The cost of an education can be a burden for anyone.  For senior elementary education major Alexis Gaines, it meant potentially cutting her college career short-only a year before graduation. Fortunately, her hard work at Loyola was recognized by AT&T’s pilot “Crossing the Finish Line” program, which awarded her the money she needed to complete her degree. AT&T selected Loyola as one of two schools to receive a $21,000 grant specifically for strong students with one year of study or less before their graduation. Gaines is one of several students chosen by the Financial Aid Office to receive the scholarship.

Could you tell me a little bit about your background?
I was born in Burbank, California. My dad was a dance instructor-he was in the Thriller video for Michael Jackson. My mom is a restaurant manager, and she got a job in Illinois, so when I was 8, I moved from California to Bartlett, Illinois, about an hour west of the city.

How have you been involved at Loyola?
My freshman year, I was the student secretary of Campion, so I was involved with RHA and student government, and then I moved on to be a student ambassador, so I gave tours and had overnights. Junior year, I joined The Dance Company, and I also became a peer advisor. During the summers before my junior and senior years, I was an Orientation Leader. I’m also a First-Year Companion, which I’ve done for three years.

How has the “Crossing the Finish Line” grant helped you?
I’ve worked extremely hard these past three years. When Ed [Director of Scholarships Ed Moore] told me I received a $5,000 scholarship to help me complete my degree, I cried. I was so honored and taken back. It’s going to help me follow my dreams and achieve my goals.

What are your plans after graduation?
I’ve been tossing around a couple ideas. I am really interested in doing the Disney internship program, just because I love Disney. It’s not the most conventional thing to do after graduation, but I’d love to do it. I’m also going to apply for teaching jobs anywhere. I’m willing to teach wherever. I would like to teach third, fourth, or fifth grade. In the future, I’d like to go to grad school to get a degree in social work and be a guidance counselor. I’d also love to get my doctorate and teach at the university level.

For more information about AT&T’s “Crossing the Finish Line” program and its partnership with Loyola, click here.