Brandon Skovronski
Monmouth College
ACI General Scholarship

Brandon Skovronski transferred to Monmouth College, Monmouth, Illinois this past year, because he knew the school had a great reputation and had a chance to play on the school’s baseball team. Unfortunately, Skovronski had some health issues that prevented him from playing this past school year, but he hopes to play again in the future.

From nearby Aledo, Illinois, Skovronski says he was originally a biology major. He had hopes of being a pediatrician but changed his mind. Now a kinesiology major, Skovronski is focused on becoming a physical therapist and hopes to attend PT school after Monmouth College.

“I love sports medicine, so I would want to be a sports medicine-physical therapy person,” he says. “Probably more like an athletic trainer or a team doctor.” Skovronski knows people who are physical therapists working in sports medicine, plus he’s experienced physical therapy firsthand through his sports career. “Being exposed to it a lot makes me understand why I like it so much and why I want to keep going forward with it,” he says.

Skovronski is the recipient of an ACI General Scholarship, which helps him and his family meet tuition costs. His father pays tuition and other expenses. “Anything I need moneywise, food, car expenditures things like that, fall on him,’ says Skovronski. “With the medical issues we’ve had, we’ve had bills to pay and school bills were racking up. There was a point where I was almost actually financially dismissed from the institution, because we didn’t have the funds.”

The ACI scholarship was significant, he says. “When I was told about the scholarship, it actually made the difference. Without the scholarship, we still wouldn’t have it paid off as much as we do. So, the scholarship actually saved me. It’s honestly changed my life. I appreciate it.”

Despite not being able to play baseball this year, Skovronski did other things to support the Monmouth baseball program. At home, he volunteers his time at the YMCA as a softball coach and umpire. “I volunteer whenever I can honestly. If there’s a volunteer opportunity, I usually take advantage of that,” he adds.

TaCoya Harris
North Central College
ACI Peer Mentoring Program

TaCoya Harris, a freshman at North Central College, is studying computer science with a minor in philosophy. “I’m studying computer science because I’d like to be a software developer. I really like coding and testing out software, and creating it,” she says. “It’s a powerful skill to have.”

Harris, from Peoria, Illinois, learned about North Central through her tennis coach. She had played tennis during her high school years. Once she visited North Central, Harris says she knew it was the right size and atmosphere for her. A first-generation college student, Harris is the first in her family in a couple of generations to attend a four-year college. A recent recipient of a significant ROTC four-year scholarship, she hopes to be an example to younger family members who will follow in her footsteps.

Harris comes from a single-mother household, and her mom didn’t go to college. As a result, Harris was on her own to learn about the college experience. A big help, she says, is the ACI Peer Mentoring Program at North Central College, where Harris is a mentee. “It’s programs like this that really comfort you to know that they’re available to you, that there’s people on campus, upperclassmen, who you can go to and ask for help,” she says. “They’ve been through their first years as first generation students, and they know.” For example, Harris says her peer mentor helped her understand the college’s work-study program and its benefits. And, she says she has the phone numbers of other North Central peer mentors and can call when she needs some help.

“It makes me feel like I belong,” Harris says of the Peer Mentoring Program and other participants. “Even though we’re a small percentage together, we know each other, and we share similar experiences on campus. I am grateful to be here, and it’s nice to have a group of people who share the same struggles and issues, and we can talk about it.”

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