Scholarship winners feel honored to ‘carry the torch’


Shocked was the reaction of the five NIU students who became the first recipients of the new Forward, Together Forward scholarship.

“I can’t really describe it in words other than honor,” said recipient Jacqueline Do, sophomore double major in biology and chemistry.

The scholarship was given out during Feb. 14’s day-long memorial service to five recipients who all received $4,000.

The other recipients were Deanna Bach, junior Spanish languages and literature major; Scott Hudek, sophomore political science major; Justin Kuryliw, junior business major; and Grace Weidner, sophomore double major in communications and political science.

But for some of the recipients, the scholarship is worth more than the money.

“It’s a much bigger honor and privilege because this has a lot more value than a monetary one,” Hudek said. “There’s an emotional and spiritual value that we have to live up to honor.”

Seventy-one students applied and each were considered for their GPAs, community service, honors and extracurricular activities, but even more so for their character and values; the same hardworking, selfless and friendly characteristics and values exhibited by the five students lost to the shootings on Feb. 14, 2008.

The five scholarship recipients were invited to a private luncheon with NIU President John Peters and the families of the students who died.

One of the recipients, Justin Kuryliw, recalled Daniel Parmenter’s parents approaching him at the luncheon and saying to him, “Thanks for carrying on the torch.”

“It’s an amazing honor to be seen as carrying on someone’s memory, and I can’t think of anything better,” Kuryliw said.

While the honor of receiving the scholarship bears great responsibility, Bach never thought of it as bearing a burden.

“I don’t think ‘burden’ is a word to describe it,” Bach said. “I think we’re very privileged to show the right traits to bring to future students.”

Weidner, who was in the classroom of the Cole Hall shootings, has taken much more out of her Feb. 14 experience than just the scholarship.

“As someone who knows some of the pain of the victims, you just want to honor those who are gone,” Weidner said. “You want to take every bit from their lives and apply it to yours.”