As the technology around us advances, the demand for computer experts rises. Incoming Redbird Levi Schaut realized this from a young age, building upon his passion for technology for as long as he can remember.

Schaut, transferring to Illinois State this fall from Heartland Community College, is majoring in computer science.

“I believe there will be a large demand for computer experts in the future,” said Schaut. “It’s part of the reason why I chose to pursue computer science.” 

However, Schaut can trace his love for computers to his favorite pastime: playing video games.

“From a young age, I have had a very strong passion for video games,” said Schaut. “Video games first drew my interest in computer programming.”

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While attending Normal Community West High School, Schaut realized his potential for math and computer science. Schaut took his classes very seriously and further kindled his passion for computers by being a part of the school’s Tech Club.

Schaut enjoyed Tech Club; however, his favorite high school activity was Best Buddies, an organization that seeks to develop friendships between people with and without intellectual or developmental disabilities. 

“Best Buddies helped me make friends,” said Schaut. “It allowed me to be in an understanding environment, which was really important for me.” 

Once Schaut arrived at Heartland, he realized the school did not have a Best Buddies chapter, so he pushed to bring one there. 

“We’re still in the process of establishing the chapter,” said Schaut. “However, if all goes to plan, there will be a Best Buddies chapter at Heartland next year.”

Without access to a Best Buddies chapter, Schaut found other ways to get involved. He joined Heartland’s Honors Program. Specifically, Schaut was a part of the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honors Society, which focuses on volunteering and community service. While in PTK, Schaut and his peers completed research projects while volunteering in the community. Schaut is especially proud of his research presentation he delivered at an honors symposium. Additionally, Schaut was a member of Project Rise, a TRiO program that helps disadvantaged students succeed academically.

“The resources from Project Rise really helped me get involved and become more confident,” said Schaut. “My peer mentor had a huge impact on my life.” 

Schaut is receiving Illinois State’s PTK Scholarship. The scholarship is a highly competitive and prestigious award for incoming transfer students and is only available to members of the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society.

Schaut is excited to continue his involvement at Illinois State. He is eager to join Illinois State’s Best Buddies chapter and is currently looking into other registered student organizations. Schaut was also looking forward to his classes as well as the resources that the University has to offer.

As he lives within walking distance, enrolling at Illinois State was an easy decision for Schaut.

“I get to save money and don’t have to commute a long distance,” said Schaut. “It works great.”

Schaut has arrived at Illinois State after achieving a 4.0 GPA at Heartland and receiving the Educational Opportunities Association (EOA) Board of Directors TRiO Scholarship for the state of Illinois. Additionally, Schaut gained entry into Illinois State through Redbird Promise, a program that offers guaranteed admission to Illinois community college students transferring to Illinois State.

After finishing his last two years of undergraduate study, Schaut wants to pursue graduate school. Evenutally, Schaut would like to work in the world of technology. He is interested in cybersecurity, computer programming, web design, and software engineering. As peers and mentors have told him that he would be a good teacher, Schaut is also considering becoming an educator.

Schaut is the third of five new Redbirds we are featuring on during the first weeks of the fall semester. 

Apply now for spring, summer, or fall 2020, or set up a visit to our campus.