Thirteen E-Rabs awarded with the “Illinois State Scholar” title

Braulio Saucedo, People Editor

According to, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission is a state agency dedicated to helping Illinois students and their families make post-secondary education affordable and accessible. This organization awards this title to high school seniors who are in the top ten percent in the state’s graduating senior class. Students in nearly all of the state’s high schools compete in this program. To those who receive the award, it is truly a great academic achievement.

  “I received a newsletter and email, and I had no idea that the program existed or even was a thing,” said Miguel Melo Bustos, award recipient class of 2019.

  Out of the 21,000 awarded scholars this year, thirteen of them were East seniors from the graduating class of 2019. This year, East’s Illinois State Scholars are Muna Alshoja, Lorinda Arbogast, Grace Berlage, Taylor Byrd, Kelsey Cunningham, Madeline Grobe, Jake Hill, Sophia Janicki, Tommy Le, Miguel Melo Bustos, Jeremiah Pearson, Angela Perez Dominguez, and Emilie Weisser. To become a state scholar, students must meet certain requirements and go through a selection process to become a finalist and receive the title .

  According to, to become eligible to win the award, scholars must meet the following requirements set by ISAC. Scholars must attend an approved high school and graduate during the year they were awarded the title, be an Illinois resident and a U.S citizen or eligible non-citizen. They must also have taken the ACT or SAT during the third semester prior to graduation, and lastly, scholars must score in the 95th percentile on the test and perform in the top one-half of their high school class. Students don’t apply for this program. High schools send the data to ISAC, which then hands out the title if they are finalists.

  Once the requirements are met, scholars are eligible to win the award and are put through a process of selection. The Illinois Student Assistance Commission uses a formula to determine the finalists. It is a combination of exam scores, class rank (or unweighted GPA) and class size. Congratulatory letters are then sent to the finalists, which usually are sent out after Nov. 2. Although only a few receive this title, there is no limit of titles given per academic year, and they usually vary over the years.

   “It makes me happy, and it’s an honor to receive such a title. I didn’t know what it was at first, but then I got to school and saw the list of those who received the award posted outside of the office. I thought to myself, ‘This is something big.”’

    “I have put so much effort and hard work these past three years, and it’s nice to see that all the hard work has paid off in some way,” said Angela Perez Dominguez, award recipient.

  So far, a substantial amount of information on how to become a state scholar was provided, but what does it mean to be named an Illinois State Scholar, you may ask? The recipients of this title don’t receive monetary aid, but instead bear the title as a highlight in their academic record. Such title often comes with more financial aid or opportunities to receive scholarships.

  “It is quite an honor and recognition, and it looks pretty good in the [academic] resume of those who receive the title,” said Kristen Hunt, counselor at East high school.

  The thirteen award-winning E-Rabs will receive a certificate presented to them on awards night in the spring.