Sara Koziol is a junior history-social sciences education major whose dream job is to teach high school students in her hometown of Joliet. She was inspired to join the education system by her mother who has been an elementary school teacher for 19 years. Koziol’s half-sister is also an education major here at Illinois State. Teaching seems to run in her family. As the recipient of the Ruth M. Goodwin Scholarship, Koziol was given the opportunity to indulge in her passion while reducing her financial burden. After not receiving the scholarship on her first try, Koziol had the Redbird spirit and tried again. This is when she was awarded the scholarship that helped improve her time here at Illinois State. “My family was just elated when I told them the good news. Tears were shed, they were so proud,” said Koziol.

Coming from a single parent household can be stressful when it comes to applying and paying for college tuition, so Koziol is especially grateful for the support. “Earning the scholarship made me feel heard as a student and as an education major. It made me realize that what I am doing now matters for the future of myself and my students,” said Koziol. “This scholarship was another affirmation and confirmation of why I am here at ISU today.”

Along with the Ruth M. Goodwin Scholarship, Koziol is also a Golden Apple Scholar, which means that she will work for a low-income school after graduating. Koziol is passionate about giving back to the community and helping underprivileged kids get the education they deserve.

Koziol has taken advantage of the opportunities she has been given here at Illinois State by joining the ISU History Club, interning for the Department of English, and serving as an undergraduate teaching assistant for her sociology class. She has also made the Dean’s List three times. Koziol has a plan for her life-to make it meaningful. “My biggest goal is to make an impact and a genuine difference in the lives of the students in my classroom,” says Koziol. “I want to be that teacher who people remember forever.”

Determined to give back

Deaf education major Mark Reppen

Deaf education major Mark Reppen

Another education major making waves is Mark Reppen, a Greenebaum Memorial Fund recipient. Reppen is a senior deaf education major hoping to work in a deaf residential school following graduation. He plans to teach at a junior high or high school and wants deaf children to have the same opportunities as hearing students. Reppen originally graduated from Illinois State with a degree in criminal justice but ended up discovering his passion for helping Deaf children while assisting as an aid in a Deaf education classroom. It was then Reppen realized his calling helping deaf and hard of hearing students reach their greatest potential. Of the decision to pursue another degree, Reppen said, “It was a great opportunity for me to go back for a second degree at ISU since I am already familiar with the culture and rules of campus.”

As a deaf student himself, Reppen knows first-hand how challenging it is going to school with hearing classmates. “I want to be that person who gives back so students know that they can do anything they want to do even if they have a disability,” said Reppen. “We can all learn to work through our disadvantages.”

Reppen thought about being a teacher for the deaf when he was growing up but wanted to explore other opportunities. After graduating the first time, Reppen was concerned about how he would pay for a second degree, since he pays for his tuition himself. This is where the Greenebaum Memorial Fund came in. It enabled Reppen to focus on his education and reduce the stress of buying things like textbooks and school supplies. “It was a huge motivation and one less thing I needed to worry about while I am studying for my second degree.”

Scholarships like these not only help students and families financially but also encourage students to pursue their passions. Redbirds Rising: The Campaign for Illinois State is designed with students’ success in mind. With a goal of $150 million, Redbirds Rising will allow students and faculty to have new resources to enhance the academic experience and prepare students to enter the world confident in their after-graduation plans. To join thousands of givers supporting students like Sara Koziol and Mark Reppen, please visit