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Patricia Cassin-Graft Student Teacher Assistance Fund Award

Patricia Cassin-Graft, Class of 1957, and Michael J. Graft, Sr. have established the Patricia Cassin-Graft Student Teacher Assistance Fund at National Louis University. The fund is a permanent endowment that has been funded by generous donations from the Graft family and other donors. The fund is meant to assist candidates who are dedicated to teaching in under-served schools, who face financial stress and who recognize the importance of the philanthropic values that have made these funds available.

Currently, the committee seeks to assist graduate or undergraduate candidates who are about to complete their final term of student teaching requirements. This scholarship can provide funds of over $4,000 to cover the cost of tuition for the student’s student teaching term.  The fund does not provide cash awards. Recipients of the award receive a credit to their account at National Louis University to offset the cost of tuition during their final term of student teaching. 

The committee looks for candidates of exceptional talent who: a) are committed to teaching in low income communities; b) show promise of becoming highly qualified teachers and role models in the Chicago, Illinois region; and c) have significant financial need.

Students who are interested in being considered must meet the following eligibility guidelines:

  • Submit completed application by the deadline, Wednesday, January 20, 2021.
  • Be a full or part-time degree candidate concentrating in Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle Grades, Secondary, or Special Education.
  • Maintain a grade point average of 3.25 or higher.
  • Completion of all pre-requisite courses for student teaching by the time student teaching begins.
  • Candidates applying by the SJanuary 20, 2021 deadline must have Content Test passing scores on file with NLU.
    • Note: There will be a second application deadline in January 2021.  Candidates applying for the January 2021 deadline must have Content Test passing scores on file with NLU to be considered.
  • Submit one letter of recommendation from an NLU faculty member or adjunct faculty member who has had you in at least one class within the last 12 months.  The letter should be emailed by the professor directly to by the Wednesday, January 20, 2021 deadline.
  • Submit an essay describing your aspirations and financial needs.
  • Complete the 2020-2021 FAFSA and demonstrate financial need as assessed by the University’s financial aid office.
  • Confirm your intention to teach in the Chicago Public Schools or other high-need, low-income schools where the need for teachers is the greatest.

 NOTE: Students in a residency program are ineligible for this scholarship.


To be considered for this award the candidate should prepare an original written narrative that includes all of the following topics in the order presented below:

PERSONAL: Your name and Student ID


  • Why you want to teach
  • Your favorite age group to teach, and why
  • Your favorite subject to teach, and why


  • Why you want to teach in an under-served school
  • What you think your biggest challenge in the classroom will be as a new teacher and how you will overcome that challenge
  • Why you think you should be selected among the other applicants who meet the criteria for this scholarship
  • How you will sustain your commitment to teaching
  • How you will "pay it forward" if you receive an award


  • A description of any off campus volunteer work or causes in which you have participated over the last two years
  • Description of other scholarships or awards received in the past


  • A general description of the financial need you will face during your student teaching
  • A general description of other financial resources available to you, and other financial obligations that you have


  • Any additional information that you think may be useful for consideration
  • Note on essays: Typographical, grammatical, and editorial quality of essays are weighed as a reflection, in part, of an applicant’s ability to communicate and teach language and communication skills. 

    If you need assistance writing your essay, you can make an appointment to meet with a writing specialist using the online request form or submit your essay for review through the drop-off essay review online submission form.Contact Learning Support at or by phone at 800-443-5522 x3374 with questions. The deadline to request essay assistance is Wednesday, January 13, 2021.

  • Applicants may email Suzanne Martinez at or Lesley Niggemann, Administrative Coordinator, at, for questions.

  • Finalists will be asked to interview in person with University representatives and the Graft family in early 2021. There will be one interview date scheduled for selected applicants. No rescheduled interviews will be conducted.

  • Recipients of the award may be asked to participate on an occasional basis in special events.


STEP 2: The Resume

You must submit a resume that includes your contact information, including the name and phone numbers of your current place of employment, if you are employed.  Your resume is an opportunity to highlight any accomplishments that make you an ideal merit scholarship recipient. Examples of additional resume sections might include Honors, Activities, Achievements, Foreign Languages Spoken or Volunteer Experience.

The Career Bridge Office can assist with resume writing. Contact them at or 312-261-3270 to schedule a resume review or log directly into Handshake ( to make an appointment with a career advisor for resume review. To ensure all students who would like assistance are able to be serviced, resume reviews will not be scheduled after Wednesday, January 13, 2021.

STEP 3: Letter of Recommendation from an NLU Faculty Member

You must submit one letter of recommendation from an NLU faculty member or adjunct faculty member who has had you in at least one class within the last 12 months.  The letter should be emailed by the professor directly to by the Wednesday, January 20, 2021 deadline.


STEP 4: The Application

The application deadline for candidates who will student teach in winter or spring 2021 term is Wednesday, January 20, 2021Please note: Content Tests must be passed and on file with NLU prior to applying for this award.

For more information about this scholarship and to complete the application, please visit:

All submitted applications will receive an acknowledgement email confirming receipt. If you do not receive a response to your application within one business day, it is your responsibility to contact us so that we can work together to identify the issue.

Only complete applications will be reviewed.  All application materials including the online application, essay, letter of recommendation and resume must be submitted by the application deadline for the term for which you intend to student teach.  The decisions of the scholarship committee are final.  

Students in a residency program are ineligible for this scholarship.


Please Note: This scholarship requires U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status. Undocumented students who reside in Illinois and who meet the scholarship criteria may apply if they have financial need.  In order for NLU to assess need, undocumented students must complete the State of Illinois Alternative Application for the MAP Grant, read more here. International students who meet the criteria may apply to receive the NLU Alumni Scholarship.  NLU scholarships may only be used towards tuition charges and are not refundable to the student.  Students must adhere to all University policies noted in the Catalog in order to remain eligible to receive NLU scholarships.


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