Yasmin Lara
Olivet Nazarene University
ACI General Scholarship

Yasmin Lara chose Olivet Nazarene University because it was a small college where she would get to know many students. “I wasn’t just a number,” she says. From Antioch, Illinois, Lara, now a senior, had considered a career as a physician. But she says Dr. Denise Anderson, a professor of social work, encouraged her to follow Jesus’ example and her heart, and it led to an interest in social work, now her major.

“I want to work with at-risk youth, specifically in the city of Chicago. That’s where I feel called to be eventually. Through a mission trip, I was able to go to Englewood, and that’s where I found my passion for at-risk youth in the city,” Lara says. For her, a key area of service is combatting human trafficking. She explained that after she completes her bachelor’s degree, she may attend graduate school to earn a master’s degree in social work.

Staying in school has not been easy for Lara. In 2018, her mother had some serious medical problems, which she shared with a financial advisor on campus. “She had a brain aneurysm and surgery, and currently she is not working,” Lara says. “My Dad is the only one working. That’s makes us very financially unstable.” Lara is the oldest of three children. Her father owns a commercial painting company.

The ACI Scholarship was a big help, enabling her to continue her college education. “With my Mom’s unstable medical condition, just hearing that was a big relief for my parents, but for me as well,” Lara says. “Finding those resources helped me through my journey. It’s been so important because I am able to not only teach others but show them and be an inspiration.” Lara has been able to get other sources of financial aid to remain in school.

In addition, she is an intern for Center for Hope, a social service agency, where she is learning about running nonprofits, she says. She was part of the university’s Associate Student Council, representing her class. Lara was also a first-generation student secretary/advisor. She’s been involved with Upper Room, a ministry that supports spiritual formation of Christians, and volunteers with a local Big Sister-Little Sister Program.

Ellie Anglin
Illinois College
Paccar Foundation Scholarship

Ellie Anglin originally came to Illinois College in Jacksonville on a music scholarship. From Belleville, Illinois, Anglin says it was the “close-knit vibe” on the campus that led her to choose Illinois College. Now a junior, Anglin eventually focused her studies on two personal interests: history and secondary education. “I have a lot of family members who are teachers,” she says. “I look up to them.” Anglin hopes to teach 7th and 8th grade students. A second interest is history, she says, adding that she likes documentaries, visiting museums and taking history classes.

Ideally, she’d like to teach history to secondary school students, and possibly move later into a different occupation. “I want to teach for a few years,” Anglin says, “then I want to go get my master’s and be a principal of a school.” In fact, ACI member colleges and universities outpace the state’s largest higher education institutions in the number of education majors who earn degrees.

Helping Anglin achieve her dreams is a Paccar Foundation Scholarship awarded to her through ACI.

It happened after her father was hospitalized with pneumonia. Further testing showed he was in kidney failure and unable to work, leaving Anglin’s mother as the sole source of financial support for the family. Money got tight for the family, which includes Anglin, a sister who was also in college and a younger brother in high school.

The financial aid director at Illinois College, Becky Birdsell, contacted her about funding from ACI. “When she contacted me, it was the emergency relief scholarship. It kind of caught me by surprise because I hadn’t really told anybody about the situation that I had, except for a couple of professors. So, when I got it, I was like, ‘this is good. This is definitely going to help,'” Anglin says. “That’s how I paid for tuition. So, it was a huge help. A huge help.”

Anglin says she appreciates those who donate funds to make scholarships like hers possible. “You never know the students’ situation. By donating you’re going to help maybe one, two or three students stay in school, come out with a degree and go into the workforce,” she says.

In addition to her studies, Anglin is involved in Project LEAD, “Leaders in Education Advocating for Diversity,” an Illinois College program that helps students from minority populations with an interest in K through 12 schools. She also works at the YMCA in Jacksonville in an after-school program, helping students with homework while gaining experience for a teaching career.


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