Trejuan Hicks ’21 has learned to be resilient.

In 2004, his family was among those impacted by Hurricane Katrina. They relocated from New Orleans to a low-income neighborhood in Chicago. From there, the family moved again. Adapting to the changing environments made Hicks stronger. 

“I’m blessed by my life experiences, as my upbringing contributed to the well-rounded and resilient man I am today,” said the recent finance graduate.

Hicks transferred to Illinois State from Elgin Community College. Before transferring, he worked hard to save money for his daily expenses. Hicks also pursued every scholarship available, but his GPA at the time excluded him from applying for some.

“I originally felt bitter about not receiving an award after a tough summer of school and work,” he said. “It fueled me to work harder for the fall semester and try again.”

The work paid off when he received support from the Willie Brown Endowed Scholarship Fund. Hicks said the scholarship bought him more time to focus on thriving during his senior year.

“It made my mother proud that I’ve taken initiative on utilizing my resources,” he said.

Hicks feels a connection to founding donor Willie Brown M.S. ’73 and other recipients.

Brown retired as executive vice president of State Farm Insurance Companies in 2009. An active leader in the Bloomington-Normal community, he established the scholarship to support nontraditional College of Business students committed to civic engagement.

Hicks is now focused on becoming his best. After graduation, he relocated again, this time to Orange County in California. He works for Consolidated Analytics, a mortgage and real estate company. 

The scholarship inspires Hicks to look for opportunities to give back. “I will keep going and one day be in a position to give back to those deserving of opportunity as the Willie Brown Endowed Scholarship Fund has done for me,” he said.