Thursday, December 18, 2014

Professor Boria Sax's new book tells a personal story

Boria Sax, adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Illinois Springfield, has published a new book about his father and childhood entitled Stealing Fire: Memoir of a Boyhood in the Shadow of Atomic Espionage.

The book details how his father, Saville Sax, recruited Theodore Hall when they were undergraduates at Harvard and began passing atomic secrets to the Soviets.

Their acts of espionage could have led, as in the case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, to death in the electric chair. But unlike others (Klaus Fuchs, David Greenglass, Morton Sobell) they were never even tried for what they did, let alone convicted.

Professor Sax is an eminent scholar in the field of human/animal studies and the elder son of Saville Sax. In the book, he relates his stressful experiences growing up in a troubled home, one in which his father lived in constant fear of the FBI.

It was only as an adult that Professor Sax came to fully comprehend the magnitude of his father's deed, one he does not condone. As a result, he can now relate how Saville Sax's puzzling behavior affected every member of his family, and the price each one had to pay.

This very personal memoir is also an account of a Russian Jewish community that settled in the United States, torn between the desire for continued intimacy and the need to assimilate. The examination of social and political events over several generations invites readers to reflect back on their own experience and its implications.

Professor Boria Sax has published more than a dozen books, many of which deal with animal folklore. He is also the author of Animals in the Third Reich depicting the complex and insidious views of the Nazis and their impact on the German people.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Leadership lived: Student starts Mock Trial team at UIS

During her first semester of college, Vanessa Pratt decided she wanted to start a Mock Trial team at the University of Illinois Springfield. She went to work recruiting other students and found a faculty sponsor to help guide the team.

“It’s taught me you have to be very dedicated if you want to be a leader,” said Pratt. “You have to be willing to put the work in to get benefit from it.”

The American Mock Trial Association assigns students a case each year. Students serve as either prosecutors or defense attorneys arguing the case, often before real judges or attorneys. The team competes against other universities throughout the state.

“I feel like it gives me an upper hand,” said Pratt. “While it’s not an actual trial, it gives me the public speaking and a lot of courtroom etiquette.”

Pratt, a sophomore legal studies and communication major from Quincy, Illinois, chose the University of Illinois Springfield because her father and uncle are alumni.

“I love the small community here at UIS,” she said. “I didn’t really want to go to a larger school.”

On campus, Pratt is a member of the Capital Scholars Honors Program, Pre-Law Society, Model Illinois Government, the Christian Student Fellowship and works for UIS Admissions. She encourages other students to get involved.

“I think part of the college experience is getting out and getting involved and maybe you’ll be like me and start something that you love,” said Pratt. “I’ve met so many friends through Mock Trial that I feel like I’m going to have for the rest of my life.”

Following graduation, Pratt plans to attend law school and one day hopes to become a prosecuting attorney. She hopes Mock Trial will continue to grow at UIS.

“I really hope it stays long after I’m here and it’s something I can come back as an alumnus and help out with and be able to tell people that I got that started,” she said.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Leadership lived: UIS student serves on local city council and school board

The University of Illinois Springfield is known for educating some of the state’s most effective public servants and that’s exactly why Peyton Bernot decided to earn his degree at UIS.

At 21, the political science major is already applying what’s he’s learned in the classroom – as an elected official in his hometown of Benld, Illinois.

Bernot is an alderman in Benld where he chairs the finance committee and oversees the city’s budget. He’s also a Gillespie CUSD #7 school board member.

“I was elected to both capacities when I was 18, a senior in high school,” said Bernot. “I’ve always had a love for politics and I’m the prime example of a political animal.”

In 2011, Bernot decided to run for the school board and city council because he disagreed with many of the decisions being made by elected officials. He defeated incumbent opponents in both races to win.

Two years later, Bernot decided to run for mayor of Benld. He lost the race, but says he learned a lot from the experience.

“You learn more from losing than you do from winning and I think that’s served me well,” he said.

Bernot is pursuing his bachelor’s degree at UIS to learn about the theories behind political science. He chose UIS because of its location in the state capital and abundance of internship opportunities.

“I just recently completed an internship with the Illinois Petroleum Council and it was a great experience. Without UIS I wouldn’t have had that experience,” he said.

After he graduates from UIS, Bernot wants to either earn his master’s in public administration from UIS or attend law school in Chicago. He knows the latter would mean giving up his political career in Benld.

“I’ve always been told don’t forget where you come from and I won’t,” said Bernot. “That applies to UIS and (Benld).”