Glory Igharo ’19 has big dreams. Thanks to the generosity of others, she has the tools and the drive to reach them.

Igharo came to Illinois State from Nigeria to pursue a master’s in financial economics. While enrolled, she decided to seek a second master’s in quality management and analytics. There was just one problem: securing enough funding to pay for it.

The Dr. Judy Smithson Scholarship that Igharo received enabled her to enroll in a second master’s program.

“It was hard juggling it all. I had an academic coach from the advisor center who helped me develop a system of managing my time,” said Igharo. “I owe a lot to her!”

Scholarship support and hard work improved Igharo’ s financial situation, but she still had to get creative to provide for herself and her son.

“In 2018, someone told me about the Home Sweet Home food pantry—that you could work there for two hours and get a voucher for food in return,” said Igharo. “All through the summer, I worked there to get vouchers to use when school resumed. I didn’t lack anything. All of my income was used for electricity and rent, so food and toiletries came from the food pantry.”

Igharo’s experiences with generosity in the United States—from the scholarship she received to the food pantries she utilized—sparked an idea to start a food pantry in Nigeria.

“I asked staff at Home Sweet Home about how they started their food pantry. They connected me to Midwest Food Bank, who connected me to the director of a food pantry in Kenya,” said Igharo.

Despite her extensive research, Igharo is frank about the challenges she faces in bringing her dream to fruition. “Nigeria lacks the supply chain for a food pantry. Plus, there’s a scarcity mentality. Many people think that if I start a food pantry, the food will be stolen before it’s able to be distributed to those who need it the most,” said Igharo.

Still she is more driven than ever to achieve her goals. “Even if I don’t get funding, I want to start in my own little way. I plan to donate clothes and shoes I no longer use. I will start going to churches to ask what they need. I want to start very small and give what little I have,” Igharo said.

One act of generosity can inspire a thousand more. Since the start of the Redbirds Rising campaign, private support has created more than 206 endowments for student scholarships. To support a student’s dreams today, visit