INA – Travis Zettler, a 19-year-old sophomore at Rend Lake College, is the recipient of the coveted Fornear Family Scholarship – a full-ride for two years at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale that is given annually to an RLC student planning to transfer to SIUC.
Zettler, of Sesser, found out about the honor – along with the rest of those dining in a packed Great Room – at the 17th Annual Rend Lake College Foundation Scholarship Dinner held Thursday night at the Rend Lake Resort and Conference Center. He retook the stage, after just finishing a speech, and simply stated, “All I can say is thank you – thank you very much.”
Once the surprise had settled in, Zettler said, “I was completely shocked. I didn’t know what to say. I was just so excited.”
Words like honored, grateful and proud don’t seem to describe it, he said. A better word would be “blessed” – “blessed” that he was chosen to receive the generous scholarship and “blessed” that he will be able to meet his goal of studying at SIUC.
“Without this scholarship, I know that I wouldn’t have been able to go to SIUC without going into debt,” he said. “My parents would not have been able pay for it. The financial burden would have been too much.”
The Fornear Family Scholarship, worth about $16,000 to $20,000, will enable Zettler to earn his baccalaureate without facing the possible financial pitfalls associated with student loans. While considering what such a generous gift means and the path of potential it sets before him, he said it will make him a better student.
“It makes me feel a lot more confident and determined,” he explained. “I want to put the money to good use and not just waste the opportunity.”
Zettler is a 3.0 student at RLC, studying in the IT Systems Specialist program. His dream is to be a network administrator. He is a Student Ambassador at the college and is the only student to currently hold a part-time position at RLC. He enjoys playing his guitar, paintball and video games in his spare time and lives in Sesser with his parents, Rodney and Carolyn Zettler.
In addition to the Fornear Scholarship, Zettler is the recipient of the Emil Perpich Memorial Scholarship that has covered a portion of his tuition and books at RLC.
The Fornear Scholarship has been generously assisting RLC students who plan to transfer to SIUC for eight years. The first student to receive it was Jody Williams in 1998.
At the RLCF Scholarship Dinner, Zettler had the opportunity to meet members of the Fornear Family.
“They are very, very nice people,” he said.
RLC President Mark S. Kern told those who attended the annual event that $350,000 in scholarships have been awarded by the RLC Foundation to more than 300 recipients for the summer 2006 semster, fall 2006 semester and anticipated spring 2007 semester. In the 40 years that Rend Lake College’s doors have been open to the citizens of numerous surrounding communities, scholarship incentives have continued to be available. The $350,000 in scholarships awarded, when combined with tuition waivers granted to students for academic and athletic scholarships, totals nearly $1 million in financial assistance this year alone.