DeKALB – Two successful Northern Illinois University alumni recently made a $25,000 donation to support scholarships for promising students who may not have the resources to attend college.
Wheeler Coleman, chairman of the Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees, and his wife, Sharon Coleman, a federal judge, made a $25,000 contribution to NIU’s CHANCE program during an Oct. 12 event in Chicago.
Wheeler Coleman, a 1983 graduate, said that the CHANCE program made a college education attainable for him and also prepared him to succeed. Coleman went on to hold several executive-level positions with Blue Cross Blue Shield and now is the CEO of EC United, a Chicago-based executive consultant firm.
“In addition to allowing me to learn my craft as a technologist, it also taught me how to be a better leader and a better man,” Coleman said.
CHANCE is an acronym for counseling, help and assistance necessary for a college education. The program grew from 56 students, including nine transfers and four GED students, in January 1969 to routinely admitting hundreds of students a year.
Coleman’s wife, Sharon Coleman, is a 1981 NIU graduate and a federal judge in the Northern District of Illinois.
Wheeler Coleman acknowledged that his success was due to the generations of students that fought for the CHANCE program.
“I know that as an alumnus, and as a trustee, I don’t stand alone,” he said. “I am standing on the shoulders and in the footprints of those who came before me, giants who opened doors and created opportunities for people they didn’t know. And it reminded me that we all have an obligation to give back.”