December 5, 2023


education gives you strength

The Matt and Sue Johanson Diversity in Technology Fund provides opportunities for CAST students – News

Audra Heistand

Audra Heistand

The computer science program in the College of Applied Science and Technology teaches students to use computers to solve problems. The major provides students with a background in computational theory, design, hardware, and operating systems.

Audra Heistand is a sophomore computer science major who received financial assistance through the Matt and Sue Johanson Diversity in Technology Fund. “This scholarship allows me to focus more of my time and energy submerging myself in my studies instead of worrying about finances,” Heistand said. “With the aid of the generous support I’ve received, I hope to one day help others through technological contributions of my own.”

Heistand is looking forward to taking electives like Principles of Software Engineering and Secure Software Development where she can explore her coding interests. She is also involved in the registered student organization, Women in Technology and is vice president of the ISU student chapter of the Association of Information Technology Professionals.

“I’d love to give a big thank you to my scholarship donors,” Heistand said. “I am truly honored by their contribution to my education. I hope that I can use this gift to develop my technology skills and eventually make a positive impact on the lives of others, like they have with mine.”

Birhanu Kassa

Birhanu Kassa

Cybersecurity is the newest major in the College of Applied Science and Technology. The major empowers students to manage security risks, including crimes such as hacking and data theft. Scholarship support helps them excel.

Birhanu Kassa is a junior cybersecurity major who received financial assistance through the Matt and Sue Johanson Diversity in Technology Fund. “My scholarship enabled me to pursue a summer internship. It was difficult at first without the scholarship because I was responsible for paying for my summer course, rent, and living expenses,” he said. “The support made it possible for me to go forward with the opportunity.”

Kassa’s work at a health care facility gave him real-life experience in software support and maintaining security protocols for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance. The internship and Kassa’s favorite class, defensive security, brought him one step closer to his dream career as a security analyst. He consequently knows firsthand how impactful private support is for students in need.

“I’m so thankful for my donors who gave me the chance to have an internship,” he said. “I feel like I was given the golden ticket. I will always be grateful for my scholarship support.”

Katelyn Hartman

Katelyn Hartman

Computer science major junior Katelyn Hartman chose the field because she likes the idea that technology is always evolving and that her dream job might not yet exist.

“Receiving the Matt and Sue Johanson Diversity in Technology Fund will greatly help with my studies and my future,” Hartman said. “My goal is to graduate with a minimal amount of debt, so I won’t have to pay it off far into my life. Scholarships like this go a long way in helping me reach this goal without having to stress about my future financial situation.”

As an upperclassman, she looks forward to taking electives on artificial intelligence and finding an internship for next summer. Hartman is also a member of Women in Technology, a peer mentor for the NexSTEM program on campus, and a clarinet player in Illinois State’s pep band.

“I am very thankful that donors create scholarships for recipients they have not yet met,” she said. “It is nice to know there are people willing to graciously give back to others. The fact that I was lucky enough to receive this scholarship is the cherry on top.”

To learn how you too can support College of Applied Science and Technology students and initiatives, visit

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