Semaj Robinson
Lewis University
SmithGroup Scholarship

Semaj Robinson started college in 2016 at Chicago university. Costs were high, and she began searching for another school to study nursing. She read good reviews about the nursing program at Lewis University in Romeoville. Plus, ACI schools graduate twice as many nursing students as other large Illinois higher ed programs combined. “After an initial conversation, I knew that this was the place I wanted to go to because they were willing to help me by any means necessary,” Robinson says.

Now a senior, Robinson, who is from Markham, Illinois, expects to graduate from Lewis in May 2020. She plans a career in pediatrics, working with young children. “My heart kind of lies in being able to take care of them when they’re the most vulnerable,” Robinson says. “That’s what I plan on doing, just working in a hospital and working in primarily a low-income community because that’s where I came from.”

At a young age, Robinson says she developed a passion to help people and became interested in nursing. “I lost my grandfather to cancer, and I was there for the whole process of grieving and everything. That made me feel like I wanted to do something about it,” she says. Robinson also carries a Spanish minor because she is interested in languages and culture. Plus, she was able to use her knowledge of Spanish in a nursing clinical experience, communicating with a patient whose primary language was Spanish. “That correlated with the whole reason why I wanted to be a nurse,” she says. “Nursing is more than about making people feel better when they’re sick. It’s about treating the whole person.”

Robinson is the recipient of a SmithGroup Scholarship through ACI. “Without the scholarship, I don’t know if I would be here,” she says. “I’m just very grateful for this. I’ve had a lot of transitions in my life, and this scholarship gave me the chance to be able to chase my dreams and to continue my journey. One donation can make the difference – all the difference to one person. You can change one person’s life.”

Robinson has made the most of her college experience, leading and participating in a number of campus organizations. She is president of the Black Student Union, sharing awareness of African American culture. She works in the Office of Student Activities on events such as Welcome Week for new and returning students. Robinson has worked in student orientation, admissions, the ministry department, and volunteers in the Office of Multicultural Student Services. She is also a mentor in “Flyers Rise” for multicultural students.

Bethany Anderson
Olivet Nazarene University
ACI General Scholarship

One of the reasons that Bethany Anderson chose to attend Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois, is that it had a marching band. “I thought that was great,” she says. Anderson explained she was home-schooled, and it was in high school that she was finally able to participate in a musical ensemble and play the flute. Her favorite ensemble was marching band, and she wanted to continue in college, she says. Another reason that Anderson chose Olivet Nazarene is the school offered her major, social work, and the university offered a Christian education with a biblical worldview, she says.

Now a junior, Anderson thought she’d like to be an elementary school teacher, but when she read a description of social work, she realized it fit her interests better. “You’re able to help people in so many different ways,” she says. “For example, you could work in a hospital, you could work in a school, you could work in a police department, you could work in the mission field, you could work with the elderly, you could work with children, you could work with immigrants and refugees, so that really interested me – the wide array of opportunities.”

After college, Anderson sees herself working in emergency management or possibly working abroad with an emergency relief organization. “I would really love to work in the mission field. Part of social work is being so hopeful that you can bring hope to people who are in low places in their life,” she says.

Anderson, who is from Crystal Lake, Illinois, is grateful to be an ACI General Scholarship recipient. “Hearing that I had gotten that scholarship meant so much to me, because it meant that someone had seen me and seen my life and seen my story,” she says. “Getting the scholarship has made such a difference for me because it has allowed me to continue my education here at Olivet.”

In addition to marching band and her studies, Anderson works with Food Recovery Network, a national organization that recovers food on campuses after the food service provider has finished serving for the day. Network volunteers pack up the food and send it to the Salvation Army. She is active with her church, Kankakee First Church, and works on campus in the advancement operations office. Anderson is also part of Diakonia, a social work club at Olivet Nazarene, and has worked with Save Our Streets, which provides support to people who are homeless.

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