CME Group Foundation Invests in Illinois Tech Sextet

Six Computer Science Students Receive Scholarship, Learn About Potential Future in Finance



By Casey Moffitt
CME Group Foundation Invests in Illinois Tech Sextet

Six computer science students from Illinois Institute of Technology are the beneficiaries of generous scholarships from the CME Group Foundation that are greatly easing their financial burden of pursuing higher education while also helping them carve out their future careers in finance.

The CME Group Foundation’s Scholars Program provides recipients with up to $20,000 per year, renewable for up to three years, to support the six winners’ education. Anthony Banuelos (CS 2nd Year), Estefania Lopez (CS 3rd Year), David Ngige (CS 3rd Year), Hernan Razo (CS 3rd Year), Carlos Rodriguez (CS 3rd Year), and Gladys Toledo-Rodriguez (CS 2nd Year) each received a scholarship.

Many of the students say the scholarship provides relief from tuition costs, allowing them to concentrate on their studies.

“I knew immediately that I had to apply for this scholarship when I saw it,” Banuelos says. “It was the perfect opportunity to help me take a load off my parents, which I am extremely grateful for as they have been helping pay off my current expenses. I felt like it was going to be too much, and it stressed me out to know my parents had to help me pay for college after already helping my two older siblings, and eventually are going to help my three younger siblings.

“I want the best for my family, and I believe that with this load off my shoulders I can focus more on my studies,” Banuelos adds. “I will work very hard to prove that I deserve this scholarship so I can renew it for the next three years.”

“With the scholarship I already had with Illinois Tech, I have less of a worry about loans,” Toledo-Rodriguez says. “With this scholarship, the rest of my tuition would be paid off with no loans.”

The students say the scholarship has them excited about applying their computer science skills toward a career in finance—something they had not considered before—and also will provide them access to real-world experience.

“The financial industry is flooded with data, and it would be an ideal opportunity for me to get started in this career path,” Razo says. “Data analytics, forecasting, and machine-learning algorithms are some of the many applications of data science that can benefit companies in finance. I see this as an open door to exercise the subjects I already have interest in.”

“The scholarship will greatly help me in the experiential learning side of my studies,” Rodriguez says. “A component of the scholarship is the access to internship opportunities, and I am very excited to build my relationship with the CME Group. This scholarship and its supplemental help with my professional development through an internship experience will be very helpful to kick off my career.”

The purpose of the CME Group Foundation Scholars Program is to provide support for college students of underrepresented identities who have financial needs, are studying in a STEM field, and are interested in careers in the finance industry. 

Illinois Tech’s Stuart School of Business has cultivated a strong relationship with the CME Group Foundation over the years through the leadership of John F. O. Bilson, the John and Mae Calamos Stuart School of Business Dean Endowed Chair, director of the M.S. in Finance program, and professor of finance. The partnership has resulted in the Stuart School of Business receiving more than $1 million in funding to support educational offerings and student scholarships. As a result of this relationship, Illinois Tech was invited to participate in the inaugural CME Group Foundation Scholars Program.

“We’re dedicated to investing in students because they are crucial to our success and future economic well-being,” explained Kassie Davis, executive director of the CME Group Foundation. “Our hope is that by offering scholarships to students majoring in finance, computer science, math, and other similar areas, they’ll be prepared for great careers in our industry.”

Stuart School of Business reached out to the Department of Computer Science and worked with Cynthia Hood, associate professor of computer science and engineering and the department’s associate chair. Through her, undergraduate computer science students who fit the scholarship criteria were identified and contacted through an email outreach campaign and an information session, and Stuart School of Business staff coached students on their applications. 

“This partnership between the Stuart School of Business and the Department of Computer Science is an excellent example of interdepartmental collaboration at Illinois Tech that led talented students to discover how they could leverage their skill sets toward new career paths and secure scholarships to support their education,” says Ana Rossetti, assistant dean for academic administration and student affairs at Stuart.

Students from eight universities, including Illinois Tech, were awarded CME Group Foundation scholarships.

Photo: The 2019 CME Group Foundation Scholars are (from left) Carlos Rodriguez, Gladys Toledo-Rodriguez, David Ngige, Estefania Lopez, Anthony Bañuelos, and Hernan Razo.