Incoming Illinois State freshman Parker Daugherty could sense the excitement.
He was serving one afternoon through Feed My Sheep, a program his church started a few years ago that provides meals to students who qualify for free and reduced school lunches. Daugherty, who just graduated from LeRoy High School, was stuffing food in a backpack when a little boy let out a gleeful yell. It turned out Daugherty had just packed his favorite cereal.
Growing up in McLean County, Daugherty has been involved in community projects throughout his life. He’s participated in Key Club, UNICEF, Kiwanis, and Red Cross events. He’s seen firsthand the importance of helping others who need it.
“To me, giving back means helping people who are struggling and those who do not have the privileges that you do,” Daugherty said. “Everyone should want to contribute to make the world a better place. I give back because I believe it is my duty as part of the human race.”
Daugherty’s commitment to service earned him a McLean County Full Tuition Scholarship, which provides free tuition to students who have a history of leadership, community service, and commitment to our community. He will study theatre teacher education at Illinois State. He is one of seven incoming Redbird recipients.
“I am honored to receive this scholarship,” Daugherty said. “What matters most is that I have been able to help my community and that I have made a positive impact.”
Having a wide range of interests, Daugherty was unsure of what area of study he wanted to pursue after his senior year at LeRoy. Ultimately, he stayed on the service path and decided to go into teaching. He found that the theatre teacher education major at Illinois State encompassed his desire to one day teach with his passions for the arts.
Daugherty, who plans to involve himself both in and out of the classroom while at Illinois State, is particularly excited and intrigued to continue serving his home region. He noted how the needs of a local community can be unknowingly overlooked by some organizations that are focusing on bigger projects with a global perspective. Daugherty said the experiences that have had the biggest impacts on him are the ones where he’s seen just how far a small contribution can go, such as picking out an underprivileged child’s favorite cereal.
He believes the people are what make McLean County a desirable place to call home, and he’s excited to continue serving it during his time a Redbird by taking advantage of Illinois State’s multiple civic engagement opportunities.
“I hope the leadership and civic engagement that I bring to campus will be sharpened as a result of this scholarship allowing me to pair my academics with serving others,” Daugherty said. “I hope to find new ways to make a difference during my ISU collegiate experience.”