Chester and Judy Pulaski give the gift of time, leave a lasting legacy
Chester “Bud” Pulaski, ’69, M.A. ’73, Ed.D. ’86 and wife Judy Pulaski, ’69 have a soft spot for Illinois State University. It was, after all, the site of their blind date over 48 years ago—Bud’s last blind date and Judy’s first and only.
As part of Redbirds Rising: The Campaign for Illinois State, the couple has chosen to honor the place that gave them their start with the establishment of the Pulaski Transfer Student Scholarship in Education. Preference is given to incoming transfer students pursuing a degree in elementary education or secondary education. The initial gift of appreciated securities and subsequent gifts using the IRA charitable rollover aim to ease students’ financial burden of attending college.
Bud and Judy have lived in Wisconsin for nearly 30 years, but remember fondly their time at ISU. Bud was on the track and cross-country teams. Judy enjoyed the wide range of instruction offered as part of her elementary education major, including how to teach gym, music, and art. “These classes gave me a better background for working with other teachers. I understood where other teachers were coming from, and I knew some of the things they had to do. ISU really prepared me to start teaching,” says Judy.
While Judy experienced ISU’s teacher preparation first-hand as an elementary and secondary education teacher during her 41-year teaching career, Bud has seen it through the lens of a school administrator and high school principal. “Any time I had the opportunity to interview an Illinois State graduate—I wasn’t looking for one—but they always seemed to shine above others,” said Bud. As an adjunct for Concordia University’s Principals Preparation Program, Bud now works with graduate students, principals and interns, two of whom are Illinois State graduates. “The caliber of person as a teacher who comes out of ISU has continued to be exemplary.”
When the two began reflecting on the legacy they would leave, they decided to create a scholarship at Illinois State. “I think as one gets older, you become more and more oriented to thinking ‘What kind of impact, what kind of legacy have I left on the planet Earth?’” said Bud. “It becomes more and more apparent that the best way to have an impact is to work with the young people who are going to continue on.”
The decision to help transfer students through their philanthropy was a natural one. Judy transferred to Illinois State from Joliet Junior College with the help of a State of Illinois scholarship. “We couldn’t afford for me to go all four years,” said Judy of the financial hurdles she faced in attending college. “We thought when we set up a scholarship, because of my experience of having a scholarship, it would be good for others too.”
Thanks in part to Judy’s scholarship, and Judy and Bud’s commitment to working over the summer while in college, both were able to focus on school work and extra-curriculars during the school year. Because of this experience, they recognize that their scholarship doesn’t just afford students financial resources. Most importantly, said Bud, “It gives the gift of time.”
When Bud and Judy attended last fall’s Tasty Tour, a stewardship event for members of the 1857 Society which honors ISU’s most generous benefactors, they heard from scholarship recipients from across the University. “It’s amazing how many hold multiple jobs,” said Bud. “Our second recipient is also a mother, and of course that’s time consuming. Students need time away from having to work so they can study. Giving them that chance is very rewarding.”
The two remain committed to supporting not just individual students, but higher education as a whole. Citing Wisconsin’s recent funding cuts for public schools, Bud is convinced: “When you don’t have good educators, you don’t have a well-trained civil population, and we want this place to continue in great shape.”
“We’re big believers of public education,” echoed Judy, “We thought giving to a state university would be money well spent for the recipient.”
Both Bud and Judy are excited about ISU’s success amidst state budget concerns. They’re also motivated by the University’s direction, thanks to Redbird Rising: The Campaign for Illinois State, which promotes scholarship, leadership, and innovation. Says Bud, “It’s been fun getting to have conversations with President Dietz and knowing how Illinois State has maintained not only its reputation but also solid student enrollment. We’re just really pleased with Illinois State University.”
Pleased is also the word they use to describe how they feel about the impact they’ve had on Illinois State.
“It’s great seeing how much the younger generation has going for it,” said Bud. “We’re going to leave this planet in good hands. But we have to provide the tools and support for the coming generation to do what they can.”
You, too, can make an impact. Join Bud and Judy and thousands of other Redbirds by giving now to scholarship, leadership, and innovation at Illinois State.