Prior to commencement, four Illinois State University seniors reflected on the importance of scholarships, donor support, their own personal success, post-graduation plans, and how they would describe the impact of private support in one word.

Julie Kolar

Julie Kolar is a senior marketing major with a sequence in integrated marketing communications and a psychology minor. Kolar has maintained a 4.0 GPA during her time at ISU and is a two-year captain of the Redbird swimming and diving team. She is also vice president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council and vice president of marketing for Delta Sigma Pi.

Shania Vasquez

Shania Vasquez is a senior majoring in psychology and minoring in sociology and philosophy. Vasquez is part of ISU’s Honors Program and is a member of Psi Chi and SPA at ISU. In addition to her studies, Vasquez streams games on Twitch and has an interest in art and photography.

Isaac Brockman

Isaac Brockman, a senior studying agribusiness, is involved in ISU’s Honors Program, Undergraduate Student Advisory Council, the College of Applied Science and Technology Council, Agriculture Ambassadors, National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA), and the Collegiate Farm Bureau chapter at ISU. Additionally, Brockman engages in community service and lives by the phrase, “Optimism is as valuable as good weather, family and friends are everything, and no matter the day, there is always something to work on.”

Priya Shukla

Priya Shukla is a senior double majoring in economics and business administration. Shukla has an interest in how policy decisions are made in economics in times of a recession or inflation and how the monetary system works. She speaks three languages, English, Gujarati, and Hindi, and has started up a registered student organization on campus.

Read the soon-to-be-graduate’s answers to the questions posed to them below and learn more how Illinois State has helped them achieve success:

Q: How has your scholarship/donor support opened doors for you?

Kolar: The scholarships I have received at Illinois State have alleviated current financial stress and will continue to be a relief in the future. As a student-athlete, I didn’t have much time to work during the school year to provide an income for myself. Knowing that someone else helped me through this pivotal time in my life is an incredible blessing. I hope to give back to another student down the line who was in need like I was.

Vasquez: I wasn’t sure that I would be able to attend college because of financial concerns. Thanks to these compassionate donors, I was able to graduate this year, apply for graduate school, and become an active member of my community without bearing the burden of financial distress. It is generous people like them that support the future scholars of our world and encourage those afraid of the cost to attend colleges and universities to apply and strive for their dreams.

Brockman: Generous scholarship sponsors and donors at Illinois State have made a world a difference for me. In fact, that generosity was a key reason I chose to attend Illinois State University. These funds have cut down on the costs associated with earning a degree. This has allowed me to have more security as I become a first-generation college graduate. This support has not just been financial. I have received encouragement and career direction through this generosity as well. I am thankful for all the generous donors!

Shukla: Receiving a scholarship has opened several doors for me. It has allowed me to focus on my education and work toward my goals without having to worry too much about my finances. Donor support meant a lot to me especially during the pandemic when everything was closed, and I could not work. Rather than worrying about paying my bills, I could focus on my education. Donor support is really like a lifeline to me, and I am so grateful for that.

Q: What are you most proud of about yourself regarding your ISU experience?

Kolar: I am proud of how I got involved in so many things on campus. Being a student-athlete alone was a challenging commitment, but taking on several leadership roles required me to go outside of my comfort zone. I never saw myself doing any of that when I came into college. The Julie that came to Illinois State in 2018 would be abundantly proud of the Julie who is graduating this year.

Vasquez: I am most proud of graduating with honors, summa cum laude. The accredited professors, faculty-to-student ratio, exceptional curriculum, funding, and involvement opportunities at Illinois State University have made a very important contribution to my education. These are just a few of the things that make me proud to be a Redbird.

Brockman: Regarding my ISU experience, I am most proud of the fact that I will be leaving registered student organizations (RSOs) and aspects of my department better than they existed when I started my journey at Illinois State. This was possible only through creative thinking and building strong teams. While this was a struggle enough by itself, the COVID-19 pandemic created additional challenges. I am a firm believer that RSOs are a key aspect to the ISU experience, so I am proud to have had a positive impact on that.

Shukla: The thing I am most proud about myself regarding my ISU experience is making connections with people and professors alike. I also helped start an RSO on campus called Undergraduate Women in Economics. The goal of the organization is to increase representation of women in economics, which closely aligns with my passion for the field.

Q: What are your post-graduation plans?

Kolar: I am still searching for marketing or human resources jobs in Chicago, Dallas, or Florida.

Vasquez: Over the summer, I will be taking the last two classes I need to complete my Human Resource Management Certificate. I also applied to the Illinois State University Clinical Counseling Master’s Program. If accepted, I will start in the fall of 2022.

Brockman: After graduation, I will begin a career in the agriculture industry, as a grain originator in North-Central Illinois. I will be working within the FS System, which is a cooperative system based in Bloomington. This organization is centered on the long-term success of farmers. I also intend to be an active member of my family’s corn and soybean farm. I will continue involvement with Illinois Farm Bureau, which will allow me to advocate for the agriculture industry. I intend to be an active community member back home as well, increasing my dedication to local programs.

Shukla: I am going to be working as a financial advisor for JP Morgan Chase after I graduate. I eventually plan on getting my MBA degree as well.

Q: In one word, what does scholarship/donor support mean to you?

Kolar: Blessing

Vasquez: Solace

Brockman: Opportunity

Shukla: Lifeline

Donor support changes lives. To learn more about creating a scholarship at Illinois State University, contact a development professional, or visit