Monday, March 14, 2005

An AST Success Story

By Melanie Cain

In the spring of 2004, Rebecca Alberts went into the Applied Study office and inquired about possible internships for the upcoming summer. Rebecca was a junior majoring in Accountancy and was looking for an accounting internship in the medical field. About two weeks after her visit, she received an email from the AST office notifying her that just such an internship was available in the Springfield area.

The internship was being offered by Healthcare Network Associates, an affiliate of the Memorial Health System. They were looking for an intern to fill in for the senior financial analyst, who was out for the summer on maternity leave. The intern’s main duty would be to prepare the monthly financial reports for the HCNA accounting department, with various other tasks assigned along the way. Rebecca applied right away, went through the interview process, and was hired.

Rebecca speaks very highly of her AST. Not only was she able to gain “real” accounting experience, but she also learned much more, especially with the help of her supervisor, Becky Berberet. Rebecca commented, “Whenever she could, Becky would bring me along to financial meetings, clinic visits, etc. I met many new people, including the doctors I was doing accounting work for.” Rebecca added that she enjoyed the opportunity to experience the job from a director’s view rather than starting at the bottom, doing menial tasks.

After her AST ended, Rebecca was asked to come back during winter break to work as extra help for the Memorial Medical Center accounting department, dealing mainly with accounts payable. The arrangement was that if a regular staff member was overloaded with work, Rebecca was there to help.

About two weeks into the 2005 spring semester, Rebecca got a call from Michael Mueller in general accounting at Memorial asking if she would like to temporarily fill a vacant position until the department could hire a permanent replacement. Rebecca agreed and ended up getting some great experience preparing accounts receivable reconciliations.

While Rebecca was working at this temporary position, she unexpectedly received a call from Memorial’s director of decision support, Mike Hoyle. An opening for a cost accountant had come up; Hoyle had heard some great things about Rebecca and wanted to encourage her to apply for the job. Since cost accounting was a field she had always hoped to enter, Rebecca was thrilled. A couple weeks and a few interviews later, Rebecca found herself working full time for the Memorial Medical Center accounting department as a cost accountant.

Asked about this chain of events, Rebecca said, “I feel very fortunate for the opportunities I have been given at Memorial. I have been able to work my way up through the accounting departments, and I’ve learned so much in the process. I am very grateful for the wonderful experiences I have gained, all of which began with an AST internship.”

Rebecca earned her bachelor’s degree in Accountancy in the 2004 fall semester and is currently enrolled in UIS’ graduate program. She currently volunteers on the weekends with the Springfield Tax Counseling Project, a local service aimed at assisting low income individuals with their tax returns. She plans to sit for the CPA exam after earning her master’s degree.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

WUIS and Illinois Issues Celebrate 30 Years

By Melanie Cain

For thirty years now, public radio station WUIS and Illinois Issues magazine have been excellent sources of public affairs information for residents of central Illinois. WUIS signed on the air on January 3, 1975, as WSSR 91.9 FM. Illinois Issues released its very first issue that same month. Last Thursday, February 24, these two entities commemorated their anniversaries with a joint celebration at the Executive Mansion in Springfield.

The main focus for WUIS has always been news and cultural programming, and their mission is to provide local information, music programming, and coverage of government news statewide. Known as the hub of the Illinois Public Radio Network, the station is a member of National Public Radio and Public Radio International.

Illinois Issues, a monthly, not-for-profit publication of UIS, has a mission to provide analyses of public policies in the state. The magazine pays particular attention to Illinois government, politics, current trends, legislative issues, and the state’s quality of life.

Both WUIS and Issues are units within the Center for State Policy and Leadership at UIS.

The anniversary celebration started out with a reception, complete with hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and a string ensemble playing in the background. During the reception, people were able to mingle and catch up on old times. Various displays showcased WUIS and Illinois Issues with pictures, articles, and other pieces of memorabilia highlighting their history, achievements, and staff.

After the reception, the crowd gathered in the banquet room to begin the evening’s program. After Chancellor Ringeisen welcomed the audience, Barbara Ferrara, CSPL interim executive director, gave opening remarks in which she discussed the significance that the station and the magazine have in society and how they tie politics and culture together. She then introduced the master of ceremonies, J. Michael Lennon, who is emeritus vice president for academic affairs at Wilkes University and former publisher of Illinois Issues.

The main topic for the evening was “Reflecting on the past and looking to the future of public affairs reporting at the University of Illinois at Springfield” and the speakers were Kevin Klose and Mike Lawrence. Klose, president and chief executive officer of NPR, spoke of the importance of broadcast journalism in society today and encouraged everyone to let their elected officials know they support public radio.

Lawrence is director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at SIU in Carbondale and a frequent contributor to Illinois Issues. He pointed out how much journalism reporting has changed over the past thirty years, saying there is now less focus on local issues. This, said Lawrence, makes publications like Issues that much more important today.

After the formal presentation, several former employees shared thoughts and stories about the station and the magazine. They spoke fondly of their experiences and expressed how much being a part of these programs meant to them.

Closing remarks were made by Peggy Boyer Long, executive editor of Illinois Issues, and Rich Bradley, interim general manager of WUIS.

To learn more about WUIS or Illinois Issues, you can visit their websites at