Alexis Gregorash
University of St. Francis
ACI General Scholarship

Lexi Gregorash attends the University of St. Francis in her hometown of Joliet, Illinois. Initially, she thought she wanted to be a teacher, and she knew USF has a great education program. In her first year at USF, Gregorash took a general psychology course. She enjoyed it so much that she changed to major to psychology. She remained at USF because of its small classes, plus staff and faculty that always were helpful to students, she says.

“I decided that I wanted to continue in psychology and then move towards counseling, mainly because I have a desire to let others know that there’s someone there who generally cares and wants to listen to them,” she says. “When I graduate from USF, I want to go to grad school to get my master’s in clinical mental health counseling.” From there, she hopes to become a licensed professional counselor and continuing advancing in the profession to licensed clinical professional counselor.

Gregorash, a single mother of a three-year-old, finances her college education with federal grants and loans, plus two scholarships, including an ACI General Scholarship. “It’s helped me tremendously this year,” she says. “For one of my loans, I didn’t get as much as I had last year. So, I was kind of short on funds, and the ACI scholarship was one of my larger scholarships. It’s definitely helped out a lot, so I don’t have to try to scramble or collect money or set up a payment plan.”

“I’m very grateful that I received the scholarship because it’d be very difficult to finish financing my last year here,” she says. ” Scholarships definitely help students to continue pursuing their career goals, their degrees and what they want to do here.”

In addition to being a student at USF, Gregorash is a psychology tutor, a member of the university’s Psychology Club, and she works in the USF Financial Aid Services office.

Austin Wheatley
North Central College
McGraw Foundation Emergency Financial Aid

Austin Wheatley is aiming for a medical career in osteopathic medicine. From Sugar Grove, Illinois, Wheatley says his grandparents’ careers influenced him to pursue medicine. His grandfather was a biology major at the University of Michigan, who planned to attend medical school and went into public health. His grandmother was a newborn intensive care nurse. Wheatley, now a senior, majors in molecular neuroscience at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois.

What brought Wheatley to North Central was baseball, which he played for two years. “Once I came here, research was a big reason I stayed,” Wheatley says. “It’s very important for medical school applications.” Wheatley has worked with a Naperville scientist, Dr. Jim Kaduk, Poly Crystallography Inc., on crystallography research. Together, they’ve published 10 papers, Wheatley says.

After starting aa a biology major and then a biochemistry major, Wheatley chose molecular neuroscience because he was interested in the brain and its role in health, and also to meet some graduation requirements. He has already been accepted at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Eric, Pennsylvania. Wheatley says he’d like to complete his residency in Colorado, then work possibly in emergency room trauma medicine, oncology, cardiology or neurology.

Wheatley holds a presidential scholarship from North Central, contingent on his grades, which pays for a substantial portion of his annual tuition, along with government loans. Facing serious family financial issues and needing more tuition funds, Wheatley and his father reached out to Ann Benjamin, associate director of financial aid at North Central, who helped him secure a McGraw Foundation Emergency Financial Aid grant through ACI. “It’s helped a lot along the way with paying for school and taking some of that stress off my parents in the process,” he says. “It definitely helped. Having these grants really makes sure students can get through college with less stress, and in the long run, have less to pay back.”

Though he no longer plays on the North Central team, Wheatley stays involved in baseball, working in a buddy-baseball program for children in special needs in nearby Wheaton. “I can’t imagine I would have been in that program if it weren’t for being in Naperville,” he says. “I feel like this school has shaped me into who I want to be. North Central has taught me to get involved.”


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