Bonnie Miller, the Foundation’s board president, was featured as March 2015’s Remarkable Woman in the Chicago Tribune. Read the full article here.

“Before Bonnie became president, we were doing good work,” said Robin Redmond, the foundation’s executive director. “But she had the foresight to see a greater potential. Now, we can help more students.” Bonnie Miller is a hands-on president, she added, known in the boardroom as “a sharp cookie with a wicked sense of humor.”

Five Pullman Scholar Alumni share how the Pullman Foundation impacted their lives.

“I am a graduate of Wendell Phillips High School (in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood) and Northwestern University. I grew up in the Ida B. Wells Homes and the Clarence Darrow Homes (former public housing projects in Bronzeville ). I am one of seven children and the first to attend college. Without the Pullman Scholarship I would not have been able to afford to finish college. I went on to receive a master’s from Boston University and a J.D. (juris doctor, a law degree) from Boston College. I recently retired from serving as a juvenile court judge after 20 years.”

-Leslie Harris, J.D., Northwestern University

“My mother’s family arrived in northern Indiana from Holland in the late 1850s to find fertile farmland ideal for starting their new life as American farmers. But as often happens, the first generation after their arrival decided to break out in many directions, a few of whom ended up on the south side of Chicago working for Pullman. I don’t have all the details of what jobs they performed, or whether they lived in Pullman houses or shopped at the Pullman stores, or if they were around for the famous strike, but I do know they settled there for generations. Even in my childhood in the 1970s, we used to visit many of my older relatives that still lived in Roseland.

In the late 1980s, I benefited from Mr. Pullman’s foundation, whose scholarship helped fund my undergraduate education at Bucknell University from 1988-92. More than a century after my first ancestors began working for the Pullman Palace Car Company, his legacy was still having an impact on my family and me. Today, I work with the Foundation donating my time, financial support and expertise to help ensure that legacy continues for the next generation of worthy scholars from Cook County. In the end, some may view George Pullman as a heartless capitalist exploiting workers, but that narrow view misses the dramatic influence this early Chicago industrialist had on our city, our culture and on the lives of thousands of people in Chicagoland and around the world – an influence that extends long beyond the life of George Pullman or the company he founded.”

-Jeff Tryka, CFA, ’92, Bucknell University

“In 1970, I was one of the fortunate recipients of a Pullman Foundation scholarship which allowed me to attend Washington University in St. Louis. Having grown up on the south side of Chicago I am proud of this Foundation and its mission.  I am impressed with the caliber of students who are selected for these awards and only wish that there were more funds available to support more students in their academic endeavors.  The daughter of George Pullman has created a wonderful legacy in memory of her father.”

– Margaret Marek Rohter, MPH,CPHA,LEHP, ’73, Washington University in St. Louis

“The Pullman Scholarship could not cover the cost of tuition at Northwestern, but their gift certainly made a difference to me in so many other ways. They made me feel important and worthy. Their gift was a form of unanticipated support that came when I needed support the most. That support has stuck with me 40 years later, inspiring me to start my own foundation – an arts foundation, which aspires to inspire others, and impact them in a way that makes them feel the way that the Pullman Foundation made me feel.”

-Andrea J. Fulton, ’83, Northwestern University

“My grandfather came to the U.S. before the turn of the 20th century and was employed as a tradesman at the Pullman works in Roseland. Although I never knew him, my father always talked about the Pullman factory, the lay-out of the community and the splendor of the Hotel Florence.

During my youth I was surrounded by the Pullman community. Mendel CHS (formerly Pullman Tech) was school to many of my friends. Gatley Stadium was home to most of my high school football games. The shadows of the Pullman factories were a constant reminder of the powerful empire that was once in my backyard.

Fortunately, the Pullman legacy has continued through the Pullman Educational Foundation. The Foundation was there for me when I needed financial assistance for my college education. As a direct relative of a Pullman Co. employee I was able to qualify for a Pullman Scholarship. I received 4 years of aid which significantly eased the financial burden on me and my parents.

Today, my two children receive financial assistance from the Pullman Foundation for their college education. We now have 4 generations that have benefited from the Pullman legacy stretching over 12 decades.”

-Richard J. Meliska, C.P.A., ’74, MacMurray College

We are honored to welcome the 65th Class of Pullman Scholars! These 40 exceptional students join 121 returning Pullman Scholars (full list of scholars here) and are pursuing various majors including, English, biomedical engineering, social work, accounting, and many more at 25 different colleges and universities throughout the United States.

As these scholars embark on their college journey, we look forward to our next application season. The 2015 scholarship application will be available on our website in November. If you know any outstanding high school seniors in Cook County, please encourage them to apply!

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By Patrick T. Murphy, Pullman Scholar Alumnus, ’09.

“Always be dissatisfied with what you are, if you want to arrive at what you are not yet. Because whenever you are satisfied with yourself, there you have stuck… Always add some more, always keep walking, always forge ahead.”   – Augustine of Hippo

Ten years ago, fear clenched me. I was preparing to conclude a significant portion of my life. I had just spent an entire summer mopping floors and cleaning lockers at my now-alma mater, Marian Catholic High School. I was a high school senior working to pay tuition, and I became inundated with the all-too-typical worries: Should I really pursue my dream, or should I play the safe route? Can I even afford this thing called ‘The American Dream,’ or is that something now reserved for only a select few? Does that American Dream—beyond the white picket fence and the suburban house—exist anymore?

Ten years ago, I was doubtful. The American Dream? It seemed like a concept in a history book as opposed to something we should all seek out. My family had seen many hardships: a trying divorce with my estranged father, the repercussions of racial discrimination from generations before me, an exhausted mother working three jobs trying to support my three sisters and me with the occasional help of food stamps.

Ten years ago, my dreams seemed unattainable. With the enormous cost of college, it seemed an unwise choice to get a degree in theater or become a musician for that matter. I had never even taken a music lesson in my life, and yet, it was a part of my American Dream: study to be successful in theater and express myself through music. However, like anything worth effort in life, the sacrifices, accompanying my leap of faith to enroll at Loyola University Chicago, made the experience all the more challenging and rewarding. I didn’t imagine that ten years later I’d be the president at 16th Street Theater in Berwyn, Illinois, as well as an independent recording artist. And yet, I mention these accomplishments not to boast, but rather to affirm to any reader that you are the creator of your own destiny and that the American Dream you want in the future is a present reality. It exists NOW.

Today, I am seizing life for all I can. This Pullman Scholar has come a long way, but I realize that I have not reached my full potential. And boy, am I glad for that, too. The day that I feel I am satisfied is the day I stop reaching, pushing, grasping ( a nod to my favorite quote above). I am now enrolled in a nonprofit management master’s program and am happily employed in the fundraising office of a Catholic religious order. I’ve come to realize how vitally important education is far beyond where it can take us in society or our career, but where it can take us in the human experience. Education is the fuel for our minds that keeps us yearning and growing.

My American Dream now? Help others seize life for all it can be and bring happiness to the world. Had it not been for the scholarship and support from the Pullman Foundation, I would not have developed into the man I am today. I like to humbly think that the Pullman Foundation has done more than impact just my life. Far from it, the support I received is now indirectly impacting the lives of those whom I try to support in my daily work at the theater, religious order, in friendship circles, and family.


Patrick (right) hosting the “Q & A” session at the 2014 Pullman Scholar Symposium. Pictured with Jeff Tryka, Pullman Scholar Alumnus ’92.


Today, I am blessed with a great gift. The Pullman Scholarship has led me to a place where I now am fortunate enough to give back to the foundation to help others whose shoes I was once in. This past year, I volunteered as a Pullman Scholar Alumni Selection Committee member, wading through essays of so many deserving scholarship candidates. Each story I read was invigorating to visualize the passions of a new generation, as well as humbling to think that these students are in similar places as to where I was ten years ago. Their essays were the truest stories of trying hardships, overcoming adversities, and dedicated persistence in pursuit of their dreams.

I am now a member of the Pullman Foundation Associates Board. I donated an annual gift to the Foundation, knowing that my gift will be used in support of someone just like me. I volunteered at this year’s Pullman Scholar Symposium to help current Pullman Scholars practice professional networking and make meaningful connections with alumni and one another.

All of this is to say to those high school seniors and college students with big dreams that may seem impossible to accomplish right now: just keep working hard toward your goals and passions. Ten years from now you may reflect on the past decade, in awe of where you were and how far you’ve come, hopefully living your own American Dream.

And to those of us who are lucky to be living out our dreams, remember where you came from, the hard work you put in, and what you can do to give back to others who are taking the first steps of their own journeys.

On May 29th, 2014 Pullman Scholars participated in the first-ever Pullman Scholar Symposium that offered panel discussions, networking opportunities, and career development workshops designed to give them the tools needed to thrive during college and beyond. Alumni, board members, and volunteers joined the scholars for an evening of networking and to hear keynote Pullman Scholar Alumnus Steven Fair speak about how his definition of how success has changed since college.

We’d like to extend our gratitude to the Pullman Scholar Symposium Planning Committee, our associates board, and other volunteers who worked hard to make our first symposium a success. THANK YOU!

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