CARBONDALE, Ill. (Oct. 15, 2013) – TJ Tomshack has one more achievement to add to his list: the title of first-ever Rend Lake College graduate to receive the Poshard Foundation Scholarship for his hard work in school and overcoming adversity.
Now a Saluki, Tomshack is working on a Bachelor’s Degree in social work, with hopes of working in child welfare and family counseling. The 2012 RLC grad and 2009 Benton Consolidated High School (BCHS) grad said he credits his grandfather and the TRIO programs at RLC with helping him accomplish his goals.
“The scholarship is for people who have barriers and difficulties growing up, and I had almost no support when I was younger,” said Tomshack. “I grew up taking care of my sister and myself, and I think I did a very good job of raising myself. My grandpa was a pretty big influence on me too.”
As a sophomore at BCHS, Tomshack joined the TRIO program Upward Bound, a college preparatory program through RLC designed to provide academic support, personal and career counseling, and cultural and social enrichment to students. After graduation and his transition to RLC, he joined STARS, a similar TRIO program designed to help eligible students by offering the counseling and academic support.
“The Upward Bound program helped me get where I need to be going. It really helped a lot,” said Tomshack. “I got to do things I wouldn’t normally get to do, and they showed me that I do need to try to go to college. I never planned on going to school, but they showed me the way to go. They’re not just people being professional and doing their jobs; they’re like family down this hallway.”
Now on track to graduate from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in May of 2015, Tomshack said that the scholarship will help his reduce his student loans.
TRIO Director Leah Stallman added, “We’re all really proud of all TJ has achieved, and it’s all by his own accord and motivation. We’re here for the students who want us, and he has taken advantage of that. Its days like this that make us tear up.”
The Poshard Foundation for Abused and Neglected Children was founded in 1999 to help abused children physically and emotionally, and to stop the abuse of children. In the last 14 years, the Foundation has awarded scholarships, sponsored seminars and workshops, and provided funding for various projects and items such as car seats, counseling and medical assistance.