Rockford Club Scholarship - NIU - College of Business
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NIU Rockford Club

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David & Diane Graf Rockford Endowed Scholarship

Through the generosity of the alumni of the College of Business and David & Diane Graf, the business leaders of tomorrow are getting a financial boost to assure their educational success.

Under the NIU Rockford Club's direction, scholarships have been awarded since 2005 to both incoming freshman and transfer students who are residents of the greater Rockford area (Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, and Stephenson counties). view all recipients...

2015 Award Recipients

Connor Johnson
2015 David & Diane Graf Rockford Endowed Scholarship Recipient

Connor was selected for the David and Diane Graf Rockford Freshman Scholarship because of his remarkable community service record and commitment to his academics. During his time at Harlem High School, Connor volunteered at St. Bridget’s Catholic Church teaching religious education classes, Camp Winnebago as an apprentice counselor, several summer theater programs, St. Bridget Youth Ministry, and Job Shadow Days with State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato. Connor also participated in the Voices of Harlem, Math Team, National Honors Society, International Thespian Society, Choraleers, IMEA District, and Rock Valley Children’s Choir. He was also named Rotary Student of the Month in November 2014 and a 2015 Illinois State Scholar. During his time as a Huskie, Connor will be a finance major and aspires to work in corporate finance.

Caleb Damon
2015 David & Diane Graf Rockford Endowed Scholarship Recipient


Caleb was selected for the David and Diane Graf Rockford Freshman Scholarship because of his stellar academic performance and dedication to community service. During high school, Caleb was a three-sport athlete and participated in cross country, track and field, and bowling. He was also involved in Key Club, Science Olympiad, and National Honor Society, where he served as the committee liaison. He was also a part of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizens Program and an Illinois State Scholar. Caleb will begin his first semester at NIU in the fall as a finance major. He hopes to one day be a financial analyst.

Nicholas Valenzuela
2015 David & Diane Graf Rockford Endowed Scholarship Recipient

Nicholas was selected for the David and Diane Graf Rockford Freshman Scholarship because of his outstanding participation in extracurricular activities and leadership roles during his high school career. He participated in Reduce the Use of Drugs in Everyone (R.U.D.E.), pit orchestra, intramural ultimate Frisbee, ILMEA Jazz Festival, wind ensemble, jazz band, high school marching band, several school productions, and Tri-M music honor society. He was selected to perform at the ILMEA Jazz Festival as well as a section leader in the high school band. He also was involved with Key Club and volunteered at the Phantom Regiment. At NIU, Nicholas hopes to stay involved with music as well as major in marketing to work towards a career in non-profit management.

Kyle Graff
2015 David & Diane Graf Rockford Endowed Scholarship Recipient

A graduate of Belvidere North High School, Kyle was selected for the David and Diane Graf Rockford Freshman Scholarship because of his impressive leadership abilities. Caleb demonstrated leadership potential by serving as the captain of the cross country and track and field teams, treasurer of Science National Honor Society, president of W-Club, and secretary of Business Professionals of America. He also was an honors student all four years of high school and was awarded the Prairie State Achievement Award. He also spent ample time serving his community at the Special Olympics, Track and Field Day, and Homecoming Bags Tournament. At NIU, Kyle will be an accountancy major.

2014 Award Recipients

Bridget Barry
2014 David & Diane Graf Rockford Endowed Scholarship Recipient

Bridget Barry

Bridget Barry was selected as a 2014 David & Diane Graf Rockford Endowed Scholarship recipient based on her strong extra-curricular involvement, academic achievement, and drive towards career success. Bridget is a 2014 graduate from Forrestville Valley High School where she was a four year, 3 sport athlete, a member of the band for four years, and on the A and B honor roll every year. Bridget also served as treasurer of Future Farmers of America (FFA).

Bridget excels professionally as a cashier and waitress, in addition to a care giver for children. She believes holding a job helps to learn responsibility and dedication.

While attending NIU, Bridget plans to major in accounting – a subject she finds enjoyable with her strong interest and skillset in mathematics. She would like to one day own her own private practice. Bridget is energized to take what she learns at NIU and use it to make an impact and improvement in the professional world.

Grace Krienke
2014 David & Diane Graf Rockford Endowed Scholarship Recipient

Grace Krienke

Grace Krienke was selected as a 2014 David & Diane Graf Rockford Endowed Scholarship recipient based on her academic achievement, exceptional leadership experience, and the numerous awards and nominations she received. Grace is a 2014 graduate from Hononegah High School where she participated in a variety of extra-curricular activities, including, math club, a mentor program, student council, and tennis. Grace was a member of the National Honor Society (NHS) and was notably nominated for a multitude of teacher-nominated awards. Her achievements set her apart as a leader among her peers.

Outside of school, Grace was employed at First National Bank & Trust Company.

Grace describes herself as “a leader with the responsibility to do what is right, even when it is not the ‘cool’ thing to do.” She believes leadership is an act of character in which we are brought up with, and she tries to display leadership qualities in everything she does. While attending NIU, Grace plans to study accounting and work hard – striving to make changes in the world around her along with reaching her full potential.