A Chance to Change Someone’s Life

Keeping the family tradition alive, and because it was most affordable, Al Heller (BS Accounting ’75) followed in his brothers’ footsteps and attended The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) for his undergraduate degree. Al wanted to be sure he received a “top-notch” accounting education, which UIC was able to provide. Al earned his degree in accounting at the College of Business Administration while balancing a full-time job to fund his entire education.

Additional fun facts about Al: 

• Al’s favorite place to eat near campus is Big Al’s Italian Beef on Taylor Street for 95 cents (back in the day).
• In his free time, you can find Al traveling, hiking, hitting the links, cheering on his favorite sports teams with his kids, and enjoying concerts and plays.

Al credits the education he received at UIC for providing a strong foundation of business disciplines, giving him the tools he needed to launch his career within the healthcare industry. With more than 35 years of leadership experience in the healthcare industry and developed expertise in life sciences, Al currently serves as an Operating Partner for Water Street Healthcare Partners, LLC.

While celebrating a recent birthday, Al’s daughter-in-law asked what he was going to do differently in the coming year.

He decided he wanted to “Change someone’s life for the better” – and someone he had never met. After discussing his vision with family and friends, Al decided to establish a scholarship fund at his alma mater, creating a meaningful and positive impact for UIC Business students who might otherwise not have the opportunity to attend college.

With the guidance of the Advancement team, in December 2016, Al established the Heller Family Business Scholarship in support of an undergraduate accounting business student from Chicago. This fall, the first Heller Family Business Scholarship was awarded to Ehlimana Gutosic ’20 – a UIC Business Scholar, a member of the Honors College, and a first-generation college student.

(Picture) Ehlimana Gutosic ’20, Heller Family Business Scholarship Recipient

While Al only recently reconnected with UIC Business, he stated that “Giving back to UIC has already had a positive impact on me and my hope is that it has a real, important and positive impact on those that are helped.”

Financial support from alumni, like Al, is essential in attracting and retaining UIC Business students. The impact that Al has made on Ehlimana’s education has truly made a difference.

In her own words, “Because of his generosity, the financial burden placed on me to pursue my education will be greatly reduced,” allowing her to focus on her studies, do well in school and, ultimately, secure a good job. Each year more than 70 percent of UIC Business students receive some form of financial aid. UIC Business is committed to supporting a talented, well-rounded, hardworking, and diverse student body.

Thank you, Al, for your positive impact on Ehlimana’s education and future!