Forever True, For Iowa State

Perfect timing

Iowa Staters are known for doing whatever it takes to achieve their goals. What does that look like exactly? Meet Ryan Gillispie.

The 2021 Iowa State graduate in elementary education held down a full-time job working nights at UPS while attending classes during the day – all fueled by only two hours of sleep.  

“It was a struggle to balance work and school. I didn’t know how hard it would be,” says Ryan, who is no stranger to overcoming challenges.

In middle school, Ryan was inappropriately placed in special education. Although it set him back academically, the experience ignited his passion to be a positive influence in young students’ lives.

Yet, Ryan’s Iowa State education was almost cut short. He had to quit UPS to student teach and soon ran out of money. That’s when he received the Douglas and Deborah Troxel Award. 

“The Troxel Award came at a critical time. It made it possible for me to finish my degree,” Ryan says.

Completion and emergency grants, such as the Troxel Award, help students like Ryan – who are at risk of leaving Iowa State due to finances – finish their degrees. Funding these grants was among the highest priorities of Forever True, For Iowa State, the university’s historic $1.5 billion fundraising campaign.

Support like this not only enables students like Ryan to graduate, it also promotes the difference they aim to make on the world.

“An eighth-grader in my [student teaching] class told me his parents can’t afford college,” Ryan says. “I told him mine couldn’t either but look at me now. Don’t give up. There are people who will help.”