URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Two University of Illinois students are among the recipients of the Obama-Chesky Scholarship, a prestigious award that only 100 students in the country have a chance to win each year.
The scholarship helps college students prepare for a career in public service. Each recipient gets $25,000 during both their junior and senior years. They also get $10,000 for travel programs over the summer.
Andres Vazquez applied for the scholarship last year and is now one of two winners at the U of I. Initially, he was shocked to have been chosen for the honor. Now, he said he feels excited, content, and eager.
“It helps reduce the stresses of paying for college by giving us $25,000 per year, up to $25,000 per year,” he said.
David Schug, the Director of the National and International Scholarship Program, said they provide students with as much help as possible.
“U of I students actually compete well at these awards. So put in an application and then, yes, we offer our services as far as writing and putting together the materials,” Schug said.
Schug is one of the many U of I employees who help students with the application process by providing writing workshops, involving faculty members, and getting feedback from alumni.
“You have two students who won last year and two students who won again this year. The program’s only been running a couple of years,” Schug said. “So having four out of 200 Voyager Scholars from the University of Illinois really says great things about our students here.”
Growing up in Southeast Chicago, Vazquez said it was dangerous and difficult, as his community had limited access to good jobs and parks.
“The neighborhood has lost investments, transportation has gone away, and the access to parks, which is what’s really critical to me,” Vazquez said.
His goal is to make a difference and help people any way he can.
“I wanted to increase park access because I have never walked to my local park. I’ve never walked outside my house.”
Vazquez said he plans on pursuing a career in economic and community development so he can help people by changing policies and making communities safer.