Both alumni of the University of Illinois, Maria graduated in 2013 with a double major, receiving a BFA in both painting and graphic design from the School of Art and Design in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, and Esteban received a BA in sociology in 2012 and an MA in political science as a Civic Leadership Fellow in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Maria is the founder of Creative Health, a health and wellness social venture, which she and Esteban now run together. Creative Health, under their guidance, helps low-income families learn about preventive health care and proper nutrition. They also teach several courses in the College of Engineering at Illinois that help students enhance their creativity and take steps toward accomplishing their goals.
As a senior in high school and longing to go to college, Maria planned on postponing her college education in order to save money to pay for it. Fortunately, the summer after graduating from high school, Maria received notification, out of the blue, that she had been chosen to receive the Clyde Davis Scholarship for an incoming freshman to the School of Art and Design. The scholarship offered a generous full-ride award that covered all of her expenses for a four-year degree program at Illinois. Becoming a Davis Scholar changed the course of Maria's life.
While at Illinois, she met Esteban, and the rest of Maria's life began to fall into place. They started dating, and a year later Esteban proposed in Crystal Lake Park, where they used to walk during study breaks. And now, on August 3, 2014, they begin their lives together. Continuing the Illinois theme that brought them together, they chose Allerton Park, an extension of the University of Illinois, as their wedding site.
And, to honor the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Clyde Davis, which made it possible for Maria and Esteban to meet and grow as students and leaders, they have set up a fund to which their friends and family, in lieu of wedding gifts, can make contributions, and have become the catalysts of more need-based scholarships to be awarded to incoming freshmen in the School of Art and Design.
The Ludeke/Gast Scholarship in Art and Design is awarded thanks to their generous spirit and the support of their family and friends. Gifts are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.