Record Crowd Celebrates Life-Changing Scholarships
Oct. 13, 2017
BLOOMINGTON, Ill.—Elijio “Isaiah” McBride Rosales is the first in his family to have ever graduated
high school. In 2019, Rosales will achieve another academic milestone when he earns
a bachelor’s degree from Illinois Wesleyan University.
“As a first-generation college student, I thank you from the bottom of my heart,”
Rosales told a record 268 attendees at Illinois Wesleyan’s Scholarship Benefactor
Dinner Oct. 12. “The financial assistance you provide gives students like me the opportunity
for a higher education.”
Rosales was one of 97 students who joined 146 benefactors to celebrate 301 scholarships
– including 10 new scholarships – awarded to 339 recipients. A record 82 alumni attended
the 21st annual event.
“We are proudly a place that transforms lives,” Illinois Wesleyan President Eric Jensen
told the crowd. “We are among the very best in the country at taking students from
middle class and lower incomes, and elevating them to the top of the income distribution.
That’s socially transformative. That’s changing people’s lives in a way that makes
me deeply proud. We couldn’t do this without the support of each of you.”
Rosales said traveling more than 2,000 miles away from his home in Aloha, Oregon to
pursue a music theatre degree initially seemed “impossible.” However, after visiting
Illinois Wesleyan and realizing his financial assistance options, Rosales could envision
his dream become reality.
“Because of you, I’m privileged to see my future as a world of opportunity and open
doors. I’m able to pursue what I’m passionate about,” Rosales said. “Next year, when
I receive my degree, I’m confident I’ll have the tools I need and the strong connections
necessary to take on the world.”
More than 90 percent of Illinois Wesleyan students receive some form of financial
assistance from the University. Six out of 10 students receive funds on the basis
of financial need, meaning they could not attend the University without assistance.
Scholarships created by alumni and friends meet part of the needed funds for those
students, allowing Illinois Wesleyan to provide $36 million in annual financial aid.
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.