Learn More About Our Scholarship Program
Our scholarship program is a key component of our mission to provide for the higher education of students from the Chicagoaland area.
Each year, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana (RMHC-CNI) awards $4,000/year, renewable scholarships to extraordinary area high school seniors who are committed to community service and academic excellence.
Once awarded, our scholarships are renewable for four years of college, contingent upon the student maintaining a specified GPA and performing hours of community service each year.
Since 2006, we have awarded more than $1 million dollars to 123 students and have assisted 60 students in achieving their college degrees. Our ability to award scholarships to outstanding young adults comes from local fund raising events, corporate and private donations, and donation box proceeds from local McDonald’s restaurants.
Applications are available in October at rmhc.org and due January 20th of the student’s senior year in high school.
Before Kjersten Johnson was selected as a recipient of our Scholarship Program this past summer, she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia during her sophomore year of high school. Before that, she was a dancer. “I loved dancing,” Kjersten shared, “I was enrolled in really fun classes but when I got sick, I had to stop. I ended up in a wheelchair for several months.” Cancer was her diagnosis, but it wasn’t to be her definition. Simply and amazingly, Kjersten says, “I just had to hit pause for a while.”
While Kjersten received chemotherapy, she spent time at our Ronald McDonald House® near
Lurie Children’s. The House became a place her family could depend on. “It was comforting to know the House was there for us,” she explains. “Sometimes we would be in the hospital from dawn until dusk, sometimes a week at a time. Instead of driving home in the middle of the night or waking up crazy early, we had somewhere close where we knew we would always be welcomed.” She has favorite memories including a Chicago Bulls party, a Cupcake Wars bakeoff and the constant feeling that everyone at the House “takes time to make everything special and stress-free, which has been a blessing.”
Kjersten made it a priority to get back into musical theater and she dreamed of going to college. She applied for RMHC’s Scholarship and shared how the Charity made an impact on her life and her goal to become an occupational therapist. In August, Kjersten started as a freshman at Hope College. “I love it. It’s a small, friendly community and everyone says hi. Her advice for anyone embarking on a new journey, “Don’t ever underestimate yourself. You probably are capable of far more than you think you are.”
Matt O’Neill is a past recipient who has accomplished great things as a student and young professional. Matt interned with the Charity for two summers where he focused on finances and database management. During his study abroad program in college, Matt also volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House in Vienna, Austria!
After graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2012 from the College of Business, Matt joined Lincoln International as an Investment Banking Analyst. Matt greatly valued his experience at Lincoln International and after two years, he moved to work in operations for a small business as the New Projects Manager at Parker Plastics. As part of that role, Matt moved to Las Vegas in July 2015 to open up a new manufacturing plant for the company.
Matt remains involved with RMHC as a member of our Red Shoe Society Chicago, and he has begun to get involved with the Ronald McDonald House in Las Vegas. Matt is also an active member of RMHC-CNI’s Education Committee, where he has served for two years.
Jillian Dixon received an RMHC-CNI scholarship in the summer of 2011 upon graduation from Griffith High School in Griffith Indiana. She began attending Indiana State University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
During her time in college, she was an active member of Chi Omega Sorority, and volunteered her time with the Make A Wish Foundation and at Ronald McDonald House of Indiana in Indianapolis.
Jillian will graduate in the spring of 2015 with her degree and hopes to work at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis and to continue volunteering with Ronald McDonald House.
“The scholarship gave me the opportunity to go to college and gave me a greater awareness of Ronald McDonald House Charities and the children and families it serves,” Jillian said.
Brianna Winbush received an RMHC-CNI/AAFA scholarship in 2011 as a graduating high school senior from St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois. She immediately began her four-year college career at the University of Michigan where she began studying psychology.
While at the University of Michigan, she was a committed volunteer with ECO Girls, whose mission is to foster environmental awareness and stewardships, ecological literacy, cultural education, friendship building, self-confidence, and leadership skills for elementary and middle school girls in the southeastern Michigan cities of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Detroit.
While at the university, Brianna launched her own website – thebossup.com – a site committed to women and includes daily celebrity gossip, fashion trends, lifestyle tips and everyday motivation. Brianna has also served as a Resident Assistant for the past two years, assisting freshmen with a variety of issues as they transition to college life.
Brianna credits the scholarship with permitting her to have a very special college experience. “The scholarship award allowed me to be a student and to find myself,” Brianna said. “Without the scholarship, it would have probably been very hard for my parents to find the funds to send me to the University of Michigan,” she said.
After graduation, Brianna plans to return to Chicago to work in the social media and marketing field. She will also become a member of RMHC-CNI’s Education Committee, the committee responsible for reviewing scholarship applications, interviewing candidates and awarding scholarships every year.