Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Leadership lived: Opportunities at UIS inspire student’s career choice

When senior political science major Dan Garcia came to the University of Illinois Springfield he knew he wanted to get involved. Four years later, he’s learned a few things about leadership.

“Leadership opportunities don’t fall into your lap. You have to go out there and fight for it, you have to get it. In that process, you find you develop even more as a leader,” said Garcia.

Garcia’s passion has helped him land jobs on campus as a Student Ambassador in the Admissions Office and as a Summer Orientation Leader for the Office of New Student Orientation and Parent Relations.

“I love it so much; this is actually what I want to do when I graduate,” said Garcia. “I want to continue on into higher education, particularly admissions.”

As a Student Ambassador, Garcia is often the first face that future UIS students meet. He takes applicants and their parents on tours of campus and shares his personal experiences.

“I like connecting with students and their parents on a personal level. One of my ways to break some of the awkward ice in the beginning is to make some jokes, make them smile, and make them laugh. I like to make them feel comfortable here,” said Garcia.

Garcia says UIS is special because students can tailor leadership opportunities to fit their own interests. For example, his interest in higher education led to an internship with the UIS Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.

“I think there’s an overabundance of leadership opportunities at UIS. I find that there are so many opportunities that a lot of students might not even know,” said Garcia.

In addition to his work in admissions, Garcia volunteers as a senior peer mentor in the UIS Capital Scholars Honors Program where he’s developed, organized, and implemented programming designed to help first-year students.

He also volunteers with the Necessary Steps program, mentoring first-year, first-generation students as they face the challenging transition to college. Garcia is the treasurer for the Greek Life Advisory Board and Senior Treasurer for Habitat for Humanity at UIS among other volunteer activities.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Leadership lived: UIS history major lands job with the Papers of Abraham Lincoln


Jay Vlahon is fascinated by the life of Abraham Lincoln and believes a lot can be learned by studying the 16th president’s correspondence with others.

After graduating from Springfield’s Southeast High School, Vlahon decided to pursue his bachelor’s degree in history at the University of Illinois Springfield. The abundance of opportunities he was offered as an undergraduate left him wanting more, so he stayed at UIS for his master’s degree.

During his graduate studies, Vlahon was given the opportunity to work as a graduate assistant for the Papers of Abraham Lincoln, located as the Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield. Vlahon gained valuable experience handling and transcribing documents and processing images.

“To be able to work in this environment, I think you have to have certain skills and knowledge and that takes a good education. Without UIS, I would not be able to work here for sure,” said Vlahon.

After he graduated from UIS in 2012, Vlahon was hired by the Papers of Abraham Lincoln to continue processing images from the national archive’s Robert Todd Lincoln Collection. Vlahon is currently working to publish the documents online.

“It will broaden accessibility to documents and also understanding of Abraham Lincoln just by being able to go online and view transcriptions and images of documents,” said Vlahon.

Vlahon credits his success to the real-work preparation he received from teaching-focused faculty members at UIS.

“Just the wealth of knowledge I gained in UIS’s history department was really great,” he said.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Six new members inducted into national criminal justice honor society chapter at UIS

The University of Illinois Springfield recently inducted six new members into the Epsilon Chi Chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma, the national criminal justice honor society, marking the start of the Fall 2012 Semester.

Alpha Phi Sigma, the only national honor society for criminal justice majors, recognizes the academic excellence of undergraduate and graduate students. To be eligible, students must have completed at least one-third of the total hours required for graduation and must maintain specified grade-point averages cumulatively and in the major.

New inductees include: Kimberly Chaney of Decatur, Cole Hedrick of Rochelle, John Jones of Petersburg, Ashley King of New Berlin, Ryan McKanna of Rock Falls, and Marcus McNeal of Cahokia.

The new members join the following continuing members: Tyler Johnson of Mansfield, Larry Perse of Chicago, James Sheehan of Springfield, Amanda Walenga of Springfield, and Julie Yoder of Taylorville.

Tyler Johnson is serving as president of the chapter, with Larry Perse serving as vice-president. James Sheehan is serving as secretary of the chapter, and Julie Yoder is serving as treasurer.

For more information, contact Juanita Ortiz, assistant professor of Criminal Justice at 217/206-8481 or

Monday, October 01, 2012

Leadership lived: Chemistry major engages in collaborative undergraduate research

Junior chemistry major Dyllan Tiburzi has benefited from the personal attention he’s received from dedicated professors at the University of Illinois Springfield.

As an undergraduate, he is working side-by-side with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Layne Morsch to design new methods for making chemistry environmentally friendly. He likes the idea of utilizing cutting edge methods of technology that promote sustainability.

“I believe that it’s very important to do the research that I’m doing here,” said Tiburzi. “I would like to pursue a career in the medical field, so obviously I’ll be spending a lot time in the lab running a lot of tests. This is kind of a hands-on approach.”

Morsch helps the students choose their projects, provides training, and is always available to answers questions. However, he likes to turns the projects over to the students.

“We really focus on our undergraduates and so we’re excited to work with them and train them to be better chemists and scientists,” said Morsch.

Morsch is dedicated to providing his students with real-world preparation that will help them achieve success in meaningful professional careers.

“I actually see my job as two fold,” said Morsch. “One (part) is to advance science, but probably even more important than that is to generate a new generation of scientists. To train people who are going to go out there and be excited about doing science.”

During his time at UIS, Tiburzi has been given the opportunity to share his research with a national audience. He recently attended the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education at Pennsylvania State University with Professor Morsch.

“It was a fantastic experience,” said Tiburzi. “I met a lot of great people and found out there’s a lot out there and we are actually doing the right thing.”

Tiburzi grew up in the small town of Benld, Illinois. He chose UIS because of its right-sized and supportive environment.

“The personal factor makes it all the more enjoyable for me,” said Tiburzi.