ACI General Scholarship
Temilolu Slack is survivor, who is focused now on a graduate degree in clinical psychology from Benedictine University, Lisle, Illinois. Slack, a first-generation student from Willowbrook, Illinois, has survived domestic abuse, serious health problems and surgeries related to asthma/COPD, and the COVID-19 pandemic. One days, she hopes to earn a doctoral degree.
Slack began her college career in 1991, attending colleges in the Chicago area before entering the College of DuPage. There, she took part in a transfer program that led her to Benedictine University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership in 2021. She chose Benedictine because it was close to where she lived, it offered her a chance to work toward a master’s degree, and she liked the school’s different academic programs.
“I started in January of 2020, and then I had some health challenges. I had four surgeries in 2020, but I didn’t let that stop me. But in addition to all of that, the pandemic hit,” she said. Slack had completed coursework in business- and economics-related topics at the College of DuPage, and she had worked in a call center at AT&T. Her Benedictine advisor recommended she study organizational leadership for her undergraduate degree.
“That’s how I studied organizational leadership, which I feel will ‘marry’ into clinical psychology,” Slack said. “My goal is to start my own not-for-profit. I want to be able to help communities because I came from a domestic violence-marriage situation. I want to be able to help single mothers that have been abused and fathers that are struggling, because men get abused as well.”
To earn her bachelor’s degree at Benedictine, Slack needed financial help in her senior year. She wasn’t eligible for more grants and loans, she said. “So, I just started writing my story as I’m applying for the scholarships. I didn’t know if I was going to be approved for anything. I just decided to let the system tell me if I get approved or not,” Slack said. To her surprise, the financial aid staff at Benedictine, impressed by her story and determination to earn a degree, decided she would be awarded an ACI General Scholarship. The funds were enough to fill a substantial financial gap, enabling her to finish her bachelor’s degree..
“I just was in tears,” Slack said. “Tears were rolling down my face. I just couldn’t believe it. I was like, ‘Is this real? Am I dreaming? I just couldn’t believe it. If not for this award, I would not be here right now, in my master’s program.”
To donors who make ACI scholarships possible, Slack is grateful. “Thank you for believing and investing in the future of others to be able to make a difference in someone else’s life. Thank you for giving us that opportunity,” she said. One day, she wants to be an ACI donor, helping students in the same way she was helped.
Slack is unable to work because of her health, however, she is active in her church, Avenue Christian Church, Clarendon Hills Illinois, where she has volunteered as a member of the security team and welcome committees.
Peer Mentoring Program
Kenyahn May grew up reading about criminal cases and watching crime shows on television. That interest led him to major in criminal justice and sociology at Millikin University. Now a sophomore, May’s interests have grown. And, in his first year in college, he got some helpful guidance as a mentee in ACI’s Peer Mentoring Program at Millikin, he says.
May, of East St. Louis, Illinois, chose to attend Millikin, in part, because he had high-school friends who went there. Plus he spoke with professors teaching criminal justice and believed he could do well at a small college such as Millikin. When he started his college career, May’s long-term goal was to become a lawyer, like family members who are either lawyers or work in the legal profession. “But since I have been exposed to more here at school, I’ve also thought about criminal investigating,” May says. He has discussed with professors possibilities such as attending law school, becoming a lawyer and perhaps working as a criminal investigator for an agency such as the FBI, he says.
May joined the Peer Mentoring Program at Millikin in his freshman year. His mentor was Jaylen Williams, someone he knew in high school. May’s mentor was especially helpful following the death of his grandfather, Walter Jefferson. “He was the only male influence I ever had in my life. I would say I struggled a lot with his death last year,” said May, who says his mother and grandmother are important family figures in his life. He also says his mentor helped connect him to a counselor to help with anxiety issues.
“I don’t think I’d be in the same position right now if I didn’t join this program or just have mentors in general,” May says. “Even before I knew I was going to be in the program, (Jaylen) was already mentoring me in a way. He gave me his cell phone number, Whenever I needed something, he was there. Just to even point in the right direction, those type of things really helped.”
May is especially grateful for donors who make possible the Peer Mentoring Program on 12 ACI-affiliated campuses, including Millikin. “Everybody needs help sometimes, you know? The good you put in something or someone will always come back to you. So I feel like doing good for people goes a long way. You never really know how far it will go,” he says.
May is a dormitory resident assistant and Residential Assistant Peer Mentor at Millikin. He is a defensive back on the university’s football team, member of the Black Student Union and secretary of the Social Action Club, which organizes social activities and events on campus.