College Tuition Fund

My name is Erica Murray.

I believe what you put into your education is what you get will get out of it. For me, my education doesn't just begin or end in the classroom. Opportunity and exposure within the classroom and beyond are equally important in setting yourself up for success. When researching and applying to universities of interest, a few things I looked for within the classroom and on campus is respected faculty and diversity amongst my peers. To learn from someone who loves what they do, as well as learning from other students with different backgrounds and opinions is something I'm strongly passionate about. In addition to my academics, my college aspirations include studying abroad, internships and a wide variety of extracurricular and volunteer activities. Youth and Government has been the most important and rewarding of all my extracurricular activities. To learn and understand how the government operates and how laws are made is so relevant and necessary, as it is something that will always impact every aspect throughout my entire life. From my personal rights as a citizen, laws which would affect my decision on whether or not to start a small business and everything in between. Last, but certainly not least I believe undergrad is part of your life journey beyond your four years of college. Where you attend for undergrad will always be a part of your life.

I will be the first generation in my dad’s family to attend college. Being from an immigrant family I feel that I can use my life experiences to help others.  I'm very involved in community service as well as leadership, clubs and organizations.  Whether I'm cooking meals at a shelter, answering phones at a telethon, decorating a church or assembling health care kits, giving back to others is a great feeling.  I want to always make time in my life for volunteer service. 


GPA: 3.96

High Honor Roll 9th – 12th

Significant Courses: French (3 & 4), Chemistry Honors, Speech & Anatomy

Clubs:  Youth and Government Legislator 11th & 12th  

National Honors Society- 10th, 11th & 12th

Art Club Member - 9th – 12th

FCCLA Club Member – 9th – 12th       

Prom Committee- 11th grade


                Winner of National Honors Society Essay Contest

            Youth and Government Legislator – passed our group bill through House & Senate

FCCLA Secretary

Track and Field


·         Inner City Mission

·         UCP United Cerebral Palsy

·         Sojourn Shelter and Services

·         Central Illinois Foodbank

·         Children's Supper Hour

·         Henson Robinson Zoo

·         Contact Ministries

·         Scholastic Book Fair

·         Food and Teen Gift Drive

My background story:

When life gives you lemons you’re supposed to make lemonade, right? What happens, though, when life wakes you up one morning and your dad is missing? Childhood quickly diminishes and you grow up.  In the spring of 2015, I woke up to the unimaginable: my mom panicked in the living room because my dad was gone. After many phone calls, we found out that when my dad took the trash out earlier that morning, per his usual morning routine, ICE agents had our house surrounded. They had arrested my dad and were processing him for deportation.

My dad was born in Ukraine and is not a US citizen. This is something that I am proud of; being the child of an immigrant. I thrive off diversity and love learning about all different cultures. I have always viewed immigration with pride and positivity. Deportation was never a thought, but now the process had begun.  We had to gather enough evidence to prove what our hardship without my dad would be.  The burden of proof was on us.  My mom and I traveled three times to Kansas City, MO for court. I was terrified to testify due to the possibility that I would say the wrong thing.  This was a real-life lesson for me to learn and to try and understand immigration laws and their complexity.

These lessons were far beyond any government classes I had taken or any of my Youth and Government activities.  This was not just a lesson, but a heavy weight to bear on my shoulders. My future life flashed before my eyes like a strobe light. If my dad was deported, would we need to move to Ukraine so our family could stay together?  I could not understand why we might need to choose between our country and our life as a family if he was deported.  It just did not seem fair.

The torture of uncertainty lasted for months. Though some days I cried, most other days I made a choice to understand. Knowledge is power and served as a form of therapy for me.  The world of immigration is fascinating, yet flawed in many ways. Months later, after a long court day in Kansas City, the immigration judge ruled favorably, allowing my dad to stay in the United States.

This is the year I truly grew up. I learned that when life throws a giant lemon straight at your face, it doesn’t matter how much it hurts.  The only thing that matters is what you make of it.  It is easy to fall apart when your world is crumbling. I stood strong alongside my family.  I prioritized my schoolwork, maintained my GPA, and pursued my interest and desire to learn more about the law. Life is full of hurdles, and while this may have been my first, it surely won’t be my last.

When I begin college, I will be the first generation in my dad's family to attend college. This is not something I take for granted, but an achievement I cannot wait to fulfill.


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Erica Murray 
Sherman, IL
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