David DeMarini ’72, M.S. ’74, Ph.D. ’80, enjoyed a 36-year career as a genetic toxicologist for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Decades earlier, he was a high school student competing in an annual State of Illinois forensics competition. His win in comedy reading while on Illinois State’s campus inspired his Redbird journey.

DeMarini was among the first cohorts to live at Illinois State’s International House (I-House), an experience that changed his life. “I-House prepared me to navigate the world’s cultures and people in all its diversity and complexity,” said DeMarini. “By the time I left ISU, I knew how to say ‘Good morning,’ ‘Good evening,’ and ‘Thank you’ in a dozen languages. I had gained an appreciation for almost every imaginable cuisine!”

During DeMarini’s five years at Illinois State as a graduate student in the Department of Biological Sciences, he was mentored by Professor Emeritus Dr. Herman Brockman. “Dr. Brockman prepared me by training and networking for an international scientific career,” said DeMarini, a recipient of ISU’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

In 2020, DeMarini committed $600,000 from his estate toward emergency funding for future students. In May, he increased his commitment by $200,000.

“The small bumps in the road that students encounter can be major obstacles to doing well in class or even graduating,” he said. “I hope that this fund will smooth out the road for those students who experience a rocky ride now and then while at ISU.”

DeMarini also sees his philanthropy as a duty to help future students start their post-college lives on the right foot. “Students often incur enormous amounts of student debt, which prevents young people from moving on in their lives, owning a home, getting married, and contributing fully to society—and many not being able to seek higher education at all,” said DeMarini.

“ISU helped me to have a remarkable career,” he said, “and made it possible for me now to provide support for others so that they may have a chance at the same good fortune that I have had.”

Your legacy matters. To learn more about naming Illinois State University as a beneficiary in your will, visit Giveto.IllinoisState.edu.