Private support is continually enhancing the Illinois State experience. Read how scholarships are opening doors for four Redbirds on the rise.

Social work master's student Rachel Weishar; photo credit Lauren Emily Photography.

Social work master’s student Rachel Weishar; photo credit Lauren Emily Photography.

Rachel Weishar dreams of working as a life coach to help people create, work towards, and achieve their goals. But first, she’s trying to accomplish her own goal: graduating with a master’s degree in social work. Weishar was struggling to make ends meet due to the demands of her rigorous social work program. A 35-hour per week internship plus coursework made it difficult for Weishar to earn and save money. Thanks to the Wilma and Donald R. Haerr Scholarship for Nontraditional Students Weishar received, she’s now able to continue working towards her goals.

“This scholarship saved me and my education,” said Weishar. “I am beyond thankful to have received it.” To her donors, Weishar says, “Your generosity has helped me through one of the most stressful times of my life and has made my dream come true of continuing my education.”

Marketing analytics major Amanda Anderson.

Marketing analytics major Amanda Anderson.

Amanda Anderson doesn’t take for granted the opportunities she’s been given, including the support she’s received from the Kenneth T. Sr. and Deborah A. Glover Endowed Scholarship, the William J. Motchar Endowed Scholarship, and the RitaMae Carroll Student Leadership Fund.

“Talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not,” she said. “I know not everyone has the opportunity to pursue a higher education, so I try not to take a single thing at Illinois State for granted.”

This attitude motivates the marketing analytics major to make the most of her time on campus. Anderson is a marketing intern for the College of Business, vice president of membership for Alpha Kappa Psi, and vice president of marketing for business week. Anderson hopes to one day land her dream job working at Chicago-based marketing firm Leo Burnett, but she harbors another dream too: founding her own animal rescue. No matter what route she takes, Anderson’s experiences at Illinois State provide her a strong foundation.

“I will continue to work hard for the remainder of my time at ISU because of your encouragement,” Anderson said to her donors. “I will always hold so much gratitude for you and your contribution towards my education.”

Theatre and film studies major Adam Bridges, on the Nile River in Uganda.

Theatre and film studies major Adam Bridges, on tha Nile River in Uganda.

At ISU students benefit from hands-on learning experiences that extend beyond the classroom. Adam Bridges knows this personally. Last summer Bridges traveled to Uganda, where he studied dance, rhythm, music, and Ugandan culture alongside School of Theatre students and faculty. An aspiring theatre administrator, Bridges spent the remainder of his summer working in the Bone Student Center as a welcome desk concierge and house staff. Bridges received funds from the Braden Internship Endowment, which helped offset his living expenses while working at the Bone.

“Thank you for creating this opportunity to gain valuable experience in live-event administration,” said Bridges to the donors who funded his scholarship. “I am learning so much and will have greater career choices in the future as a result of the many opportunities I’ve had at Illinois State.”

Biology doctoral candidate Rosario Marroquin-Flores in the field.

Biology doctoral candidate Rosario Marroquin-Flores in the field.

Thanks to the Omar Rilett Award she received, biology doctoral candidate Rosario Marroquín-Flores has been able to present her research at a variety of conferences. “Last year, I was able to use this award to fund a portion of my travel to the Society Advancing Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) research conference,” said Marroquín-Flores.

There, Marroquín-Flores addressed the process for applying to grad school at a professional development session called, “Broadening your Horizons: A Peer Perspective on Applying for Graduate School.” This year, she plans to use funds from the Omar Rilett Award to support travel to the Society of Comparative and Integrative Biology Conference, where she will present new data from her research on turtles. Marroquín-Flores’ research focuses on how the incubation temperature that turtles experience as eggs determines whether the turtle embryos become male or female. In her research, Marroquín-Flores found that the use of constant temperature incubations standard in her field are not always useful for hypothesis testing because environmental temperatures are not static in nature. Marroquín-Flores is excited to present her research because she says, “conferences are critical for communicating research and building connections with prospective colleagues.” She adds, “I really appreciate the support offered by the Omar Rilett Award that allows me to attend these meaningful conferences.”

Join the more than 54,000 donors who have already contributed to scholarship, leadership, and innovation at Illinois State. To learn more about the Redbirds Rising campaign and contribute today, visit