University News

Stephanie received a bachelor’s degree in Fashion Merchandising in 2008 and a master’s degree in Sport Management in 2011.
[Download Print-Quality Image]

Chris received his Broadcasting & Journalism bachelor’s degree from WIU in 2014.
[Download Print-Quality Image]

Brian received a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Political Science, with a minor in Communication in 2015.
[Download Print-Quality Image]

WIU Family of Alums Give Back with Scholarship Endowment

April 24, 2023

Printer friendly version

MACOMB/MOLINE, IL - - Western Illinois University alumni Stephanie, Brian and Chris Lovingood recently donated $25,000 to Western Illinois University to start an endowed scholarship fund for underrepresented students in minority communities.

"We really wanted to encourage and support the next generation of transformation leaders by seeking to nurture outstanding students' academic and professional careers," said Stephanie.

The Lovingood family has spent much of their adult lives career-focused and giving back to their communities.

"My family and I decided to give back to WIU because we know what it's like to have to balance and juggle so many different things in our personal lives, whether through our achievements, relationships or unwind time, and how much it can mean to have some assistance to help us achieve our individual goals," said Chris.

The Lovingood Family Scholarship endowment will support racial minorities or foreign exchange students at any stage in their college career across all majors who meet the GPA requirement of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

"WIU is so proud to call Brian, Chris and Stephanie Lovingood alumni," said Director of Development Liz Nolte. "They made an impact as dynamic students and have been extremely successful in their respective careers. I am grateful for their generosity in turning their Leatherneck experience and pride into a legacy that will no doubt boost and inspire the next generation. It is rare that we have younger alumni establish endowed funds, and their endowed scholarship speaks to their belief in the Western experience and commitment to paying it forward. I hope their story inspires others to give back and do the same."

All natives of Peoria, IL, the Lovingoods grew up in a family of 11 children.

Stephanie pursued her athletic career on the women's basketball team at WIU, graduating in 2008 with her bachelor's degree in Fashion Merchandising. Following graduation from WIU, Stephanie pursued goals outside of the country as she moved to London, England to participate in a study abroad program.

"While working and living in London was an astonishing experience, I missed playing basketball and moved to Denmark to play professional basketball," she said. " I returned to WIU in 2011 to complete a master's degree in Sport Management.

At the time, Stephanie was working in St. Louis, MO, for the St. Louis Rams and commuting to campus weekly for classes. Stephanie moved to Chicago for four years and worked for the Women's Basketball Association, leaving in 2014 to work for the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury in Phoenix, AZ.

"We wouldn't have been able to do what we do now in our careers without the courses we took at WIU," she said. "I encourage students to never settle for anything. Continue to have a growth mindset and always challenge yourself. It's not growing pains; it's growing gains."

Brian graduated in 2015, with bachelor's and master's degrees in Political Science, and a minor in Communication. Brian joined the Air National Guard and served with the 182nd AW based in Peoria, IL, in 2001. He has since worked his way to Senior Master Sergeant and became a commissioned officer in 2017.

"Growing up and having traveled the world, I've learned that all of us aren't born equal. A child has no choice over where they're born, the color of their skin, gender or how much money their family has," he said. "Nothing is more inspiring than a child with the drive to be better, and to learn, but lack of resources can hinder that ambition and, as that ambition fades, so does their chance to achieve the American dream, and that starts with an education."

Brian now resides in Panama City, FL, and was recently promoted to Captain, serving at First Air Force at Tyndall Air Force Base, where the mission is to keep the homeland safe.

"WIU gave me the knowledge to question why things are the way they are and instilled a drive in me to not just accept things as they are but look for ways to make things better," he said. " I would tell students to want to learn for something bigger than yourself. If you only want to learn to make money and obtain material things, it will show in your work, relationships and the heights you can reach. When you learn for something greater than yourself, your drive is stronger, different; it has purpose and creates a motivation in you that you can do anything. That feeling is infectious, and it will influence those around you. Also, when you do have the ability to, give back. You never know how you will change a person's life and put them on a trajectory that will change the course of their life, their family's lives, their community … give back.

Christopher, an Emmy and Murrow Award-winning anchor, received his Broadcasting & Journalism bachelor's degree from WIU in 2014.

"Being born into a large family including siblings who had such athletic prowess often made me feel like I needed to find something to make myself stand out among the others," he said. "I chose WIU because my sister, Stephanie, seemed to have a great education at the university, and so I looked into the broadcasting program there and decided to become a Leatherneck, as well."

Since starting his career in 2014 with WEEK-TV, Peoria, IL, Chris has won awards, covered Hurricane Irma and major political events, written a book and more.

"WIU taught me to take chances and be bold in pursuing new heights," he said. "I would encourage WIU students to spend their time wisely when in class and lean on their classmates to create projects that add to their portfolio. I also recommend you enjoy your time in college and keep your wits about you because you never know who could be watching."

The Lovingood trio enjoys traveling, the outdoors, family time and giving back to their communities.

The Lovingoods encourage others to consider supporting WIU and leaving a legacy.

"We started the endowed scholarship to bridge the lack of generational wealth in minority communities," said Stephanie. "We hope that we can be a part of their journey and maybe they will give back and provide opportunities to support needs later. If you play even just a small part in someone's educational success, why wouldn't you take that up?"

For more information about the Lovingood Family Scholarship, contact the WIU Scholarship office at (309) 298-2001 or

Posted By: Lexi Yoggerst (
Office of University Communications & Marketing