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Meet the first-ever McLean County Full Tuition Scholarship winners

Dan Chastain and Claire Meyer pose in front of the State Farm Hall of Business

Illinois State freshmen Dan Chastain and Claire Meyer were two of seven inaugural winners of the McLean County Full Tuition Scholarship, recognizing civic engagement and service work in the local community.

What does it mean to be a Redbird? It starts with Illinois State University’s core values, and a group of seven freshmen is being recognized for embracing those values before even arriving on campus.

The new McLean County Full Tuition Scholarship is awarded to incoming Redbirds from McLean County—right in Illinois State’s backyard—who have gone above and beyond when it comes to the University’s core value of civic engagement.

With the University working to prepare students to be engaged global citizens who make a difference in their community, these freshmen have already shown a commitment to giving back. The seven winners have combined to volunteer more than 750 hours of their time to service work during their high school careers. Their efforts stood out from an applicant pool that amassed more than 9,480 hours.

Meet the inaugural group of McLean County Full Tuition Scholarship winners:


Name: Maddie Adelman

Major: Music therapy

Hometown: Bloomington

High School: Central Catholic

McLean County Full Tuition Scholarship winner Maddie Adelman stands in front of Cook Hall

Maddie Adelman

Why did you get so involved in service in the community?

I love knowing that I am able to help people with big or small acts of service. It makes me happy to know that I was able to help someone in some way.

What’s your favorite service-related memory?

One of my favorite memories is when I helped with Penguin Project last year. The Penguin Project allows individuals with disabilities the opportunity to perform on stage with the assistance of a mentor. Every time at rehearsal my artist always put a smile on my face when I saw him with the other artists.

What’s one thing people should know about you outside of your civic engagement work?

I love being a part of musicals and plays. My favorite part of performing is seeing the audience enjoying the performance.

What does receiving the McLean County Full Tuition Scholarship mean to you?

This scholarship means a lot to me. I am appreciative that I have been recognized for all the service I’ve done in my community. This scholarship also helps me and my family financially so I’m able to get a college education.

What are you most looking forward to about life as a Redbird?

Meeting new people in the School of Music. I want to make new friends that love music as much as I do. I also really want to go on an Alternative Spring Break and help people in need.


 

Name: Tristan Bixby

Major: Theatre-acting

Hometown: Bloomington

High school: Normal Community

Why did you get so involved in service in the community?

At the beginning of my sixth-grade year, my older brother became a school shooting survivor. It motivated me to look into why and how it happened, and I wanted to make a difference. Once I was introduced to the world of politics I ventured outside the topic of school safety.

McLean County Full Tuition Scholarship winner Tristan Bixby stands in front of the Center for Performing Arts

Tristan Bixby

What’s your favorite service-related memory?

While on a mission trip to Heifer Farms, my youth group had the opportunity to spend 24 hours in their Global Village. We were assigned to several different living conditions that simulated what it would be like to live in the assigned region. It was an eye-opening experience that showed the importance of teamwork and empathy.

What’s one thing people should know about you outside of your civic engagement work?

I love theater so, so, so much. I have been an active participant in theater for over 11 years now, and I have participated in approximately 25 shows. I plan on acting for the rest of my life, and I can’t wait to study my passion at Illinois State.

What does receiving the McLean County Full Tuition Scholarship mean to you?

This scholarship is a chance for me to practice leadership and communication in an environment where my financial situation won’t be a burden. This opportunity is a great way to recognize the next generation of leaders in our area, and I am honored to be a recipient.

What are you most looking forward to about life as a Redbird?

I know that with this new environment I’ll learn more about myself, the leaders around me, and new ways I can have a positive impact on my community.


 

Name: Ama Blankson

McLean County Full Tuition Scholarship winner Ama Blankson stands on the Quad

Ama Blankson

Major: Business administration

Hometown: Normal

High school: Normal Community West

Why did you get so involved in service in the community?

I wanted to improve my high school experience by joining a club. The clubs that interested me most were Key Club and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) since they were very hands on.

What’s your favorite service-related memory?

My best friend volunteered with me, so while we worked we also got to spend time together both in and out of school.

What’s one thing people should know about you outside of your civic engagement work?

I was also involved with band and have been playing saxophone for eight years. I’m also teaching myself Korean so I can travel to Korea, and I want to learn Japanese and improve the little Spanish I know. Before I die, I want to be multilingual and learn as many languages as possible.

What does receiving the McLean County Full Tuition Scholarship mean to you?

The opportunity means a lot to me because not many people can say they got a free ride to college. I feel like I’m a part of a special club that only a few people can get into. I also don’t have to worry about student loans, so that’s a good feeling.

What are you most looking forward to about life as a Redbird?

Starting all over again. Since people on campus don’t know me, I can be who I truly am. I also look forward to meeting new people and creating life-changing memories I can look back on.


 

Name: Dan Chastain

McLean County Full Tuition Scholarship winner Dan Chastain stands in front of the State Farm Hall of Business

Dan Chastain

Major: Accounting information systems

Hometown: LeRoy

High school: LeRoy

Why did you get so involved in service in the community?

My first opportunity came from church. I really liked my time serving, so I kept doing it more and more.

What’s your favorite service-related memory?

Working with friends to make an impact on someone’s life, all the while learning more and more about each other and becoming closer friends.

What are you most looking forward to about life as a Redbird?

Gaining independence and taking on more responsibilities for myself.


 

Name: Shelby Enghausen

Major: Undeclared

Hometown: Saybrook

High school: Ridgeview

Why did you get so involved in service in the community?

McLean County Full Tuition Scholarship winner Shelby Enghausen stands in front of the Center for Performing Arts

Shelby Enghausen

I have always enjoyed making a difference in people’s lives, so I thought the best way to do that was through community service.

What’s your favorite service-related memory?

My favorite memory would have to be when I distributed poppies handmade by veterans in exchange for donations to be given back to the veterans. I learned so much from the experience, and it helped me become a better person.

What’s one thing people should know about you outside of your civic engagement work?

I love creating art. Whether my artwork is for an art class or theater productions, I always feel free to express myself, and it gives me an escape from reality.

What does receiving the McLean County Full Tuition Scholarship mean to you?

It’s difficult to put into words how appreciative I am for this scholarship. The McLean County Full Tuition Scholarship truly means everything to me, and I am so happy that I received it.

What are you most looking forward to about life as a Redbird?

I am super excited to make more friends and memories that will last a lifetime.


 

Name: Luke Knecht

Major: Criminal justice sciences

Hometown: Bloomington

High school: Tri-Valley

Why did you get so involved in service in the community?

I played high school football, and we made a big deal about helping out in the community. I found I really enjoyed it, so I helped out in any way I could. Doing that got me involved in projects where I met lots of great people who further developed my interest in helping the community.

What’s your favorite service-related memory?

McLean County Full Tuition Scholarship winner Luke Knecht stands in front of Schroeder Hall

Luke Knecht

I was involved in what was called the Serve Project. The program was done through my church, and I first got involved building park benches. My favorite part was looking around and seeing all the people who lived nearby watching us build the benches. They were so appreciative of what we did that they even brought us some drinks as a thank you. It made me feel good to know people enjoyed what we did.

What’s one thing people should know about you outside of your civic engagement work?

I’m a part of the Army ROTC. I’ve always had a lot of respect for individuals in the military, and going to college I knew I wanted to play my part as well. I also try to involve myself in many activities. I like being a part of something and meeting people.

What does receiving the McLean County Full Tuition Scholarship mean to you?

This scholarship is a way for me to really experience college in a great way. I was always worried about how I would pay for college, and because of this scholarship I know that I can work hard on my studies without the worry of cost.

What are you most looking forward to about life as a Redbird?

My dad was a Redbird and always told me stories of his college experience, and it really showed me how much I would enjoy being a part of Illinois State. I know I’ll enjoy being a Redbird.


 

Name: Claire Meyer

Major: Marketing

Hometown: Bloomington

High school: Normal Community

Why did you get so involved in service in the community?

McLean County Full Tuition Scholarship winner Claire Meyer stands in front of the State Farm Hall of Business

Claire Meyer

My involvement in the community started back in elementary school when I joined Girl Scouts of Central Illinois. Through Girl Scouts, I was able to volunteer at local retirement homes, food banks, and schools, among other places. I saw the difference I was able to make and continued my involvement all the way through high school. I genuinely had fun and loved meeting new people while participating in events that help others.

What’s your favorite service-related memory?

One of my favorite memories is my involvement with Normal Community’s Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) chapter, specifically when we volunteered at Evans Junior High School. We helped students learn about different jobs they could pursue with hard work in high school and college, and taught them about business attire through an interactive presentation I created.

What’s one thing people should know about you outside of your civic engagement work?

I love to travel. My parents have always taught me the importance of experiencing different cultures to learn about how other people think and live. In the future I want to continue to experience the world through travel and hope to study abroad during my time at Illinois State.

What does receiving the McLean County Full Tuition Scholarship mean to you?

My goals are to attain a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a master’s degree in business and health care administration, but that will require a significant financial commitment. Receiving this scholarship has helped me reduce my financial concerns while allowing me to focus more time on studying, engaging in service learning, and participating in student organizations focused on helping the University, its students, and the community.

What are you most looking forward to about life as a Redbird?

I am very excited to join various clubs and participate in service-related organizations so I can continue to meet new people, stay active in my community, and experience new things as a Redbird.

Learn more about the McLean County Full Tuition Scholarship, awarded to new freshmen from McLean County for demonstrating leadership, service, and commitment to our community.

Related Article: Tristan Bixby uses family trauma as motivation, earns McLean County Full Tuition Scholarship The Illinois State freshman worked to make her voice heard and make a difference in the community.

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