Durbin Announces Fall 2020 Recipients Of The Ed Greelegs Scholarship Program

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced Naomi Bolden, a college senior; Yanina Villagomez, a recent college graduate; and Ahmon Williams, a college freshman; all from Chicago, Illinois, as the three recipients of the Fall 2020 Ed Greelegs Scholarship Program. This scholarship, open to students from Illinois or those studying in Illinois, is an opportunity for the students to receive financial assistance while obtaining a first-hand experience in Senator Durbin’s Washington, D.C. office.  The program was created in honor of Durbin’s former Chief of Staff who passed away in March 2017 due to complications with Parkinson’s disease.  There have been eleven Ed Greelegs scholars since the program’s inception.

“Ed knew everybody in Washington by name and everybody knew Ed. From Teddy Kennedy to the elevator operator, and the men and women who cleaned our office and polished the floor.  Even as parts of his memory were failing, his passion for politics never changed.  Ed is at peace now, but his influence remains with the lives he touched,” said Durbin.  “I’m excited to continue this scholarship program – even in the midst of a pandemic where my offices are working virtually – in Ed’s name and honor, to carry on his love of politics to the next generation by making the incredible experience of a Washington, D.C. internship possible for any Illinois student interested, no matter their background.”

“Interning in Senator Durbin’s office has been an incredible experience,” Naomi said.  “Had it not been for the Ed Greelegs Scholarship Program, I wouldn’t have had the chance to pursue my first congressional internship.  This was a different internship experience compared to past experiences because it was virtual, but I am grateful for the opportunity to experience a taste of what it’s like having a career in public service.”

“The Ed Greelegs Scholarship Program with Senator Durbin’s office has been an incredible learning experience. Senator Durbin and everyone on the staff truly care about helping people and have been very encouraging of our participation and sharing of ideas in the program. Not only have we learned how a political office runs on a daily basis, we have also learned how they adapt in times of crises,” said Yanina.  “I am grateful to have gotten the opportunity to work with everyone and to share my passions with people who are so instrumental to change in this country.”

“Interning in Senator Durbin’s office has been a once in a lifetime experience,” Ahmon said.  “The Ed Greelegs Scholarship Program afforded me the opportunity to get to know the inner workings of Congress while working alongside Senator Durbin’s highly respected staff.  I know the experiences I had this semester will be beneficial to my future career path where I hope to pursue a career in public service.  I am grateful for the opportunity.”

Naomi Bolden

Naomi is a first-generation college student from Chicago, born and raised on the South Side in South Shore. She is a senior in her last semester at Northern Illinois University (NIU) where she’s double majoring in political science and journalism. While at NIU, she has served as President of the Student Government Association, helped to revamp the NAACP chapter, danced on a dance team, and studied abroad at the University of Oxford in Oxford, England. Naomi discovered her passion for advocacy and public service her freshman year of college when she became a Senator for the Student Government Association. She plans to continue her passion for advocacy and helping others by attending law school next fall and pursuing a career in public interest law.

Yanina Villagomez

Yanina is from Chicago and a recent graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, majoring in Political Science and English and minoring in Italian. As an undergraduate, she served as Vice-President for the Undergraduate Law Review and the Illini Democrats.  Her interest in public policy, law, and public service lead to a job at the Office of Volunteer Programs, where she helped coordinate events for students to volunteer in the community. She became interested in public service and politics through her volunteer efforts in Chicago and the Champaign-Urbana area.

Ahmon Williams

Ahmon was born and raised in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago’s South Side. From a very young age, he had a passion for studying history, and that eventually led him to take a strong interest in politics. One of the best moments of his young life was when he saw a black man, Barack Obama, ascend to the highest office of the land. Being aware of the gross inequalities that exist today has inspired his dream to become a politician. He is currently a first year political science major at Prairie State College, in Chicago Heights, Illinois, where he also serves as a peer tutor for math and participates as a member of the speech team.

Ed Greelegs started working for Durbin in 1990 and served as his chief of staff in the House of Representatives and Senate for a combined 17 years.  Ed was a beloved member of the Capitol Hill community, and made our country better with his caring approach and dedication to public service.

Senator Durbin paid tribute to Ed shortly after his passing in March 2017.  Video of his floor speech is available here.