Crossing the finish line
By Aaron Cooper
As a teenager, Renée Suzanne Frodin (BBA ’97) grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago in a poor family. She dropped out of high school, got married, and started having children. By age 21, she and her husband had four young children with no prospects of building a solid future for their family.
Despite Frodin’s family living on food stamps, she eventually earned her GED but knew that would only carry her so far.
“Everyone I knew who had a good life for their children and was successful was also educated,” said Frodin. “They had more than a GED. Despite my circumstances, I wondered what I could do to make a better life for my kids.”
Frodin got into Prairie State College, a community college based in Chicago Heights, and earned a good GPA. Again she found herself wanting more. A student there told Frodin that Loyola University Chicago offered a Presidential Scholarship and encouraged Frodin to apply.
The big break
Frodin applied for the Presidential Scholarship and one day received a letter from Loyola. “It was like the skies opened up,” she said upon learning that she had been accepted and awarded the scholarship. “It was the best break I’ve ever gotten in my life.”
At the time, Frodin and her family lived in Richton Park. She took the train to Loyola every day, about an hour commute each way. Two of her children were at daycare, and the other two were attending school.
Frodin studied finance at the Quinlan School of Business. With only a semester left to earn her degree, Frodin’s husband passed away unexpectedly. Facing an even more uncertain future as a single mother of four children, Frodin feared she would lose her scholarship, because the Presidential Scholarship is only for full-time students.
"I couldn’t attend full time anymore after he passed, because I needed to get a job,” Frodin said. “But I still wanted to finish my degree, because I was so close. I wanted to graduate from Loyola and didn’t want to have to go someplace else.”
Frodin wrote a letter to the University asking if there was any way the scholarship could be continued so she could finish her final classes despite not being able to continue on full time.
“Loyola said yes, and I am forever grateful,” said Frodin. “Loyola helped us all—five people, not just me,” she said. “All four of my kids have graduated from college. And I don’t know where we’d be if I hadn’t finished my degree.”
Frodin went on to a successful career in investment operations, accounting, and finance. As she established her career and could better provide for her family, she began donating money to Loyola particularly in support of scholarships.
“I like to give back to the University any way I can,” Frodin said. “I always envision someone like me who wouldn’t be able to attend Loyola without some assistance, and I hope that he or she can graduate and have a better life because of their education and pay it forward.”
Frodin recently lost her job and is working diligently to launch a new full-time coaching business with a specialty in helping women who are frustrated with dating.
“I am a big believer in lifelong education,” said Frodin. “Learning something difficult and not giving up really tests your mettle. Are you going to do this? Are you going to stick with it? Are you going to show up for class? Are you going to talk to the professor? Are you going to share your ideas? Are you going to speak with other students and be active? Are you going to participate? All of those things are so valuable throughout life.”
“I had a pretty rough childhood, and the kindness that was extended to me by the University made me believe the world could be a good place and that good things could happen to good people,” said Frodin. “I am grateful for the opportunity to give back to Loyola, and I hope the University will continue to make the education it provides available to as many people as possible.