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Promise Fest: dreams realized

By Anna Soloff
On October 6, 2013

Governors State University is hosting the first ever GSU Promise Fest October 4 and 5. The GSU Promise Fest will feature one
evening of entertainment, as well as 5K run and craft fair, in support of the GSU Promise Scholarship.

The Center for Performing Arts October 4 will feature comedy by Damon Williams, of Showtime at the Apollo fame, as part of the
GSU Promise Fest festivities.

GSU Promise Fest is the result of a class project by a group of marketing and advertising students at GSU. The idea was formulated last semester in Professor Don Wlordarski's Advertising and Marketing class. Bianca Mangabhai, Daniel Ellington, Nia Robertson, Jeffrey Wyskiel, and Teena Dorn, all students in Wlodarski's class, worked together to create the GSU Promise Fest. Mangabhai, an international student at GSU, is excited to see the group's idea come to life.

"I come from a country (Zimbabwe) where the economy is drastically changing and the opportunity for a great education seems so
farfetched for many who dream of getting a higher education," said Mangabhai. "Therefore I think the Promise is a great thing and I took on this project fundraiser to help others who come behind me to get the education they need and deserve. To those who have and will benefit from the Promise Scholarship, I say the sky is the limit. Be grateful for the opportunity you have been given because
others can only dream to have what you have."

The GSU Promise Scholarship was established in 2012 by GSU President Elaine P. Maimon to help students who are economically disadvantaged. The scholarship is for undergraduate students who are participants in GSU's Dual Degree Program. The Dual Degree Program was designed to help community college students earn both their Associates and Bachelors degrees in an affordable manner. Randi Schneider, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management, cited low college graduation rates in the south
Chicago metropolitan area as one of the key reasons for the creation of GSU's Dual Degree Program.

According to Schneider, "In response to the low rate of college completion in south metro Chicago and the national call to increase
Associates and Bachelors degree completion, ten community college presidents collaborated with Dr. Maimon to create the Dual Degree Program. The Dual Degree Program provides full-time students at these 10 community colleges with a pathway to earn quality, accessible and affordable Associate and Bachelor's degrees in the shortest amount of time possible."

Schneider said the university's goal is to have 50 Promise Scholars at GSU at one time and to award approximately 25 scholarships
each year. There are currently over 130 students at GSU who are Dual Degree Program participants and approximately 300
students at the 10 participating community college systems who are part of the program. Participating community colleges include
Joliet Junior College, Kankakee Community College, Moraine Valley Community College, Prairie State College, South Suburban College,
Triton College, Harper College, College of DuPage, Morton College, and the City Colleges of Chicago. Students enrolled in the Dual Degree Program are guaranteed admittance into GSU. In addition, those in the program have a locked-in tuition rate for their
first two years at GSU, based on their semester of enrollment at GSU.

In addition to being active in the Dual Degree Program, students must be eligible for a Pell grant and must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.75 in order to be eligible for the GSU Promise Scholarship. The Promise Scholarship covers the full cost of tuition, fees
and $1200 towards books. Additionally, the scholarship covers expenses not covered by Pell and MAP award grants and can be
awarded for a total of four semesters.

Student Senate Student Trustee Kayla Randolph-Clark is a recipient of the GSU Promise Scholarship. According to Clark, the
GSU Promise Scholarship, "represents how GSU is committed to helping students earn their degrees, no matter what their background or socioeconomic status may be."

Clark is grateful for the educational opportunity the GSU Promise Scholarship has provided her. "I would say to future Promise
applicants that to receive this scholarship is an honor and a blessing, and if they should be so lucky to receive this award, it would behoove them to pay it forward-by helping other students, getting involved on campus or giving back to their community," said Clark.

Tickets for the Damon Williams GSU Promise Fest performance can be purchased at or by calling 708-283-2222.
More information regarding the event can be found at

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