Alison Humphrey
Quincy University
A. Montgomery Ward Foundation Scholarship

Ali Humphrey considered some colleges in Central Missouri before she chose Quincy University. From nearby Payson, Illinois, Humphrey liked that Quincy was near her home and that it had a quality program in elementary education, her major. “The education program here is amazing,” says Humphrey, a junior.

“I’ve always loved working with kids,” she says. “I remember being younger and making my siblings play school with me. I was always the teacher. But, I’ve actually had a lot of jobs working with children. I used to work in an after-school program here in Quincy. I worked at a summer playground with kids, too.” Her goal is to work as a classroom teacher, preferably teaching students ranging from first to fourth grade.

Among her school activities, Humphrey was part of the university’s cheerleading program. She cheered during her sophomore year but decided against it this year because of the time involved and the challenge of driving back to Payson late at night. “It was really hard because I did get a pretty hefty scholarship from cheering, ” she says. “I was so worried about not being able to recover the funds from that scholarship.”

In her case, getting the A. Montgomery Ward Foundation Scholarship through ACI was timely, Humphrey says. “I would say that I’m living proof that without this scholarship, I would not be here today. I think that helps tremendously,” she says.

Humphrey has two younger siblings, a brother and a sister, who will head to college next year. To finance her education, Humphrey says she pulls together funding from many sources, including ACI. She also works as bank teller at a Quincy bank.

Ayana Blair
Illinois Wesleyan University
ACI General Scholarship

Ayana Blair hopes one day to be a physician. With that in mind, she chose to attend Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, in part, because the financial aid package was attractive, and also because of the university’s pre-med program. Plus, she became a member of Illinois Wesleyan’s track team, competing as a “thrower,” in discuss, shotput, hammer and weights. A friend in middle school encouraged her to join the track team. Now a college junior, she says the track team is an important part of her life.

Blair, from Wheeling, Illinois, came to the university first as a biology major, but soon realized that she liked chemistry, too. “I wanted to take both of what I love and mix them together. So, I chose biochemistry,” she says. Plus, she has a minor in environmental studies.

Making her university experience possible is an ACI General Scholarship. At the time, her parents were involved in divorce proceedings. “I went in to talk about my financial aid,” Blair says. “Everything was rough. We didn’t have enough money to pay for my school for next year.” Scott Seibring, Illinois Wesleyan’s financial aid director, agreed to help, she says.

“It made a huge difference,” Blair says. “It’s a huge stress reliever on my family especially since my mother is a single mother, and she’s helping pay for school.” In addition to the ACI scholarship, Blair has two scholarships from Chicago organizations.

When she’s not on campus or in class, Blair volunteers in guest services at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in nearby Normal, Illinois. “It’s fun. I have met a lot of patients. I’ve had patient-to-patient interaction, and I’ve learned their stories,” she says. Blair is also active as treasurer of the campus chapter of Black Student Union, participates in the Spanish and Latino Students Association (SALSA) and Alpha Psi Omega, a co-ed service fraternity.

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