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Larry and Patricia (Hunkler) Stagen were committed to education throughout their lives. Even now, when both Larry and Patricia are deceased, their legacy continues through the Hunkler-Stagen Teaching Scholarship, originally established within the College of Education in 2008.

The Stagens bequeathed $600,000 of their estate to the principal of their scholarship fund. Their generous gift supports Redbirds Rising: The Campaign for Illinois State, and guarantees assistance to generations of ISU students on the path to becoming educators.

Created as a memorial to her parents and grandparents, the scholarship helps undergraduates majoring in education meet a financial need. It pleased both Larry and Patricia to know they were able to help aspiring teachers complete their degree.

A 1961 elementary education graduate, Patricia taught third grade for 32 years. Larry, who finished his degree in English in 1960, taught the subject in high school before working as a guidance counselor for 27 years. With more than six decades combined in the field, the couple actively encouraged others to pursue a career in education.

Melissa Fioretto ’15 was chosen as the scholarship recipient in 2013. She welcomed the opportunity to meet Larry and Patricia, as she was able to express her thanks in person.

“I was amazed at how excited the Stagens were to meet me and get to know my ambitions,” Fioretto said. “I am reminded of the Stagen gift each time I see my student loans. I know they are so much smaller thanks to them.”

Will you make a difference by supporting your passion? Make a contribution to Redbirds Rising: The Campaign for Illinois State by going online to, or calling (309) 438-8184. For information about supporting Illinois State through your estate plans, visit, or call (309) 438-8184.