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Engineering Visionary Scholarship Helps Jacob Perakis’ Family Triple Their Educational Possibilities

9/10/2019 1:50:37 PM

Jacob Perakis
Jacob Perakis
Sarah and George Perakis faced a financial challenge a few years ago: Triplets heading to college.

But one of those triplets, Jacob, found some help for his parents through the generosity of The Grainger College of Engineering’s Engineering Visionary Scholarship (EVS) fund.

Jacob Perakis was awarded an EVS and enrolled at Illinois Computer Science. Now he’s due to graduate in 2021.

“Receiving this scholarship is actually the major factor that influenced my decision to enroll,” Perakis said. “No other school that I applied to was as generous.”

The Engineering Visionary Scholarship fund, which is managed by The Grainer College of Engineering, provides large, renewable scholarships to students across the college, including Computer Science students.

Through December 2019, the Grainger Foundation will match gifts to the EVS initiative and other endowed scholarship funds such as the Computer Science Visionary Scholarship fund through the Grainger Matching Challenge. It provides the opportunity for donors to double their gifts, or quadruple them if their employer offers a matching-gift program.

Perakis, who is from the Chicago suburb of Bollingbrook, didn’t have any CS experience from high school, since his school offered no classes in the subject.

But he was always good at math and problem-solving, and was introduced the CS while researching the subject with his father and his brother, Joshua.

“My favorite and strongest class was AP Calculus BC, so having a strong math background helped me make my decision,” he said. “The challenge of going into a field without much background experience was enticing to me!”

Once on campus, he found confidence while taking CS 126, Software Design Studio.

“That was the class where I finally felt confident in my coding abilities with what I learned here at school,” he said.

Now all three Perakis siblings are on campus – Joshua in Computer Science, as well, and their sister, Jamie, in Biology.

The scholarship gives Jacob Perakis the financial freedom – and time – to be part of campus life to a greater degree than he otherwise would be able to, he said. He is a member of Blacks and African Americans in Computing, 100 Strong with the Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center, and the National Society of Black Engineers.

But most importantly, Perakis’ Engineering Visionary Scholarship provided a way for his parents to realistically see to it that all three of their triplets get a great education.

“This scholarship made it possible for my family to send me, my brother, and my sister to college for an affordable price,” Perakis said. “We are on track to be the first in our family to complete a college degree.”