BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— Twenty newly created scholarships were announced and 140 benefactors
were celebrated Sept. 29 during Illinois Wesleyan University’s annual Benefactors
In all, more than 260 people – the largest crowd ever – attended the event, which
brings together, often for the first time, named scholarship recipients and the donors
who made the scholarships possible. Monetary support from alumni and friends allows
Illinois Wesleyan to provide $36 million in financial aid each year to more than nine
out of 10 Illinois Wesleyan students.
One of those students is Marissa Cozzi ’17, an economics major from Norridge, Ill.
Speaking on behalf of student scholarship recipients, Cozzi told the audience Illinois
Wesleyan didn’t seem possible for her when she was looking at colleges. “My parents
didn’t go to college,” she said. “I didn’t grow up watching cable TV, and there weren’t
many ‘family vacations’ in my memory box.”
Because her parents helped and encouraged her, however, and because of the generosity
of donors, in May she’ll be the first in her family to receive an undergraduate degree.
“That just wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of you amazing donors,” she
said. “Thank you for helping us pursue our passions. Thank you for encouraging our
dreams to become realities, and thank you for putting faith in our abilities.”
President Eric Jensen and his wife, Elizabeth, established one of the newly created
scholarships. “It’s fun to play two roles, to be one of you donors, and also to represent
the institution in thanking you donors for everything you’ve done,” he said.
Jensen provided an update of the continuing need for financial support for students.
He said 21 percent of the students who began their Illinois Wesleyan careers in August
are Pell Grant eligible. “Most Pell money goes to families that earn than less than
$20,000 per year, so 21 percent of our class comes from families with very limited
abilities to support them,” said Jensen. “That means that people like you are making
a difference for them.” He also noted 24 percent of the class is eligible for MAP
(Monetary Award Program), a grant program funded by the State of Illinois providing
payment toward college tuition at Illinois institutions that participate in the program.
The tradition of named scholarships at Illinois Wesleyan dates back to 1893, when
the Board of Trustees decided it was important to recognize supporters by naming scholarships
in honor of those contributing $1,000 or more. In 1895, named scholarships honoring
William W. Anderson of Taylorville and Martha Elzina Cameron of Greenfield were the
first recorded in Illinois Wesleyan history.
“That’s a long tradition of student support,” Jensen said. He called attention to
the newly created scholarships announced at the Benefactors Dinner, and noted that
in nearly every case, a benefactor wanted to “pay it forward” by making a difference
in someone else’s life.
To learn more about providing support for Illinois Wesleyan, contact the Advancement
Office at 1-800-689-9743 or email@example.com.