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Foundation announces its newest Student Star

January 31, 2012
Moonja Jeong

Listen to Moonja Jeong sing

“When I sing, I have wings. I can fly!” says Moonja Jeong, music major in the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

The gifted international student from Korea has certainly soared at NIU, capturing the community’s heart with her powerful voice and gentle spirit. “Voices that are that musical and that strong inspire everyone else around them,” says Eric Johnson, director of choral activities in the NIU School of Music.

Just when things seemed like they couldn’t get any better for the rising star, Jeong received the devastating news that family circumstances had made it impossible for her to pay her senior year’s tuition. She realized she would have to leave NIU.

But NIU supporters weren’t about to let that happen. “We are very fortunate to have a number of dedicated and thoughtful donors ready to step up in an emergency,” says John Bass, executive director of Gift and Estate Planning.

The foundation community had been familiar with Jeong since she performed at an endowment luncheon the previous year. Donor Lynne Waldeland was in the audience that afternoon. “Moonja performed, and it took people’s breath away,” she says. “Before the applause, there was a moment of stunned silence when she finished.”

“When we heard about Moonja’s urgent situation, we knew that we needed to provide assistance. Failure was not an option,” Bass says. “If I had to go out and stand on the corner with a tin cup, I would have gladly done so.”

Thankfully, that was not necessary. With some help from donors, the university was able to provide Jeong a scholarship to finish her senior year. She says she could hardly believe her ears when she heard about the scholarship.

Jeong says she sees her talent as a “little gift,” one she graciously shares with the NIU community every chance she gets. She is featured in the newest foundation Student Star video, part of a series that features students who are doing exceptional things at Northern.

The talented, grateful performer is looking forward to singing at the NIU Foundation 2012 Red and Black.

Jeong says she wants to give back to those who have helped her along the way. After all, she adds, “This school gave me a miracle.”

Moonja Video Image