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By Paul Brucker
Since 2003, Alliant has awarded five $2,000 college scholarships in its annual Members Scholarship Program. Winners are evaluated on their academic performance, community involvement, personal goals and what Alliant means to them. Where are the 2003 scholarship winners now? We caught up with two of them. Here’s what we learned.
Amy Feinstein is finishing up a seven-month volunteer stint in Belize as an environmental educator for a conservation program focused on protecting the rain forest. In 2003, she was setting off from her hometown, Denver, CO, to study music and physics at the University of Pittsburgh. Amy had played cello in many orchestras, including the Denver Young Artist Orchestra. More recently, she played cello in an ensemble that performed new minimalist and classical music, as well as contemporary rock. Although she didn’t bring her cello to Belize, she has continued to play there – with a borrowed violin.
After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh with a BA in music, Amy pursued her love of animals by working in environmental education at the Pittsburgh Zoo. While there, she earned an online MA in zoology from the University of Miami (OH), which included field sessions in Mexico, Peru and Mongolia.
Amy’s advice for today’s college students: “Look at college as a jumping off point, as a place to enjoy wonderful experiences and gain valuable knowledge. If there’s something you’re passionate about and can major in it, great. But realize that you’re not restricted. You can change your plans along the way or later. After all, look at me. I went to work for a zoo.”
Through the years, Amy has stashed money into her Alliant savings account and now uses our Savings ATM Card to get cash from ATMs in Belize. When her volunteer gig is over, Amy plans to move back to Colorado, where she still has family, including her father, a pilot for United Airlines. She will look for another job there that aligns with her passion to help protect and take care of animals and the environment.
Eve Winiarski always knew she wanted to be a teacher, and that’s exactly what she became. Today, she teaches AP Psychology at Lemont High School in Lemont, IL. She has been an educator, primarily teaching social studies, since graduating from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) with a double major in secondary education and social studies.
Eve went to high school in Arlington Heights, IL, where she graduated in the top 5% of her class, served on the student council and devoted many hours to community service. While Eve was in college, her mother, a writer for United Airline’s employee and corporate publications, died from cancer. Eve then focused her community service efforts on helping to eliminate that disease by participating in Colleges Against Cancer, an organization that implements programs of the American Cancer Society. She especially enjoyed taking part in its Relay for Life, an overnight walk/run fundraiser.
Her insights for today’s college kids: “There’s a lot more to education than classes. You get to try a lot of new experiences, learn a lot about yourself and the world. Plus, you get to meet a variety of interesting people.” One of the interesting people she met at college was Matt Horan, her husband. Like Eve, Matt also became a social studies teacher.
Eve lives in Glen Ellyn, IL, with Matt and two four-footed friends: Ronnie, the stray cat they took in, and Maebe, a mutt they adopted.
Currently, Eve is earning a master’s degree in social studies by taking the “Culture and Society” program at North Central College in Naperville, IL. At the end of May, she will travel to Zambia for a month-long volunteer gig. Her husband will join her when her assignment ends and they’ll travel through the country of South Africa. “One of the reasons I’m excited to go to Africa is because it’s the only continent I haven’t visited yet except for Antarctica,” she says.
“I’ve been benefitting from the credit union since my birth,” she says. “Being a member has enabled me to save enough money to help my parents pay for my college – and to win a scholarship. Plus, I continue to benefit from my Alliant savings account.”