Monday, February 22, 2016

Leadership lived: Student becomes the face of the MAP grant funding effort

When Jamie Anderson came to the University of Illinois Springfield, she never expected to be in the spotlight. However, that all changed when her ability to pay for a college education was threatened by a lack of a state budget.

Anderson is one of nearly 700 UIS students for whom the state-supported Monetary Assistance Program (MAP) is essential for access to a college education.

Since October 2015, Anderson has been advocating for funding alongside U.S. Senators, state constitutional officers and leaders in higher education.

“So many students are worried about if we’re going to get MAP grants this year, next year,” she said. “MAP grants make up about $4,000 to $5,000 of my financial aid and that’s a huge chunk that I would not be able to contribute on my own.”

Anderson has spoken at press conferences, attended the governor’s state of the state speech at the capitol and testified before a house committee on higher education funding.

“I never would have imagined speaking in front of so many important people, having important people come up to me on the street saying ‘nice job’,” she said.

Outside of her MAP grant efforts, Anderson is also starting a group on campus called UIS Child Advocates to teach students how they can better advocate for children.

“It’s really boosted my confidence in a way to say I can be a leader and I can advocate for something way bigger,” she said.

Anderson also mentors kids through 4-H and Big Brothers Big Sisters and mentors first-generation college students as part of the Necessary Steps Program.

Following graduation, Anderson plans to earn her master’s degree in social work with a concentration in child welfare.

“Me being the shy person I was, I always hated being the center of attention,” she said. “Now that I’ve got to experience some of it, it’s like wow. I love how I’ve seen myself grow over the time of me being a freshman until now.”

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Leadership lived: Student gets management experience thanks to on-campus job


Asia Jackson is learning a lot about managing people through her on-campus job at the University of Illinois Springfield. She started working at Stars Lounge, the student center on campus, as a freshman and now serves as manager.

“It has taught me patients. It has taught me understanding,” she said. “I learned being a manager that everybody learns at their own pace.”

The criminal justice major is also involved on campus as traditions coordinator for the Student Activities Committee and president of the Kinky & Curly Natural Hair Empowerment Club. She also volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters as a mentor.

“I’m not one of those people who likes to be bored,” she said. “So I often find things to do and I’m always getting involved in organizations.”

She says managing fellow students and being so involved can sometimes be a challenge, but she’s learning a lot from being a student leader.

“It gets very challenging because I juggle other things as well,” she said. “I’m still a full-time student and on top of that I’m a manager and part of several other organizations, so the challenging part is time management.”

Jackson is glad she chose UIS because of the abundance of opportunities available to her and the ability to network.

“That’s what I absolutely love about this school, there’s so much networking to be done and so many connections to make.”

Following graduation, Jackson plans to attend law school and hopes to one day become a defense attorney.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Outstanding Master's Thesis Award presented to former biology graduate student

The University of Illinois Springfield Research Board has awarded former biology graduate student Hillary Rikli with the UIS Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Rikli’s thesis was entitled “The Electrophysiological Effects of Poneratoxin (PoTx) and Two Novel, Structurally-Similar Analogs on the Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel Nav1.7.” Her thesis chair was Stephen Johnson, UIS assistant professor of chemistry.

Rikli grew up in Highland, IL and majored in chemistry as an undergraduate student at UIS. Following graduation in 2012, she continued her education as a graduate student in biology. She earned her master’s degree in 2015.

She now teaches at UIS as an adjunct professor of chemistry and is continuing her research with Professor Johnson. The two are currently working to acquire preliminary data for the submission of an NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Award in the spring of 2016.

The following students received their departments’ Outstanding Thesis or Project Award for 2014-15 and were nominated for the UIS Outstanding Master’s Thesis/Project competition:

Matthew Talken
“Building True Immersion: How Skyrim Creates a Reality for Players.”
Thesis Chair: Tena Helton

Environmental Studies 
April Simnor
“A Nationwide Evaluation of the Hacking Programs for Osprey Pandion Haliaetus.”
Thesis Chair: Tih-Fen Ting

StaLynn Wanora Davis
“The Cross, the Way of Freedom.”
Thesis Chair: Holly Kent

Five to join the Illinois Legislative Internship Hall of Fame at UIS

The Samuel K. Gove Illinois Legislative Internship Hall of Fame at the University of Illinois Springfield will honor five individuals who have served as legislative interns at the state capitol. Phil Lackman, State Senator Julie Morrison, Tim Nuding, Becky Patton and Donovan Pepper will be inducted during a ceremony at the Old State Capitol on Monday, February 29, 2016. Inductees are selected based on their contributions to Illinois and its citizens. The Hall of Fame is also recognition of the important role that public service internships play in developing public sector leadership.

Phil Lackman serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois (IIA of IL). Prior to his appointment as CEO, he served as Vice President of Government Relations for the IIA of IL, the Illinois Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA IL), Illinois State Association of Health Underwriters (ISAHU) and the Illinois Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (IAMIC). Prior to joining the IIA of IL, Lackman held the position of Director of Legislative Affairs for the Illinois Life Insurance Council from 1991 until 1995. Prior to that, he was Secretary of State Jim Edgar’s Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs from 1985 to 1991. Lackman began his career in Springfield as a Legislative Analyst with the Senate Republican Leader James “Pate” Philip. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science/speech communication from Illinois State University and completed a graduate seminar in political studies at the University of Illinois Springfield and was a member of the Illinois Legislative Staff Internship Program class of 1982-83.

State Senator Julie Morrison was elected in 2012 and serves the 29th district, which includes many of Chicago’s northern suburbs. She was a member of the Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program class of 1978-79. She was born in Beardstown, Ill. and earned a bachelor’s degree from Knox College. Morrison started her career at the Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America as a federal energy regulations analyst in Chicago. She also worked for Congressman John Porter as his Field Director in the 10th Congressional District, and was appointed by both Governor Thompson and Edgar to the Department of Children and Family Services Advisory Council. After serving on the DCFS advisory council, she took the position of supervisor of West Deerfield Township, which she held for 15 years. As a member of the General Assembly, she is an advocate for improving child welfare, water safety and transparency in state government.

Tim Nuding has spent 26 years working in state government. He currently serves in Governor Bruce Rauner’s Administration as the Director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget. Nuding has spent most of his career working in the legislature for the Illinois Senate Republican Staff, serving most recently as Chief of Staff to Illinois Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno. He’s also worked as a budget analyst and as the Director of the Senate Appropriations Staff. He is widely respected under the Capitol dome and has established a solid network of relationships with key players in government from both political parties. Nuding graduated from Illinois State University in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in Finance. He was a member Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program class of 1990-91.

Becky Patton is Chief Legal Counsel for the Illinois Auditor General. A member of the Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program class of 1983-84, she says the program helped her obtain a position as a legislative analyst on the Senate Majority Staff, assigned to the appropriations committee, where she worked for four years. She later returned to school, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a juris doctor degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After law school, she briefly served as a legislative analyst on the Senate Majority Staff assigned to the judiciary committee. In 1992, she began working in her current role with the Auditor General’s Office.

Donovan Pepper is the National Director of Local Government Relations for Walgreen Co. He oversees local legislative and advocacy efforts for Walgreen Co. at the municipal, county and other units of governments in all 50 states. Prior to this position, Pepper served as the Director of Government Relations for the Illinois Restaurant Association. He has worked for Illinois’ leading telecommunications provider, SBC (now AT&T), the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Amtrak, and served on the Appropriations and Substantive Committee Staff for Illinois Speaker of the House Michael J. Madigan, where he focused on the areas of transportation, higher education and consumer protection. Pepper currently serves on the Board of directors of the Civic Federation, the Magnificent Mile Association, Keep Chicago Beautiful, Chicago-Cook Workforce Partnership, Austin Chamber of Commerce, the Schaumburg Business Association and the HFS Chicago Scholars Program. Pepper is the immediate past co-chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayor’s Business Council and past board member of the University of Illinois Alumni Association, where he served at chair of the Advocacy Committee. Pepper earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political studies from the University of Illinois Springfield and was a member of the Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program class of 1994-95.

The Hall of Fame is hosted by the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. The Hall of Fame is named for the late Samuel K. Gove, founding director of the internship program and one of the founders of Illinois Issues magazine. Established in 1990, the Hall of Fame, including this year’s inductees, now numbers 64 individuals, among them a former governor and several former and current state and federal legislators. The names of the Hall’s members are inscribed on a plaque that hangs on the fourth floor of the Statehouse.

The event on February 29 will begin with a reception at 5:30 p.m. at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, followed by the induction ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $65 per person and may be purchased online at The deadline to register is February 22, 2016. Reservations are required. For more information on attending, call 217/206-7163.