Give Something Back scholarship changed the life of a student at ISU

Published: Nov. 4, 2023 at 5:14 PM CDT
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NORMAL (25News Now) - Erinda Aidoo is a senior at Illinois State University and is one of 2,000 Give Something Back scholarship recipients nationwide.

Give Something Back is a nationally renowned non-profit organization that provides scholarships to help students throughout the United States

get to and pay for college.

“Give Back has been so impactful and meaningful for me because it literally is the reason I can go to college for free, and not a lot of people can say that,” Aidoo said.

Aidoo recalled her first year of high school when she came across a flyer for Give Back and applied for the scholarship. She has been dedicated to school and her future ever since.

“Give Something Back was the first time somebody invested in me academically, and because of that, it made me more confident in what I wanted to do in the future, so it really opened many avenues for me, especially at ISU,” Aidoo said. “Because of Give Back, I was able to stand out and achieve other things at ISU, and I’m just very grateful for that.”

Give Something Back serves students in 15 different states. The volunteers find 8th and 9th-grade students and spend years of time and money helping them achieve their academic dreams.

Give Something Back started in 2013. The CEO and Founder of the organization, Robert Carr, also went through college on a $250 scholarship from a group in his hometown of Lockport, Illinois.

Carr vowed he would pay that money back with interest; he ended up giving millions back to the organization.

Now, he has started his organization to give back and help thousands of students like Aidoo.

“I know what the impact was for me as a high school student on getting that award, and I wanted to help as many kids as possible,” Carr said.

Carr has done just that. Give Something Back celebrated its 20th anniversary and 2,000th student Saturday morning at Illinois State University.

“John Stuart Mill, who created this kind of philosophy of utilitarianism about doing that which helps the most people in the best possible way, that sort of became my philosophy of how to live a good life, and so I’ve tried to live by that, and we have 2,000 kids in our program now so it’s working,” said Carr.

There are seven other Give Back scholarship recipients at Illinois State University. The Interim President of ISU, Dr. Aondover Tarhule, says he is delighted to work with Give Back.

“We’re relatively new to the organization, but I can tell you the impact it has made, and the difference that we’re seeing is already phenomenal. I love it,” Dr. Tarhule said.

Dr. Tarhule was an international student from Nigeria. He says he went to college in Canada and adds that a big reason he is the Interim President of ISU today is because of the support he got from organizations like Give Back.

“I take it very personally, and I have some very deep personal experiences and commitments to programs like this,” Dr. Tarhule said.

Dr. Tahule says he is extremely happy with the results of Give Back with his institution and couldn’t be more proud of Aidoo and students like her.

“Here she is on the verge of launching her career and advanced education in her chosen field, all of which might not have been possible were it not for this Give Back scholarship,” Dr. Tarhule said.

As for Aidoo, she graduates in May of 2024 with a pre-med degree in molecular and cellular biology, hoping to go to med school and get an MD-PhD. She says she has loved ISU but is excited for the future.