State Farm Scholar Maddie Williams '19

Remarks from State Farm Scholars Luncheon

Feb. 14, 2018

Hello everyone! My name is Maddie Williams, and first of all I want to start by saying how thankful and honored I am to be up here speaking on behalf of all my fellow classmates and State Farm scholars. Without all the generosity and dedication from State Farm, none of us would be where we are today in our education, so with that being said, we truly thank you and appreciate you for this opportunity.

My path to Wesleyan has been second to none. I am a junior, but I actually have not spent all 3 years Illinois Wesleyan. Conveniently enough, when I was a junior in High School, I took a visit here, stayed overnight, and genuinely loved the school. It was one of those decisions, where neither choice seemed to be “wrong” at the time. After a long and hard time thinking, I ended up choosing a different school. By me standing here today you can see how well that turned out. I spent a year and a half of my education at a school where I was unhappy, and had some pretty dark days. When I finally had had enough and made the decision to transfer schools, Illinois Wesleyan was not just my top, but my only choice. Thanks to some very awesome people, who went above and beyond for me, some of them sitting in this very room, I was able to transfer schools to a school that would become my second home... literally. I live a whole 10 minutes away.

So, when making the decision to come to Illinois Wesleyan, it started out as the clear and obvious decision. However, I had previously been on an athletics scholarship at my other school. Now, the question was, how am I going to afford to pay for my education? Do I apply for loans? Do I rely on financial aid alone? Do I see what scholarships I qualify for? The rush to figure it out seemed impossible at the time. But, as you can imagine, thanks to the remarkable group of people at State Farm, I, along with many other students, get to go to a school that has been a part of the best days of my life.

To give you a glimpse of just how much these generous donations have impacted me, I will tell you all something that has been a true indicator of my experience. Being at a school previously that had made me so unhappy, every day seemed like a bad day. The very week that I got to Illinois Wesleyan, I can tell you assuredly that a smile did not, and has not, left my face. I expressed my feelings through social media, obviously, because that’s what people my age do, and I tweeted “Since coming to IWU, I have not had a single bad day.” I had so many people from Illinois Wesleyan reach out to me, and the circulation of this tweet was so much bigger than I had imagined. A couple of months later, my tweet had resurfaced again, and I can tell you that, over one year later, this still rings true. I can honestly say that I have not had a bad day at Illinois Wesleyan. Bad moments, sure. Times of frustration and stress, maybe. But, thanks to the family, the support, and the commitment that comes from the staff, and the overall campus community, these bad times seem so miniscule. State Farm reflects these values of family, and support, and commitment, and that is made clear by all of you sitting here today. These scholarships support empowered, clever, professional, diverse, talented, driven people, and I couldn’t be more proud to thank you on all of our behalf.

While I know that not everyone has had the experience I have had, I am here to tell you, some of you my fellow peers, that the school we are so blessed to attend, is among the best. Yes, I am a marketing major, and yes I used to give tours to prospective students so it might seem like I’m trained in this kind of stuff, but no, this is not a marketing campaign. I am not standing here in front of you, pretending that you are a group of High School seniors, trying to find your place in this world. I am not trying to convince you of all the opportunities that we have here, all of the positives that could come from an education here, or why you should attend this school, because hopefully, you being here today means that you already know. I truly, from the bottom of my heart, believe that this University is the best place to be, and it absolutely would not be possible without our State Farm family. From here on out, I encourage you to attempt to have no bad days for the rest of your time at Illinois Wesleyan – State Farm – wherever you are. This is an active effort, it is a conscious choice, just as all these State Farm representatives have put forth an active effort, and have made conscious choices, to further our experience and education. For that, we are forever thankful.

The State Farm scholarships that are provided to us are so meaningful. Your financial encouragement is what allows us to have an exceptional education, an exceptional experience, and an exceptional journey with an incredible story to tell. With this support, we can now go into the world with open arms, ready to support others just as State Farm has supported all of us. I hope that one day, you all share your Illinois Wesleyan story, and that it touches the lives of others. On behalf of everyone here today, I want to thank State Farm for devoting so much to our education, our lives, and for contributing to every single individual Illinois Wesleyan story for years to come.