Donald and Linda Shearer

Donald and Linda Shearer

The scholarship is a way to express the gratitude Linda Shearer feels for a small Chemistry scholarship awarded to her which made the difference in continuing her education at Northern Illinois University (hereinafter “NIU”). This scholarship is in memory of the wonderful times experienced at NIU. This includes the impact of the University Honors Program and the professors (especially Dr. Rosie Reynolds) that took on the challenge of different teaching methods to engage exceptional students. Linda was the only female in the Honors Chemistry and Physics classes, and thus this scholarship allows preference to a female applicant.

Linda values the opportunities she had to develop leadership skills and to mature through participation in Student Council, President of the Student American Chemical Society, Honors Sorority, part time work in the Chemistry and Physics Departments, and as co-Director of the Backdoor Coffeehouse and Tour Choir at the off campus Wesleyan Methodist Church. She established a group of Honors students to provide free tutoring sessions for all Chemistry students prior to midterms and final exams.

During the May 1970 student protest, Linda and others assisted those who were injured, bringing them into the Wesleyan Methodist church for safety. She also worked with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to establish the first Scientific German class at NIU, getting the required 10 students to sign up for the new classes.

Linda also worked part-time in the Chemistry storeroom, as a computer keypunch operator for the Physics Department, and taught a Freshman Chemistry Lab when graduate students were in short supply.

Upon graduation, Linda was a pioneer in the workplace. She was the first woman to work in a non-clerical position at the first commercial nuclear power plant at Dresden Nuclear Power Station (Morris, IL) for Commonwealth Edison. She went on to become the first woman in the USA to earn an Instant Senior Reactor Operators License for a BWR from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 1986 at LaSalle County Station. She used her organizational and administrative skills to give back to her community through many volunteer positions throughout her life. She served on the NIU Alumni Association Board of Directors (Chairing the Scholarship Committee), participated in the Alumni Mentoring Students program, was an officer of the Board of Directors of the Chicago Section American Nuclear Society and the Board of Directors of the Friendship Force of the Quad Cities, was elected Minonk City Clerk, President of the Board of Directors of New Kingdom Trailriders therapeutic horseback riding, chaired various church committees and volunteers at the Genesis Medical Center in Silvis, IL. She continues to work to improve her community and is thankful to NIU for building not only her scientific knowledge but her communication skills, improving her confidence, learning to prioritize her time and to focus on goals.

Donald Shearer is grateful to NIU for establishing a returning student (nontraditional) program which allowed him to graduate while working full time. Don worked for the Chemistry and Physics Departments as a staff assistant while attending classes part-time. The experience at NIU prepared him for success as a high school chemistry and physics teacher, a hardware store owner, and several other endeavors. Don served on numerous boards, city government and is active in his church and volunteer work. He fondly remembers NIU as the place he met his future wife, Linda.

Linda M. (Noreng) Shearer is a 1973 summa cum laude graduate (B.S. in Honors Chemistry with dual minors in math and physics). She graduated a semester early and participated in the first year of the University Honors Program.

Her husband, Donald Carl Shearer, is a 1974 graduate (B.S. in Education, General Science). He was one of the first nontraditional returning students. Don and Linda met at NIU in the Chemistry Department and married after both graduated.