NIU names Forward, Together Forward scholarship recipients

DeKALB – Northern Illinois University recently announced its 2023 recipients of the Forward, Together Forward scholarship, a fund created in honor of the five NIU students who were killed in a mass shooting in DeKalb on Feb. 14, 2008.

The scholarships are give to students who, according to NIU, echo qualities of the slain NIU students: Gayle Dubowski, Catalina Garcia, Julianna Gehant, Ryanne Mace and Dan Parmenter.

The $5,000 scholarships recognize students for classroom excellence and contributions to their communities and the campus, according to NIU.

Applicants must demonstrate strength of character through motivation, integrity, intellectual curiosity, inspiration, a strong work ethic and high regard for others.

The Forward, Together Forward scholarship recipients include:

  • Henry Tomiser of St. Louis. Tomiser participates in the Week of Welcome Events, staffs the Honors Welcome tent at Homecoming, and helps children with crafts at the Autism Caregivers booth during STEM Fest, according to NIU. He is part of a program that plays music for people with dementia. Tomiser also is a member of the Penguin Players, a program that helps adults with disabilities to experience live music. He maintains a 4.0 grade point average. Tomiser is majoring in psychology. He plans to work as a speech-language pathologist. Tomiser also plans to earn a speech and hearing science Ph.D. to research new language interventions for children.
  • Chloe Steffel of Frankfort. Steffel was her high school’s Air Force Junior ROTC program leader, participating in the drill team, cadet staff and color guard, according to NIU. She performed more than 100 hours of community service, was a high school band member and volunteered as a camp counselor at a children’s farm, teaching children animal care. Steffel maintains a 4.0 grade point average. She is majoring in human development and family sciences. Steffel plans on working as a hospital or school social worker.
  • Ian Rabanal of Carol Stream. Rabanal is a transfer student from Elgin Community College. He is part of the Business Administration Student Association executive board, the Management and Business Administration Student Advisory Board, the board of the Society of Human Resource Management and the Dean’s Student Advisory Board, according to NIU. Rabanal is currently majoring in management with a human resources focus and a marketing minor. He plans on working for a company that supports and cares for its employees.
  • Sergio Dondiego of Romeoville. Dondiego serves as the Northern Prairie Alliance community chair, helping members find volunteer opportunities. Dondiego works with METAS, a program that helps first-year Latinx students with their college transition. He volunteers at STEM Fest, is a NIU Honors Program member, and works at the Founders Memorial Library circulation desk. Dondiego plans on becoming a nurse practitioner for orthopedic surgeons. He also intends on becoming a nursing school instructor.
  • Vanessa Olandese of Woodstock. Olandese is a McHenry County College transfer student. She was McHenry Community College’s student body president, according to NIU. Olandese is a member of LEAD, an organization that supports the university’s business ethics program. She is part of the NIU Honors Program and is a student body representative to the Honors Committee. Olandese tutors students and serves as vice president of fundraising for the NIU chapter of Women in Business Professionals. She is majoring in accounting. Olandese will intern with PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
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