Monique Clayborne
University of St. Francis
McGraw Foundation Emergency Financial Aid

Monique Clayborne will soon graduate with a degree in social work from the University of St. Francis (USF) in Joliet. Describing herself as a person “with a heart for people,” Clayborne says her social work major has led to a specific interest in child welfare. “I’m very interested in behavioral health. Upon graduation, I could see myself working and advocating for children in social services,” she says.

From Waukegan, Illinois, Clayborne chose USF because of its small classes and opportunities to learn from experts. “It’s kind of intimate, which was actually the thing I needed,” she says. “I know many people that have graduated from USF, and they just spoke so highly of it.” Plus, the university’s social work program was well regarded, Clayborne says.

Clayborne resides on campus among students who are mostly younger than she. “I have a son that’s some of these kids’ ages,” she says. “The great thing is that I see them as my equal. We’re in class together. They’re my classmates. They’re my friends. We learn together. We hang out together. We talk outside of class. I’ve developed genuine relationships with people younger than me, different ethnicities, so it’s actually been really great.”

Through ACI, Clayborne was awarded a scholarship from McGraw Foundation Emergency Financial Aid, one of a few sources of financial aid on which she depends. “It was just a little bit that I needed, and that’s what ACI provided. So, I’m very grateful for that. This is a tremendous blessing and another opportunity for me.”

Clayborne is active in the Social Work Club where she is the National Association of Social Workers’ liaison. She is also active in Phi Alpha, the social work honor society and the Augustus Tolton Honor Society, for high achieving African American students. She is also an intern at the Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Will County, which helps abused and neglected children find safe and secure homes.

Thomas “T.J.” Whitfield
Wheaton College
ACI General Scholarship

Thomas “T.J.” Whitfield visited his sister at Wheaton College and realized he, too, could see himself as a student at the Wheaton, Illinois college. Whitfield is now communication/media studies major at Wheaton, with a minor in graphic design and photography. The Tinley Park, Illinois, junior was originally a computer science major, but soon realized that his real interest was in communication. “I really felt like I fit in well into the major, into the department and the career fields,” he says, adding he’s specifically interested in marketing and advertising.

Through and internship with the Community School of the Arts at Wheaton, Whitfield helped promote the school’s music events through poster design and other advertising and marketing responsibilities. “I love the business side of communication and learning about these different elements, but I really love the artistic side that graphic design can offer to me,” he says.

An ACI General Scholarship has helped Whitfield with tuition expenses at Wheaton College. “Having the scholarship and learning about it has been such a blessing,” Whitfield says. “There are so many times in the past when I haven’t been able to register for classes because tuition hasn’t been paid yet or tuition hasn’t been paid in full yet. For me as a student tying to be here to learn, that’s on my mind. I will have the opportunity to continue on and graduate, something my parents didn’t have the opportunity to do.” Whitfield is also grateful for donors who make the scholarships possible. “Now it’s my turn. Now I have to give to the next generation because the last generation gave to me,” he says.

At Wheaton College, Whitfield is part the tae-kwon-do club and works in the Office of Multicultural Development.  He is also a student ambassador for the Wheaton Fund, responsible for being a “bridge” between students and college donors.

“Being at Wheaton has shaped me in so many ways,” he says. “It’s shaped my mentally, it’s shaped me physically. It’s shaped me emotionally. Being a Christian school, it has shaped me in my faith. Just being here has really been a benefit to me and so many other students, that I’m just so grateful for the time that I’ve had here.”

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