Foundations of East Chicago (FEC) just wrapped up the 2019 scholarship round, awarding 100 students from East Chicago over 2 million dollars! FEC continues to award more students and more money every year because of the passion it has to help students reach their dreams and potential. One student, Jakob Rzepka, who received $20,000 in scholarship funds over 4 years from FEC in 2015 is doing just that.

                Jakob utilized his scholarship at Purdue University Northwest and recently graduated with his Bachelor’s Degree in Construction Engineering and Management Technology. “I had a very inclusive experience. I was able to work in my field of study and go to school, which helped me retain the information I was learning in school. A lot of the professors I had were still working in the field and teaching, so a lot of the content was relevant to what was actually going on in the real world.  At times it was definitely challenging, but I encourage any new college student to take advantage of any resources provided to you, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and most importantly get as much experience as you can before entering the real world, it helps.”

                Like many of our East Chicago scholars, Jakob is a first-generation college graduate and thanks FEC for the opportunity to achieve his dreams. “I may not have been able to financially afford college and was considering not going. The FEC scholarship changed all that, and now here I am.” Jakob applied and received a career with Nipsco as a New Business Specialist.

                Jakob wanted to share some words of wisdom with East Chicago high school students in regards to the FEC scholarship: “APPLY! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and can open so many doors for you. A college degree is not always essential to be successful, but I can tell you from experience that it is definitely worth all of the hard work. You set yourself up for success when you obtain a college degree. If you do have financial difficulties, this scholarship is a way for you to overcome those difficulties and make a difference.” He also had some kind words for FEC to show his gratitude: “This scholarship has changed my life and I can’t thank you enough for that. You all at the Foundations of East Chicago allowed me to become a first-generation college graduate, and without that degree I could not have obtained a job with NIPSCO. You have impacted not only my life, but my family’s life as well.  You have put me in a position to be able to give back to my community and show them just how great the city of East Chicago is. You have also helped shape me into the person I am today. The volunteering that is required to retain the scholarship taught me valuable life lessons and gave me a chance to help out individuals who haven’t had the opportunities I have, which was definitely a humbling experience. I am proud to say I am from East Chicago and honored to say that I was a recipient of a scholarship from the Foundations of East Chicago.”

                We look forward to seeing you succeed on all your future endeavors Jakob!