“I used to live a double life as both firefighter and student,” said Josiah Davidson, a middle-level science and social studies major. That often meant working a 24-hour shift, then driving 100 miles from his hometown of Sullivan to campus for class. Davidson was inspired to change careers after leading firefighter trainings alongside an experienced captain.

“The captain I worked with was able to take incredibly complex tasks and ideas and break them down, explaining them in a way that made sense to me,” said Davidson. “I wanted to be in a position to have the same positive impact on others that my captain had on me, helping them to develop and grow their knowledge and passion for a subject through relevant, hands-on learning experiences.”

Even with a new career in mind, Davidson still needed to keep his day job to pay for his classes. His financial situation received a big boost from two generous donors.

“I received the R. Douglas and Janice Luecke Irvine Scholarship in Education. It has given me the opportunity to concentrate on my new career path and be successful in all that I have done at Illinois State,” said Davidson.

Davidson no longer needs to stretch himself thin due to the scholarship he received, but he’s still hard at work pursuing his dream of becoming a teacher. Originally scheduled to graduate in December 2020, which would make finding a mid-year teaching placement difficult, Davidson’s scholarship enabled him to take an extra class ahead of schedule. He’ll now graduate in May after completing a year of student teaching at Parkside Junior High in Normal.

Davidson isn’t taking his donors’ generosity for granted. He’s grateful for their support. “My donors were willing to help someone they didn’t know achieve a long-time goal. Switching careers seemed impossible just a year ago, and thanks to the ISU community and my scholarship donors, I am finally pursuing my dream of becoming a teacher.”

Illinois State is home to students from all backgrounds and life stages. Scholarships help non-traditional students like Davidson hit their stride at Illinois State. To give the gift of access to non-traditional students, visit Giving.IllinoisState.edu/donate.