseverance, and help from other high school instructors who recognized her potential, Martinez has won the Outstanding Senior award, has worked in corporate nutrition for companies like Compass Group USA, Inc., and will enroll in Illinois State’s graduate program in Nutrition in Dietetics in fall 2018.
When hearing of Martinez’s reaction to Marlene Dietz’s speech, Talkington discussed the importance of supporting students and bolstering their drive to succeed.
“Sometimes, we peg people, and we don’t help them develop the potential they have,” Talkington said. “I think we have to be careful not to discourage students. Everyone needs to know they’re important.”
Martinez is just one student to benefit from the FCSP’s scholarship, and there are many more to come now that the award for Outstanding Senior has been endowed. However, Martinez didn’t just receive monetary support from her award. She also received inspiration.
“It motivated me to do more,” Martinez said. “I hope to inspire people to try to be the best that they can be—to lead a healthier and happier life.”
Thanks to the help from FCSP, Martinez is making her hopes a reality and is a living testament to the power of small acts of kindness.