Scholarship Recipients


The Peoria Area Illini Club awarded three scholarships in 2019 and four scholarships in 2020.  Check back later for more information regarding these scholarship recipients.

2018 Scholarship Recipients

Congratulations to Bryan Himmel, the recipient of one of the fourth annual Peoria Area Illini Club scholarships!  Bryan started as a Freshman at the U of I in the fall of 2018 majoring in biology.  In high school, Bryan earned a perfect GPA and near-perfect ACT and SAT scores, all while serving as captain of the cross country team and president of the key club, and participating in track, the math team, national honor society, and holding jobs as a sales associate and a physics tutor.  In his essay, Bryan wrote that he looks forward to participating in the U of I’s Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program and James Scholars Program to help prepare him for a career as a physician.   


Congratulations to Dakota Richmond, the recipient of one of the fourth annual Peoria Area Illini Club scholarships!  Dakota was a Sophomore at the U of I starting in the fall of 2018 majoring in psychology with the goal of attending law school.  At the U of I, Dakota has maintained a perfect GPA while founding a phi alpha delta law fraternity, hosting red cross blood drives, volunteering within the community, and holding multiple jobs.  In her essay, Dakota wrote about being a first-generation college student saying, “the beautiful thing about U of I is it doesn’t matter where you’re from, how much money your parents make, or even if English is your first language.  If you’re a person with big dreams and isn’t afraid to work hard, you have a place at the University of Illinois.”  She continued that “she dreams to become a lawyer and although she knows that the odds may have been stacked against her, she knows the U of I will help her overcome them with its rigor and possibilities.”


Congratulations to Elisa Jensen, the recipient of one of the fourth annual Peoria Area Illini Club scholarships!  Elisa was a Sophomore at the U of I starting in the fall of 2018 majoring in bioengineering with minors in chemistry, material science and engineering.  In high school, Dakota was a valedictorian at Dunlap, maintaining a perfect GPA and earning a near-perfect ACT Score.  All while maintaining these grades, Elisa has been active in school activities and in the community, earning spots with the all-district band and chorus, receiving a nationally acclaimed award for drum majors, and working at the Dunlap Public Library and volunteering in the Pediatric Diabetes Research Center at OSF.  In college, she hasn’t slowed down with her impressive academic achievements while her involvement has continued with the Biomedical Engineering Society, the Foundation for International Medical Relief for Children, and the Society of Women Engineers and has held a position as a research assistant at the Bills Breast Cancer Institute.  Elisa wrote in her scholarship application that she was drawn to bioengineering after watching at the age of seven the effect her grandmother’s cancer had on her family.


2017 Scholarship Recipients

Congratulations to Austin Triplett, the recipient of one of the third annual Peoria Area Illini Club scholarships!  Austin is an alumnus of Dunlap High School, where he graduated in the top three percent of his high school class and was involved in basketball, golf, LEAF Club, and National Honor Society.  While keeping busy at school, Austin also found time to go on mission trips to Sunset Gap, Tennessee, and Magdalena, Mexico, and volunteers at Midwest Food Bank.  Austin was also involved in the family landscaping business, through which he gained insight into what it takes to operate a business.  With this experience, Austin plans to major in finance at the U of I and to pursue a career in investment banking.  Although he knows a career in investment banking can be difficult, Austin explained in his essay that he believes the U of I will give him a tremendous start his career and allow him to reach accomplishments he has only been able to dream about.   


Congratulations to Kaci Troth, the recipient of one of the third annual Peoria Area Illini Club scholarships!  Kaci is an alumnus of Eureka High School.  Kaci graduated in the top ten percent of her high school class and boasts a double major in chemistry and Spanish.  Even more impressive than her academic success is the level of community involvement that Kaci has been able to maintain demanding academic programs.  In her essay, Kaci described her efforts in tutoring children in 3rd to 5th grade at Dr. Williams Elementary School in Urbana.  Through this Illini Mentor Program, she hopes to have a lasting impact on her community by leading tutoring sessions for two hours per week at the school, as well as biweekly meetings for members to discuss new techniques to improve successful teaching and share their experiences.  In addition, for the last year, Kaci has worked as a Pharmacy Technician at CVS Pharmacy in Savoy.  Kaci plans on continuing her chemistry major and being an active member of the pre-pharmacy club to obtain any help she might need to prepare for pharmacy school.


2016 Scholarship Recipients

Congratulations to Akram Cheema, the recipient of one of the second annual Peoria Area Illini Club scholarships!  At the time of receiving the scholarship, Akram was a Senior at Dunlap High School and planned to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the fall of 2016.  Akram ranked number 1 in his class of 280 and was very active in his school and community, participating in activities such as Leaf Club, Future Career and Community Leaders of America, soccer, volunteering at Methodist Unity Point Hospital, and working at Tender Care Animal Hospital.  Akram plans to pursue a career in veterinary medicine, and as he described in his essay, looks forward to making a positive difference in animals he someday treats. 


Congratulations to Eve Zumwalt, the recipient of one of the second annual Peoria Area Illini Club scholarships!  Eve is an alumnus of Delavan High School.  Eve comes from a family that is deeply rooted in the University, with her great-grandfather graduating from the College of Agriculture in 1876.  That’s 140 years of Illini tradition.  In her essay, Eve explained that she carried on this tradition not only due to her family’s positive influence but also because she recognized the U of I as one of the greatest universities in the country.  In her time at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Eve has been active in the Alpha Chi Omega sorority and the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, all while working as a research assistant in multiple labs and as a classroom assistant at the Carle Auditory and Oral School.  All the while pursuing these social and professional activities, Eve managed to make the Dean’s List three semesters.  After college, Eve is planning to pursue a career working with children in the field of speech and hearing sciences.  Recognizing the scarcity of quality therapists working and living in rural areas, Eve plans to return to a rural community, perhaps her hometown in Tazewell County, to fulfill this critical need for children.


2015 Scholarship Recipient 

Congratulations to Sean Zwicky, the recipient of the first annual Peoria Area Illini Club scholarship!  Sean is a current freshman at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During his short time at UIUC, he has earned a 4.0 GPA in his first semester, joined the Orange Krush, and become active with such organizations as the Swann Center for Severe Mental Disabilities, the Prairie Winds Assisted-Living Center, and the Foundation of International Medical Relief of Children. An alumnus of Pekin Community High School, Sean was the valedictorian of his class, 2-year captain of the varsity soccer team, senior captain of the varsity basketball team, member of both the concert and jazz bands, and very active in his church and community.  After college, Sean is planning to pursue a career in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation, a medical specialty that coordinates recovery and rehabilitation plans for patients with disabilities resulting from disease or injury.