The College of Education is proud to have two students named Bone Scholars for the 2020–2021 school year. Andrew Brodbeck, a senior special education major from Canton, and Kaytlin Halperin, a senior early childhood education major from Bloomington, were both notified of this prestigious honor just before the end of the spring 2020 semester. Fourteen total students were selected for this award.

The Bone Scholarship is the highest university-wide honor given to undergraduate students and is named in honor of the late Robert G. Bone, president of Illinois State University from 1956–1967.

Upon being nominated by their academic department/school, students must complete an application highlighting their engagement and leadership on campus and in the community. Those selected as finalists submit essays, statements, letters of recommendation, and projects for evaluation.

Andrew Brodbeck has been involved in a variety of extracurricular experiences during his time at Illinois State University. Not only has this honors student taken part in groups such as Men’s Glee Club, Kappa Delta Epsilon, and College Mentors for Kids, but he was also selected as a Special Education Ambassador and served on the College of Education Elections Committee. Brodbeck also serves in the community by tutoring an adult with Down syndrome through Redbird Readers and has helped that student get involved in local theater.

Once nominated by professors Allison Kroesch and Yun-Ching Chung from the Department of Special Education, Brodbeck got all his application information pulled together, which was a large task. During his research for the award application, he found out that his former babysitter had been named as a Bone Scholar previously, which further drove him to earn the award.

Upon receiving the final word that he was named a Bone Scholar, Brodbeck was very excited.

“It is just such a huge honor,” said Brodbeck. “This will push me to continue working hard in my Field Base this semester, providing fuel to my fire.”

Brodbeck’s interest in becoming a special education teacher started when he was in elementary school, assisting with two fellow classmates who had special needs. He also worked at an area week-long camp for students with disabilities when he was younger and has always been inspired by the positive attitudes of the students with whom he has worked.

After graduation, Brodbeck plans to stay in the Bloomington-Normal area to begin his teaching career.

Kaytlin Halperin has truly enhanced her already existing spirit of exploration during her time at Illinois State. She has been involved in a wide variety of organizations on campus and in the community, including Gamma Phi Circus, Rising Stars Academy of Gymnastics and Tumbling, and a community theater program at Ewing Park to empower young girls.  Additionally, she studied abroad in France, started her own non-profit, and has initiated a research project focusing on the effect that enrollment in dual language education programs has on student social competence.

When Halperin found out she was nominated by professor Miranda Lin and assistant professor Christie Angleton in the School of Teaching and Learning, she was elated but knew she had a lot of work to do to distill everything she’s ever done into one application.

“It was long and tough,” said Halperin. “But I’m so glad that I went through the process because it really helped me to focus my attention on what I have done and helped me formulate a clear plan for my future.”

Halperin plans to teach abroad in a French-speaking country once she graduates. She would love to go to Haiti, where her mother is from, to teach and write children’s books about people she meets.

After that, she plans to return to the United States to teach in a forest kindergarten. She has spent a large portion of her life camping and hiking extensively with her family and would love to pass these skills on to young children. While these types of kindergartens are more prevalent in Scandinavia, there are a few in the United States. Halperin even has an idea to found one that is dual language-based, as she will have her bilingual endorsement upon graduation.

Both of these #EdBirds have displayed a high level of excellence while students at Illinois State, and are worthy recipients of this honor. There is no doubt they will go on to become amazing educators and represent the college well.