The Stars Aligned for Maria Sanchez

Dec. 17, 2018—When college student Maria Sanchez took a part-time job at The Admiral at the Lake to help pay for her education, you might say she hit the trifecta—tuition reimbursement, a scholarship and a mentor in her field of study.

Maria moved to the northside of Chicago during the second semester of her sophomore year at Roosevelt University, and she was happy to find a job nearby at The Admiral. Taking a combination of morning classes and online courses allows Maria to work five or six afternoons a week as a server.

Little did Maria know that she would be one of the first five beneficiaries of the new Admiral Education Assistance Program for staff.

“This is the first time in The Admiral’s history that we’ve been able to do this as an employer, by using dollars set aside in our operating budget, and as a community, using funds raised by residents, staff and Board members,” says Admiral CEO Nadia Geigler. “The support given to staff who applied and met the criteria for the program is intended to help reimburse them for tuition, as well as other education-related expenses, such as books, lab fees, technology and transportation.”

What’s more, when Maria applied for an AEAP award, she learned she was eligible for a Roosevelt University scholarship funded by Admiral residents Richard and Marjorie Ettlinger.

“It was a wonderful coincidence,” says Bruce Rigdon, the resident who chairs the AEAP. “Before we had even received Education Assistance Program applications, one of the members of our committee told us that she and her husband had established a scholarship at Roosevelt University. When we discovered that Maria was actually attending Roosevelt, we got in touch with the University to see whether the Ettlinger scholarship could be given to her. So, she received our education assistance award and the scholarship at Roosevelt.”

Richard Ettlinger, who graduated from Roosevelt University in 1948 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, and his wife, Marjorie, have long been supporters of Roosevelt University, its values and its mission. In 1998, the couple established the Marjorie N. and Richard L. Ettlinger Endowed Scholarship to “provide annual scholarships to inner-city undergraduate students attending Roosevelt’s downtown Chicago campus.”

“I worked the day after I found out I got the scholarship, so I made sure I was able to thank them personally,” Maria says. “When I saw Marjorie Ettlinger, I hugged her and said, ‘Thank you so much for this opportunity. You don’t really know me, but you and your husband have given me a chance to continue my education.’”

The Ettlingers had originally funded the scholarship to provide remedial aid to unprepared inner-city students. “We felt Roosevelt offered individual attention and stimulating education, and we could provide funds for this population,” Marjorie says. “Now that we are at The Admiral and the community colleges seem to be providing remedial aid, we decided to add the stipulation that preference for the scholarship be given to Admiral employees. We didn’t know Maria, but we are delighted … that she was already enrolled at Roosevelt and an outstanding student.”

Maria is majoring in both psychology and criminal justice and plans to get a master’s degree and her doctorate in clinical psychology with a concentration in forensics. She currently is engaged in the McNair Scholars Program, a federally funded initiative that prepares low-income, first-generation and/or other underrepresented students to successfully navigate a path to a doctorate. McNair students benefit from a mentoring program, summer research programs and presenting research at professional conferences.

Maria says that another Admiral resident, who is still a practicing psychologist, has become a mentor to her. Dr. David Rosenthal suggested that she apply for an AEAP award, Maria says, and she recently invited him to speak at a psychology student honor society event on campus.

“Dr. Rosenthal has been a really big inspiration for me,” Maria says. “All of the residents have been very, very supportive, and I’m very thankful to be part of The Admiral community.”

Toni Smith, who chairs the residents’ Lifelong Learning Committee, also is a member of the Education Assistance Program Committee. Toni says many residents had expressed interest in providing some sort of “scholarship” help for staff members and the AEAP program was in part a response to them.

“A great many residents, most of whom are college-educated, think that education is important and that this is a great way to help the staff who care for us,” Toni says. “We all want this to be a workplace of choice and one with minimal staff turnover,” she adds, “and this might be a deciding factor for some.”