Monday, February 22, 2016

Leadership lived: Student becomes the face of the MAP grant funding effort

When Jamie Anderson came to the University of Illinois Springfield, she never expected to be in the spotlight. However, that all changed when her ability to pay for a college education was threatened by a lack of a state budget.

Anderson is one of nearly 700 UIS students for whom the state-supported Monetary Assistance Program (MAP) is essential for access to a college education.

Since October 2015, Anderson has been advocating for funding alongside U.S. Senators, state constitutional officers and leaders in higher education.

“So many students are worried about if we’re going to get MAP grants this year, next year,” she said. “MAP grants make up about $4,000 to $5,000 of my financial aid and that’s a huge chunk that I would not be able to contribute on my own.”

Anderson has spoken at press conferences, attended the governor’s state of the state speech at the capitol and testified before a house committee on higher education funding.

“I never would have imagined speaking in front of so many important people, having important people come up to me on the street saying ‘nice job’,” she said.

Outside of her MAP grant efforts, Anderson is also starting a group on campus called UIS Child Advocates to teach students how they can better advocate for children.

“It’s really boosted my confidence in a way to say I can be a leader and I can advocate for something way bigger,” she said.

Anderson also mentors kids through 4-H and Big Brothers Big Sisters and mentors first-generation college students as part of the Necessary Steps Program.

Following graduation, Anderson plans to earn her master’s degree in social work with a concentration in child welfare.

“Me being the shy person I was, I always hated being the center of attention,” she said. “Now that I’ve got to experience some of it, it’s like wow. I love how I’ve seen myself grow over the time of me being a freshman until now.”

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