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Faces of MAP

MAP Matters to NIU Lincoln Laureate Nora Lindvall

MAP Matters to NIU Lincoln Laureate Nora Lindvall

The path to becoming Northern Illinois University’s top senior was not always easy for Geneva native Nora Lindvall. However, with financial help and a strong work ethic, she found the student-centered DeKalb campus to be the land of opportunity.

Lindvall, a transfer student from Waubonsee Community College, was on a path to earn bachelor’s degrees with honors in both English and political science. She credited her strong work ethic to her late mother, Linda Lencioni, a single parent who ran her own business.

“My mom made a lot of sacrifices during her life, caring for family members and retiring early from business to care for my grandmother and uncle,” Lindvall says about her mother, who passed away in 2007. “That really inspired me, and I’ve tried to follow in her footsteps.”

While in college, she honored her mother’s memory in countless ways. Among Lindvall’s many achievements and activities:

  • She was named NIU’s Lincoln Laureate as the university’s top senior.
  • She founded and served as president of the NIU Student Advisory Council on Learning Outcomes believed to be one of the few student organizations of its kind nationwide.
  • She participated in NIU’s Oxford Study Abroad Program
  • She studied French in Paris, German in Munich and Swedish in Gothenburg, as well as Italian and Dutch.
  • In addition to being a decorated equestrian, she is also a triathlete.
  • Having worked as a child actor in both film and commercials, she used her earnings to purchase her first horse. Throughout her college career, she continued to run her own business, selling and leasing hunter-jumper horses.

While working on an independent research project on the far-right political party known as the Swedish Democrats, she applied for and won two competitive NIU grants that enabled her to collect data in Sweden. She also conducted research on the lack of a coalition government in Belgium.

“Nora represents very well the value that our institution can provide to all our students, if they are willing, as Nora is, to reach out and challenge themselves,” says Deborah Pierce, associate provost for International Programs at NIU. “As she once told me, she made NIU her own personal Harvard.”

But Lindvall says her impressive college career would not have been possible without the help she received from the state’s Monetary Award Program(MAP).

“I did not receive any family support. I had to pay for college all myself,” Lindvall says. “Without the MAP grant, I would not have been able to attend NIU, continue my studies and succeed academically.”

More than 5700 NIU students – more than one in three undergraduate students – rely on MAP grant funding to help pay for their education. 

MAP Matters for Janie Gallina

When she was a recently divorced 29-year-old mother with a four year old son, Janie Gallina knew she needed to embark on a new path for her life in order to better support herself and her child.

It was not going to be easy for Janie, who needed to work full-time to make ends meet, but she was determined to finally realize her dream of becoming a paralegal.

Faces of Map Janie GallinaBecause she qualified for the Monetary Award Program, Janie was able to enroll at William Rainey Harper College in Palatine, earn her paralegal certificate in two and a half years and have the credentials to begin a new career.

"Because I received the MAP grant, I was able to support my son, go to school and achieve my goal of becoming a paralegal," she explained.

Twice a week, Janie would leave her job in downtown Chicago and travel down the Eisenhower Expressway to Harper for class. She would then go home, study, do homework and get up early the next morning for work.

"As a MAP recipient, I was able to realize the importance of higher education, especially from the standpoint of a single parent,” Janie added. “MAP made it possible for me to achieve my goal."

She worked at private law firm for several years before landing a paralegal position at the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, the agency that administers MAP. 

MAP Matters for Lizette Cambron

Faces of Map Lizette  Cambron

It hadn’t been an easy year for Aurora University student Lizette Cambron.

The youngest of four children and the first in her family to attend college, Lizzette was forced to become the financial provider for the family when her mother lost her job. When her mother’s unemployment benefits were exhausted, finances became even more of a struggle.

“Receiving MAP was crucial for me,” she explained. “Without financial aid, I would not have been able to afford to attend Aurora University. The books were more expensive every year, and every year I found it harder to find a job that fit a college student’s schedule.”

She babysat to bring in extra money, and also served at a Resident Advisor at AU. Lizzette studied pre-med, with plans to become a doctor.

While Lizzette’s path to earning her college degree was not an easy one, she was able to share her experiences and offer advice to other students in her role as President of AU’s Latin American Student Organization.

“Serving as President offered me the opportunity to develop leadership skills, as well as mentor other students,” she said. She was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet and talk with Congressman Luis Gutierrez at a Midwest Student Leadership Conference. She also became involved with Writers Block and Colleges Against Cancer.

Students like Lizzette worry about whether they can afford to continue their education because of the uncertainty of MAP fund availability.

“I had so much potential and my dedication and desire to learn were at their highest,” she said. “But money was always an obstacle for me.”