Four Quincy University students, Abbigail Milhauser ’20, Kennedy Alyx Wilkins ’20, Emma Cunningham ’20 and Autumn Lucas ’20 have been awarded the Grow Your Own Scholarship.

Left to right: Emma Cunningham, Abbigail Milhauser, Autumn Lucas, Kennedy Alyx Wilkins and Dr. Glenda McCarty.

The Grow Your Own Rural Teacher Education Program (GYO) provides scholarship opportunities to students interested in pursuing a degree in education and are willing to stay and teach within the 10-county region surrounding Quincy.

“Being a teacher gives me the opportunity to give back to the community that allowed me to get to where I am now. Through teaching, I can give area students the encouragement and skills they need to pursue their goals,” said Emma Cunningham.

Quincy University’s School of Education was awarded a $24,950 grant from the Tracy Family Foundation to pilot the new program. The program, under the leadership of Dr. Glenda McCarty, director of teacher education, focuses on teacher candidate retention and early support in the field post-graduation.

The Teacher Shortages: What We Know report, produced by the Education Commission of the States (May 2016), acknowledges the struggle rural schools face in attracting and retaining highly qualified teachers. The GYO scholarship, given in the junior and senior year, can help the University retain more students and ultimately increase the number of students graduating with a degree in education and staying to teach in the rural communities surrounding Quincy.

“I desire to teach in this area because of the sense of community present here. I am excited for the opportunity to teach the next generation of community leaders,” said Abbigail Milhauser

In addition to the scholarship award, the winners will stay an additional three weeks in the summer to participate in training and teach in the Grow Your Own Summer Institute. The institute serves both to boost teacher candidate experience and knowledge, and to provide additional enrichment opportunities for area youth.

“I want to teach in this community because of how family-oriented everything is. Family is a big part of who I am, so I want to teach in a community that values family as much as I do,” said Kennedy Wilkins.

The winners will also benefit from the post-graduation mentoring program. Approximately one-third of all teachers leave the teaching profession in less than three years, and almost half of all teachers leave teaching within five years. The addition of this program will allow for critical support in the first year of teaching, especially in the rural communities that do not have new teacher mentor programs in place.

“As I grew up, I was inspired by the teachers in this area,” said Autumn Lucas. “I would love nothing more than to teach in my hometown and inspire students as I have been inspired.”

Franciscan friars, Quincy University ( is a Catholic, co-educational, residential university offering undergraduate, graduate, and adult education programs that integrate liberal arts, active learning, practical experience, and Franciscan values. Quincy University’s intercollegiate sports are members of the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Valley Conference for men and women. For more information, please contact the Quincy University Office of Community Relations by calling (217) 228-5275.