Emily, Journalism, Class of 2018

“Thanks to your scholarship, I am closer to fulfilling my dream of attending college and pursuing a career in journalism. I have always had an interest in writing and I am very grateful for the opportunity to continue my education in media. I have just completed a summer internship with the Commercial News where I had the opportunity to write articles, report, take photos and interview locals. I am excited to see all that I will be able to accomplish with a college degree in media.”

Monisha, Advertising, Class of 2015

“I would like to gratefully thank you for your scholarship contribution to my tuition. This award has shown me that my hard work and dedication to my education is paying off in ways I may not be able to see, but others see in me. I am a dedicated student in advertising as well as business, and I am also an out-of-state student, so this contribution to my tuition helps not only me, but my family as well. We are all very thankful for your contribution.”

Freshman Story on Peyton Wesner (key statements underlined for quick reference)

While growing up in the southern Illinois town of Olney, Peyton Wesner surrounded himself with sports. From high school activities to writing a sports blog to regularly watching ESPN or NBC, role models such as Al Michaels, Bob Costas and other influential analysts educated him on the profession. He saw himself in their shoes and began his own journey early.

“Once I was introduced to grammar and writing, I started capturing all my sports memories,” Wesner said. “A baseball game in St. Louis or a football game in Indianapolis. In junior high I started writing for websites and shared my respect and admiration for everyone in this profession.”

Illinois was always at the top of his list growing up. He knew Illinois would take his incredible passion for sports broadcasting to the next level. And today, he knows a solid writing background is a necessity to making it in the industry.

“My ideal job is sports broadcasting, like a game announcer,” Wesner said. “But being a good writer is important to me. Writing has prepared me for this transition and what I will be dealing with in the future.” 

Even with the energy and competition of sports, Wesner considers himself to be a humble person of strong faith.

“I strive for greatness and doing it all in the right way,” Wesner said.  “And leadership ties into being a true professional.”

 These characteristics are part of why he is receiving the Gerald P. Johnson Scholarship. Established in memory of Champaign community member and sport enthusiast, Gerald Johnson, this merit-based award is given to an undergraduate with an interest in broadcast journalism.

“It was definitely an honor and something I didn’t expect,” Wesner said. “It matches my interests perfectly.” 

When asked to share his thoughts on the impact of alumni and donors, Wesner expressed his appreciation for everything they have done for current and future students.

“Many of the great programs wouldn’t reach that next level of world-wide ranking without their support,” Wesner said. “Even though you may not think about them in class or during an internship, you know they assist either financially or with their time.”

“It is always great to have someone tell you, you are not alone, even when going through a tough time. And anything is possible when you put your mind to it. They are a very supportive group of men and women who are instrumental to the success of the current student body.”

Wesner plans on getting comfortable with his surroundings his first year, connecting with the professors and forming friendships that last past Illinois.

“It can be really nerve-wracking as a freshman wanting to do it all very well,” he said. “People tell me the transition will be smooth but I am always second guessing. I know I’m the one who has to make it happen. I feel the possibilities are endless and am very excited about that.”