Janiece Bollie has undoubtedly had her share of life's challenges. She could have used those challenges as excuses for not achieving her goals; but not Janiece. In fact, her trials have inspired her to donate her home through her will to Northern Illinois University, to establish the Janiece Bollie Scholarship Fund. "I want to help students who have faced significant hardships in life," she says. "It is gratifying to know that when Northern sells my home, the money will be used to help so many." While not a graduate of NIU, Janiece has worked in the NIU Center for Governmental Studies as a research analyst for two years.
Janiece's challenges began early. Born deaf, she learned to read lips so well that her mother didn't realize she could not hear until she entered school. Janiece was eager to play the piano, but it wasn't easy finding someone who could teach a child who couldn't hear. One teacher in her small town of Sandwich, Ill., was willing. Janiece says she will never forget the woman who opened the door to a pastime she still enjoys today. Fortunately, by age 9, much of Janiece's hearing had returned, and by age 13 she had mastered the keyboard well enough to play at church.
While Janiece has faced a number of challenges, her parents had their own as well. Her father had vision problems and battled severe rheumatoid arthritis, which made earning a living difficult. Her mother suffered from diabetes and heart problems. When Janiece graduated from high school, money was tight and she had to forego college. "I really wanted to go to college, but I knew I would have to get a job first and save money," Janiece recalls.
Years later, while working at a community college, Janiece was finally able to begin her studies of business and psychology. She excelled and later earned a degree from a Chicago-area university. For Janiece, an education was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
Today, at age 54, Janiece battles her own arthritis, which affects her mobility and makes it difficult to play the piano. But she doesn't let that get her down. In fact, she says there is little she would change about her life. All of life's ups and downs have made her even more determined to help students facing their own roadblocks. "I believe in my heart that an education is the key to a meaningful life. I want to share my love of lifelong learning with others…hopefully my gift will make a difference."
Northern Illinois University has designated the NIU Foundation as the charitable organization to receive and manage all gifts on its behalf.
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