(Charleston, IL) – Eastern Illinois University College of Education graduate students Norriana Hayes, Lois Karimu, Luis Paniagua, and Chavionne Thomas have been awarded a Diversifying Higher Education Faculty in Illinois (DFI) Fellowship for the 2023-24 academic year. At least one EIU student has been awarded a DFI Fellowship each year since the 2017-18 academic year, with a total of 13 EIU students earning the distinction in the past 7 years.

As fellowship recipients, Hayes, Karimu, Paniagua and Thomas each are being awarded $15,000 by the State to support their studies as they work to graduate and later secure jobs in higher education in the State of Illinois. Each of the students are currently pursuing graduate degrees from EIU’s College of Education. Prior to their time at EIU, Hayes graduated from the Senn Arts Magnet Program at Senn High School in Chicago, Karimu graduated from Antioch (IL) Community High School; Paniagua graduated from Waukegan High School, and Thomas also graduated from Antioch (IL) Community High School.

EIU Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Ryan Hendrickson expressed his excitement for the quartet, and for again seeing students from EIU earn the select honor.

“This award from the State of Illinois is a testament to the quality of our students and the excellence of our education programs,” Hendrickson said. “These four students will make outstanding DFI fellows and will continue to grow into their roles as exceptional leaders in Illinois higher education. This is a wonderful distinction for them, and for Eastern Illinois University’s academic community.”

Past EIU recipients of the DFI award include Maliya Smith (2017), Courtney Walton (2018), Emmanuel Ayiku, Chanell Hall and Kiona Webber (2019), Ly’Jerrick Ward (2020), Nyjah Lane and Brandy Matthews (2021), and Dionne Lipscomb (2022).

According to the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) website, DFI is a statutorily authorized program that directly addresses educational disparities in educational attainment by race, ethnicity, income and region. The goal of DFI is to increase the number of minority full-time tenure track faculty and staff at Illinois’ two- and four-year public and private colleges and universities by providing financial assistance to students with demonstrated financial need to assist them in completing graduate degree programs.

DFI Fellow recipients are strongly encouraged to actively seek and accept full-time employment in the education sector in the State of Illinois for a period at least equal to the number of years they spent as a DFI Fellow. In addition, program administrators work with higher education institutions like EIU to offer workshops and pursue other outreach opportunities that meet the goals and objectives of the initiative.

EIU prepares students to accomplish their life goals through a combination of quality academics, personal relationships, and both on-campus and online learning opportunities. For more information about Eastern Illinois University, including its broad array of academic and career readiness programs, or any of EIU’s other community-based services and opportunities, visit eiu.edu or call EIU’s public information office at (217) 581-7400.

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