Mandy Watson ’01 often wanted to hit the snooze button, sleep in and skip her 8 a.m. class.
She never did.
“I had a lot of fun at Wesleyan—don’t get me wrong—but I got up to go to class every day because I felt like I wasn’t in it alone,” Mandy said 20 years after graduating from IWU. “I wanted to make worthwhile the investment I felt people had put into me.”
Like 95% of IWU students today,Mandy arrived on campus with a financial aid package. She was the recipient of a State Farm Foundation Scholarship and, as a senior, became the first-ever recipient of the Bruce Callis Endowed Scholarship.
Founded by the Callis family to honor their late family patriarch, a successful State Farm executive and member of the Illinois Wesleyan Associates, the Callis Endowed Scholarship was—and remains—designated with preference for a student from McLean County with financial need.
A graduate of Normal (Illinois) Community High School, Mandy fit the bill.
“Those were the parameters we asked the University to look at in awarding the scholarship,” said Kevin Callis ’85, one of three siblings to attend IWU. “And Mandy was a great first recipient.”
Fast forward 20 years and Mandy has a successful career as a corporate counsel at Caterpillar Inc. She’s still appreciative of the financial support she received as a student at IWU and, in 2019, decided to pay it forward by funding the Watson Annual Scholarship.
“I’m at a position now where I can do such a thing,” Mandy said. “I want others to have the experience I had and grow their opportunities in life.”
Nobody could be happier with Mandy’s decision than the Callis family.
“I know Dad would be pleased,” Kevin said. “My mother, Nancy, is thrilled to know that not only does our scholarship continue to have an impact and help someone, but that it has now inspired someone to help another.”
Kevin said he hopes others will consider doing the same.
“We should all pause and think about what was special about our time at Wesleyan and remind ourselves what it means to where we are today and how it helped enable our success,” he said. “And then we should think about the opportunities we have to share that with another, to put someone else in those special moments—perhaps someone who might not make it if not for a little help—and then take time to act, reach out and learn about opportunities to do that.”
Create Opportunities for Success
You can create life-changing opportunities—and inspire others to pay it forward—through a gift to IWU in your estate plan. To learn about your giving options, contact Steve Seibring '81 at 309-556-3135 or email@example.com today.