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Students, Alumni

Illinois Promise Alumna: “Grateful to Give Back”

October 26, 2023

image of Hallene Gateway on U of I campus

Alum Spotlight: Lena Summers

Lena Summers (BS, psychology, 2021; MSW, 2022) is a proud Illinois Promise alum. After graduating with a B.S. in psychology and beginning an MSW program at Illinois, she spent her final semester of grad school in a full-time internship working with homeless youth in Seattle, Washington. After graduation, Lena took a position as a social worker with Washington state’s Child Protective Services (CPS). “I investigate child abuse and neglect cases and assess child safety. It’s emotionally taxing, but it’s so very rewarding.” Lena goes on to share, “I chose this line of work mostly due to personal experiences. There is such an importance in the work CPS does. Ensuring child safety is a crucial role in society, and I’m grateful to be giving back in such an important way.”

As an Illinois Promise Scholar, Lena served as a member of the Illinois Promise Council (student leadership group) and even interned with the Scholars Support Programs unit, where Illinois Promise is housed. When reflecting on the impact that Illinois Promise had on her time as an undergrad and beyond, Lena notes, “Illinois Promise has meant the world to me. I would not be where I am without the support and opportunities that Illinois Promise provided me. Not only could I attend an amazing university with little to no debt, it encouraged me to invest further in my education and myself by continuing on to earn my masters. I never thought it would be possible for me to earn a college degree, let alone at the graduate level. Illinois Promise was a big contributor to these achievements.”

Lena is forever grateful for her time in I-Promise. “I got to meet such incredible Scholars and work with the amazing Illinois Promise staff who do this work with so much heart!” And, as Lena points out, support doesn’t stop once Scholars graduate. “Once an Illinois Promise Scholar, forever an Illinois Promise Scholar!”

Lena still lives in Seattle, enjoying the natural surroundings and spending time with her favorite guy–her Golden Retriever, Chandler.

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