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Office of the Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement

Giving Stories

Ashley Cunningham

Ashley Cunningham beat the odds. Ashley

Neither of her parents graduated from high school. She was raised in a crowded mobile home in a dangerous neighborhood. And, she was born with a hearing impairment that should have limited her ability to read and learn…at least that’s what the doctor said. Ashley is now an Early Education major at the University of Illinois, a scholarship recipient, and a volunteer at her old high school. The doctor has since admitted he was wrong.

Ashley is proof that hard work and determination bring success. She also credits a good elementary school and the loving support of her parents. And while she always knew she would go to college, Illinois seemed out of reach. A scholarship made the difference.

That scholarship means more than money to Ashley. “It’s about being chosen. It is proof that I’m doing something worthy…doing something right,” she reflects. “I’m trying to make a difference. I want to provide an equal chance to others in my situation.”