Many Dreams. One Mission.

Spring/Summer 2010
next story >>

Many Dreams. One Mission.

A little girl dreams she'll become president of the United States. A high school junior feels he's "ready for business." A young man envisions a wall covered with his diplomas. A 6-year-old pursues her dreams on a softball field.

Yesterday, they were dreamers. Today, they are students at DePaul University working hard to turn their dreams into reality.

On May 20, DePaul University announced the public phase of the largest capital campaign in its 111-year history. The Many Dreams, One Mission Campaign for DePaul University will raise $250 million to enhance, expand and assure DePaul's ability to deliver on its founding promise: to help make dreams come true by providing an excellent education for any talented student who seeks it.

The Many Dreams, One Mission Campaign will invest $100 million to bolster resources for student financial assistance; direct $37 million to faculty support; put $38 million toward new, optimized educational facilities, including much-needed Theatre and Music venues in Lincoln Park; and dedicate $75 million to new and enhanced programs of community outreach and impact.

Heading into the public phase, leadership gifts to the campaign already totaled $165 million. A campaign of this magnitude marks DePaul's emergence as one of the leading private universities in the nation, a national model for academic excellence and its success in maintaining its founding commitment to support for first-generation college students and those from diverse economic and ethnic backgrounds.

Serving Dreams, Building Mission

DePaul is fertile ground for dreamers who become doers. Scholarships create opportunities for students who may otherwise not be able to afford college. Dedicated and highly trained faculty members provide students with the skills and inspiration to fulfill their dreams. A rich array of DePaul programs offers students life and professional experiences their parents could never even imagine. State-of-the-art learning environments on campus prepare DePaul's students for tomorrow's workplaces.

DePaul University has a history of creating transformations, beginning with St. Vincent de Paul's work to improve the quality of life for people at the margins of society 350 years ago.

Today, DePaul University manifests that mission by providing opportunities for students to fulfill their dreams through a high-quality, values-based education.

DePaul students come from all walks of life, but there is one commonality: a vision of a full, productive life through the power and excellence of a DePaul education. Here are a few stories about DePaul students. We hope you will bear them in mind as we enter in a campaign effort that belongs to all of us in the DePaul community.

To the White House

Marisol Becerra, the girl who dreamed of being president, made it to the White House in record time–serving there as a 2009 summer intern before her junior year began at DePaul last fall. "Once I got to the White House, I remembered that as a child I always wanted to be there, and at such a young age–20 years old–I was already fulfilling my dream," she says.

She started early. While in high school in her Chicago neighborhood of Little Village, Becerra became an environmental activist. "There is a coal power plant about four blocks from where I live, and as I was growing up, I always thought of it as the 'cloud factory,'" she says.

"A group of students in my community took the initiative to document the acids and the toxins. We found out all the great things that are in our community and how that can help each resident, but additionally we looked at the hazards in our community, and that included industries, violence and the lack of green space for children to play in, so we based our campaign on the observations.

"So far, we've got a federal lawsuit against the coal power plants in Illinois, so that's a huge major step, but we still have to find out what happens after the suit," Becerra says.

As a high school student, Becerra ran into Associate Professor Kelly Tzoumis, director of DePaul's public policy studies program, who was conducting a community-based service-learning class in Little Village for DePaul students.

"I saw the group of students there, and I didn't know that a class on environmental justice existed in any university, even though that was what I was working on all through my high school years. So, knowing that DePaul had that, I felt relieved," Becerra says. "I felt that DePaul valued that aspect of policy that my community has been working so hard to achieve. And so for that reason I chose to apply to DePaul."

At DePaul, Becerra is acquiring the skills to excel in her profession. As she learns to apply her studies in geography and statistics to environmental analyses, she is inspired to do research that will "help people understand–not just professionals in environmental studies, but the community," she says. She values the academic support she has and says that DePaul offers much to help students succeed, "especially first-generation students who are new to university work."

Becerra's passion and hard work for environmental justice positioned her for opportunities and honors. She traveled to South Korea as part of the United Nations Youth Conference, was elected one of two student representatives from North America to the U.N. Environment Programme, won a national Earth Island Institute Brower Youth Award for environmental and social justice advocacy, and received a Bill and Melinda Gates scholarship.

Through a public policy class on international climate policy, Becerra also went to Copenhagen to take part in U.N. negotiations, an experience she describes as "life-changing."

Looking toward the future, she thinks that she would rather run the Environmental Protection Agency than run the country–after she earns her doctorate and secures a research post at a university. Becerra says that the financial support that she received from DePaul and other sources, including those that will help with graduate school, is crucial to her dreams.

"Education has a price, and that price is very high. Being able to get those gifts really helped me achieve my dream. Without that help, I wouldn't be where I am today. I wouldn't be at DePaul, I wouldn't have interned at the White House, and I would not have traveled and met so many other youth who are helping me fulfill my dream–and I'm helping them fulfill their dreams, too."

Coming Full Circle

Mauricio Banuelos, a marketing and philosophy major, would agree that making dreams come true is a gift you pass along to others. At an organization where he was volunteering during high school, he met a couple of community leaders, DePaul alumni, who "were advising me on just generally anything, like how's high school going, how's your test going, how is work going–advising me from their personal experience. They told me everything about DePaul, and they were my role models, people who taught me the initial skills of leadership that I have," he says. At their urging, Banuelos applied for and received a DePaul Student Leadership Scholar award.

Today, he occasionally runs into younger students on campus whom he recognizes from a few years ago, when he was a volunteer tutor, "and I know one of the reasons they chose [DePaul] is because of some of the reasons I chose, and because of the fact I was always plugging DePaul," he says.

Banuelos was attracted to DePaul's mission of service, and, as part of his student leadership work, he participates in service and leadership activities each quarter. "It's kind of bittersweet," he says of his current experience coordinating social activities between students and residents in homes for the elderly.

"I really enjoy doing it, but at times you see the issues. It's something they share with us. At the same time, it's awesome going and talking and making the situation livelier than otherwise," he says.

As a student growing up in Chicago, Banuelos was selected for a gifted program in elementary school and earned a spot in one of the city's top high schools. In high school, he thought about marketing as a career because, as he says, "I like to sell things." Now, Banuelos is examining the idea of service–what it really means and how it fits into his career goals. "The trend is that any company that wants to survive has to have a sustainable side, they have to have a side of giving back, going green. I see that as a place where I can do both."

From time to time, he seeks the advice of one of his professors who works with University Ministry. "He's one of those great, great people who really cares about the world," Banuelos says. "He asks you one of those big, deep questions and you're left kind of sitting there. …Hopefully, I'll be coming back a few weeks later or a year later telling him, 'OK, this is what I think.'"

Great Inspirations

Vincent Stokes (CDM '01) first found his support and counsel in his family, from his Aunt Annie and then from his sister. That backing helped him in his journey from Louisiana to Michigan to Chicago, where he soon will have a master's degree in information systems from DePaul's College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM) to add to the bachelor's degree he earned.

As Stokes tells it, his Aunt Annie left the family farm in Louisiana, saying, "This is just not for me, I've got to do better." With tremendous sacrifices–not having enough to eat, living with other people–she earned four degrees and had a 40-year career teaching special education.

When he was 12, Stokes visited her Michigan home and was in awe of her huge house with its wall of degrees and plaques. "I saw her name on every one and asked her, 'Do you think I can do that?' and she said, 'Yes, you can do it if you believe in God and have faith in yourself,'" Stokes says.

Stokes eventually moved to Chicago to be in a big city and go to college in computer science, a field in which his sister was successful and had introduced to him. After he secured a job with the State of Illinois, the state's tuition support enabled him to transfer to DePaul, which he had dreamed of attending.

"I chose DePaul because I had done the research and was amazed at the diversity, the core values and beliefs at DePaul and knowing that it was one of the top computer schools in the country, and the largest Catholic school," he says.

Stokes finds that his professors are dedicated and able to impart real-world experience to their students. "DePaul is an example of how the world should work," he says. "The attention they give you, the individual attention. They meet you where you are and want you to succeed."

He rates learning how to work as a team as one of the most valuable people skills he learned in CDM. He enjoys the diversity of the college–"I meet people from all over the world"–and says the high point of his experience was a study-abroad trip to Brazil to learn about technology in emerging countries.

When he entered the master's program, Stokes applied for a Crawford scholarship. "I worked my entire way through school and paid for a good portion of my education myself, so I've maintained a high GPA and decided to check out what was available at DePaul for my master's. I got a call a few months later and Mr. Glatz [CDM's director of advising] said I had won the scholarship and it was for $5,000. I said, 'Wow, that will take care of everything else–now I can go ahead and finish my degree.' Just not having to pay back personal loans is a godsend. I am so eternally grateful for that."

Like his Aunt Annie did, Stokes gives back to the community what he has been able to learn himself. In addition to his full-time job as a systems analyst, he has volunteered for years tutoring young people in mathematics. He also believes in giving back financially. "I've always sent something [to DePaul], because I feel like somebody did it for me, so it is definitely my responsibility to pay for it," he says.

On the Ball

With all her obligations on the softball diamond, in the classroom and in the community, Becca Heteniak has more than enough responsibility for one person. But she can handle it.

She's a two-time All-American pitcher, a mathematics major and an honors program student. She manages a game schedule that requires five weekends on the road in a 10-week quarter and still keeps her grades up.

Heteniak attributes that ability to the support she has from many directions. "The fact that we have small class sizes is amazing. You get so much one-on-one support from your professors, who in so many other universities are just up there talking to you, don't even know your name or what your background is."

Her academic focus is financial mathematics, so that she can work for a corporation or as a financial advisor, and she plans to continue her education at a school where she can earn an MBA and coach softball. Heteniak values her DePaul academic advisors in the athletics program and in the math department, along with the fact that "academics is a big priority" at the university.

Unlike many schools, where different teams are competitive with each other, DePaul's athletic program is "like a family," Heteniak says. "We all support each other, and we're on each other's sides. Our AD [Jean Lenti Ponsetto] even knows everybody's name."

Heteniak was recruited from California, where she grew up with a passion for softball and never had to play indoors as she does in Chicago. But the Midwestern weather doesn't dampen her enthusiasm. "The fact that DePaul is right in the heart of the city is amazing. I learn something new every day," she says.

One of the ways Heteniak enjoys the city is through doing community service projects, which Ponsetto requires of all athletes. "We don't want to be this nameless, faceless organization where we just expect everyone to come and for us to give nothing back to them," Heteniak explains.

"During my freshman year, we did Dream Halloween to support children with AIDS. We do the breast cancer walk quite a bit. We've also been involved with a pen pal program with A.M. Fox Elementary School. They get so excited to get letters from us."

Heteniak draws a parallel between that kind of giving back and the support she receives from her scholarships. "The Vincentian mission is kind of like giving opportunity where there otherwise would not be opportunity. I definitely would not have been able to come to this university without the scholarship program that we have here. And I know a lot of people here on my team and in the athletic program and in my classes who would never have gotten the opportunity to come to a school like DePaul.

"All the students are grateful for the things that they have from the donations that are made through DePaul, and every dollar counts. It's not like it goes into the school and you never see it again. You see new programs come up. You see new classes being offered. You see new buildings come up. You see the difference that it makes."

Keeping up the Good Work

The capital campaign will create support for efforts to recruit new faculty to sustain DePaul's academic excellence in an environment with a shortage of Ph.D.-trained faculty in some fields, particularly law and commerce. The campaign also will create support for programmatic initiatives–including academic programs that prepare professionals for the marketplace; educational outreach to young students in the community; Catholic and Vincentian identity programs; and the myriad excellent programs in areas such as education, computing and digital media, intellectual property law and opera.

New at the Lincoln Park Campus

Students already are experiencing the benefits of an initial successful effort in DePaul's Many Dreams, One Mission capital campaign: the new Monsignor Andrew J. McGowan Environmental Science and Chemistry building. The state-of-the-art facility, awarded an LEED gold rating for its environmentally advanced design, draws students to biology, chemistry and environmental science programs.

The campaign further seeks to provide DePaul's nationally recognized conservatory-style performing arts programs with facilities that meet the particular academic and aesthetic requirements of excellence in the disciplines of music and theatre. DePaul's history of connecting students in these arts with the Chicago community as an eager audience will be enhanced for generations to come with these new performance spaces.

For more information on the Many Dreams, One Mission Campaign for DePaul University, visit


Jim Czech (COM '61) & Diane Czech, who both were the first in their families to go to college, met at DePaul 40 years ago. Today, they help current students fulfill their dreams and support Vincentian values through the Czech Vincentian Scholar Society Endowed Scholarship in the College of Commerce.

Bill Hay (MBA '66, DHL '06) & Mary Pat Gannon Hay (DHL '06) share a commitment to Vincentian values and artistic beauty. Their study of Vincent de Paul's life prompted a $1 million gift to establish Vincent on Leadership: The Hay Project, which fosters ethical, socially engaged leadership in the DePaul community. Their planned gift to the campaign creates the William and Mary Pat Gannon Hay Concert Hall at the School of Music.

Douglas & Cynthia Crocker believe that the best educational opportunities create a level playing field on which individuals from all backgrounds can advance and thrive. As Douglas Crocker built a career in real estate investment and taught in the College of Commerce, they came to know DePaul's mission. The Crockers endowed the directorship of the Real Estate Center and now have made a generous campaign gift for unrestricted scholarships.

Harrison Steans (DHL '05) is a prominent business leader who is respected for the ideas and resources he contributes to the well-being of society. At DePaul, he led the establishment of the Steans Center, which involves thousands of students in community service and is a model for service learning. With Sue Gin, he leads the effort to secure scholarship support for students in underserved communities. Steans and his family have committed $1 million as a challenge to alumni and friends to support scholarships for DePaul students.

Sue Gin (DHL '09) is a well-known and successful entrepreneur, innovator and philanthropist. She has co-chaired two successful fund-raising campaigns that have supported the construction of two state-of-the-art science buildings at DePaul. With Harrison Steans, she leads the effort to secure scholarship support for students in underserved communities, including those from immigrant families and others who are the first in their families to attend college.

Daniel Ustian (COM '73), CEO of Navistar International, believes in excellence and hard work, whether he is running a company or running for exercise. Maintaining that lessons learned through athletics can make a person well-rounded, he provides a scholarship that gives student-athletes a chance to make their dreams come true. DePaul, Ustian says, is one of the few schools that has learned to balance high-level academics with athletics and opportunity.

Gerald A. Beeson (COM '94) & Jennifer L. Beeson support the university's mission to serve working-class and first-generation students. Beeson's father made sacrifices to send his children to Catholic high schools and was moved to tears when his son won a scholarship to DePaul. Gerald went on to have a successful investment career. The Beesons have made a historic gift to fund scholarships at DePaul since, as Jennifer observes, DePaul is a place where one generation helps the next.

Frank M. Clark (COM '72, JD '76, LLD '04), chairman and CEO of ComEd, is committed to supporting the education of a highly trained work force to create economic vitality in Illinois. Particularly focused on math and science curricula, he co-chaired DePaul's recent initiative to construct the Monsignor Andrew J. McGowan Environmental Science and Chemistry Building and believes that DePaul does an extraordinary job of preparing students, especially women, for careers in medicine and science.

Mary A. Dempsey (JD '82) & Philip H. Corboy are committed to continuing DePaul's mission of accessibility and excellence. Dempsey is library commissioner of the City of Chicago and chair of DePaul University's Board of Trustees. She and the couple's son, Philip (JD '77), received their education at DePaul's College of Law. Dempsey and Corboy, a noted trial attorney, have made a major gift to fund the Philip Corboy and Mary Dempsey Endowed Scholarship at the law school. "Nobody is self-made," Dempsey says. "Each of us relies on others for the help and support we need to succeed."

John & Barbara Keeley give to DePaul as a tribute to a son lost too soon and to support excellence and opportunity for others. Their son Christopher graduated in 1994 and became a successful trader and vice president at his father's investment firm. He died in 2002 from a pulmonary embolism. The Keeleys have established the Christopher L. Keeley Endowed Chair in Investment Management as a generous leadership gift to the Many Dreams, One Mission campaign. They also established the Christopher L. Keeley Memorial Scholarship Fund for incoming freshmen.