Since its inception in 2011, four graduates of Proviso East High School have been the beneficiaries of a scholarship of a fellow Proviso East alumna.
Shortly after her death in 2010, a scholarship was established in the name of Ruth C. Schoenbeck, a 1959 Proviso East graduate and a lifelong advocate of public school education. Since its first awarding in 2011 to Brianna Wren, who went on to study accounting at Howard University, the scholarship has helped four graduating seniors with college expenses. It awards $10,000 per year toward the tuition, fees, books, and other education-related expenses for a student going to a four-year school and $5,000 per year if the student attends a two-year community college. The award may be renewable for up to four years.
Kathryn Jandeska, the scholarship chairperson of the Schoenbeck Foundation, said that Ms. Schoenbeck was a lifelong learner. During her career in publishing, she worked for such companies as Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, which publishes the World Book
encyclopedia and where she worked as an editor, and IBM. In 1987, at the age of 46, Ms. Schoenbeck graduated with her law degree from the Santa Clara University School of Law.
Ms. Jandeska said that Ms. Schoenbeck would have wanted to help others like herself, who did not come from a wealthy family, continue their education.
"It seemed like a perfect fit," Ms. Jandeska said. "This is great that this is going to someone who needs it. We are so proud of the past winners because they embody the person that Ruth Schoenbeck was."
To apply for the scholarship, a Proviso East senior must be accepted by an accredited institution of higher education. They also must write a personal essay of 700 to 1,000 words which tells the awarding committee personal details such as where they live, family, interests, plans for college, what they hope to accomplish in life, and other information.
Along with Brianna Wren in 2011, other winners of the Schoenbeck Scholarship have included Jennifer Lee, who went on to study nursing at Triton College with plans to continue her education at Benedictine University, in 2012. There were two winners from the Class of 2013: Brittany Buckner, who plans to study athletic training at Western Illinois University, and Brandon Lewis, who plans to major in kinesiology and hospitality at Eastern Illinois University.
"I was so happy for my mom," Brittany said of winning. "It really helped my family a lot."
Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent of District 209, said that the scholarship is an example of a community partnership that is helpful for students.
"We are grateful to the Ruth C. Schoenbeck Foundation for providing these students the means for continuing their education after high school," she said. "This award shows the deep support that Ms. Schoenbeck had for public education. The winners of this award are excellent students, and we are very proud of them."
Mr. Tony Valente, principal at Proviso East, said that he appreciates the support that Proviso East continues to receive from its graduates.
"It is always good when alumni of Proviso East give back and support those students who come after them," he said. "We are very proud this year of Brittany and Brandon and wish them good luck as they continue their education."