The Future Alumni Leader Award was established in 1998 to give campus divisions, academic departments, and schools the opportunity to recognize a student for outstanding service to Illinois State University and who demonstrates potential as an alumni leader. An award is given to an outstanding graduate and undergraduate student. This year’s Future Alumni Leader graduate student is Aaliyah Gladney ’20, and the undergraduate recipient is Yarisheia Tiggs.
Gladney, who received her bachelor’s in communication sciences and disorders, is a first-year doctoral student working toward her doctor of audiology and is expected to graduate in May 2023.
“It is an honor,” Gladney said when asked what it means to be selected for the award. “It means a lot because it shows that my involvement throughout college has impacted people in ways that I did not realize.”
Currently, Gladney is involved in the Student Academy of Audiology, the national student organization of the American Academy of Audiology. In addition, she has given back to the Bloomington-Normal community by working as a youth volleyball coach. She’s also been a preview guide, part of the Honors Program, and the Red Tassel Mortar Board.
“I have given back to ISU mainly during my time as an orientation leader,” Gladney said. “I shared the positive experiences I’ve had with incoming students and their family members.”
After her time at ISU, Gladney plans to be an active alumna by making gifts to help support students, as she was a recipient of many scholarships throughout her undergraduate experience.
Tiggs, a senior psychology major with a minor in athletic coaching, is graduating in May.
“To be given this honor during a pandemic means I was able to demonstrate true leadership,” she said. “I was able to be there for my peers and help them reach their goals throughout the school year.”
An active member of the community, Tiggs has given back to Bloomington-Normal by hosting educational and social events with many different organizations. In addition, she is also a mentor helping freshmen transition from high school to college.
“My most important work is through community service,” Tiggs said. “I collect donations for the YMCA, pick up trash on campus, and I volunteer at the Midwest Food Bank.”
Tiggs has served as vice president of the Black Student Union, president for the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs: Women of Enlightenment chapter, and is the founding and serving president of the Black Student Psychology Association.
Tiggs intends to attend graduate school at Illinois State in the fall and said the experience gained in four years at the University has prepared her. When she finishes her education here, she also plans to be an active alumna.
“I plan to be committed by staying involved and letting my voice be heard on topics that I’m passionate about,” said Tiggs. “I plan to help undergraduate students who need it within the different communities and families I was a part of at ISU.”
What happens outside of the classroom is just as important as what happens inside the classroom. The Future Alumni Leader Award is based on the premise that students like Gladney and Tiggs, who are highly involved in service efforts, will continue their commitment to service after graduation and will become alumni leaders.
Congratulations to Gladney and Tiggs on being the 2021 recipients of the Future Alumni Leader Awards!