Veronica Gloria Earns New Joliet Agency Leadership Scholarship

Joliet, Ill. – Earlier this year, the University of St. Francis (USF) announced its Will County Access Initiative, which offers a full-tuition scholarship to benefit academically-talented but economically-challenged commuter students from under-served populations who dream of earning a college degree.  In another demonstration of its investment in the Joliet area, USF is now introducing its Joliet Agency Leadership Scholarship.

“The Joliet Agency Leadership Scholarship is designed for local, not-for-profit agency directors and leaders who serve the greater Joliet community and assists them with earning their MBA through USF.  As Joliet’s university, this is a direct way to impact Joliet community members,” said Tracy Spesia, Ed.D., USF professor and Spanish Community Center board president.

At least one scholarship will be awarded annually – subject to demand and external funding support.  Recipients must commit to maintaining board-approved leadership position at their respective agency for two years beyond degree completion.

While future recipients of the scholarship will be determined through an application-based review process, the inaugural recipient of the Joliet Agency Leadership Scholarship is Veronica Gloria, Spanish Community Center Executive Director.  As the inaugural recipient of the scholarship, Gloria sees the opportunity the scholarship presents and the lasting impact it, in turn, can create within the local community.

“What excites me most about this opportunity is that it creates sustainable access to higher education for myself and other professionals dedicated to the public good in Joliet. The more prepared we are as a sector, the more we can strategically make a difference in our local community. A quality education at USF can provide us with essential tools to creatively face challenges as change agents in our institutions, communities, and broader systems,” Gloria said.

“Although Spanish Community Center has many successes to celebrate, there are many serious challenges ahead, from devising our first strategic plan, to an impending recession, to the societal challenges that our agency and the underprivileged community we serve face,” she added. “Earning an MBA is a critical towards gaining new skills, insights, and tools to overcome whatever challenges lay ahead for our agency and community. Sharpening my business acumen will help me ask the right questions and seek the best answers to ensure that Spanish Community Center is sustainable and continues to weather the many complex storms ahead.”

Gloria began her MBA studies at USF this fall with a goal of completing the program within two years.

The idea for the scholarship originated with Spesia and her connection to the Spanish Community Center and Gloria.

“Veronica is a gifted and talent young professional and I knew she wanted to further her education.  She has her undergraduate degrees from Harvard University and she is already on the Illinois Board of Higher Education (appointed by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker).  I approached (USF President) Arvid (Johnson) with the idea and that we can strengthen the positive impact our University has on the Joliet community by investing in one of its talented leaders.  Arvid immediately agreed, and the idea continued to build from that point,” Spesia said.

Community Investing in Community

The Joliet Agency Leadership Scholarship is offered under a shared-cost structure with financial responsibilities assigned as approximately 25% to the recipient personally, 25% to the Joliet-area agency sponsoring the recipient, and 50% to the University of St. Francis – with the expectation that half of USF’s commitment will be donor-/business-funded.  To that end, USF is proud to announce that the first community business sponsor of the Joliet Agency Leadership Scholarship is Joliet-area business owner and philanthropist Terry D’Arcy.

“Terry D’Arcy has long been a strong supporter of the University of St. Francis and so many other important organizations and causes in the Joliet area,” USF President Arvid C. Johnson, Ph.D., said. “Through his support of the Joliet Agency Leadership Scholarship this year, Terry is continuing to invest in the ongoing growth and development of the greater Joliet region by partnering with USF to help one of our bright, young leaders to advance her education.”

Additional details on the Joliet Agency Leadership Scholarship will be made available to local service and community agencies in early 2021. For more information on the scholarship, please contact Eric Wignall, Vice President of Admissions, Enrollment Services, and Marketing at or 815-740-3444.

: :

Currently celebrating 100 years of higher education rooted in Franciscan values, the University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 51,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

# # #