Monday, March 28, 2016

Leadership lived: Future teacher learns important lessons at UIS


Kendra Baber loves to learn and share her knowledge with others. The University of Illinois Springfield history major wants to become a middle or high school teacher.

At UIS, Baber is vice president of the Alternative Spring Break volunteer organization and the History Club. She is also a Capital Scholars Honors Program peer mentor and volunteers with Dance Marathon, an organization that raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network.

Baber recently returned from an Alternative Spring Break trip to New York City. A group of 26 students spent the week working with the homeless in soup kitchens and other social service agencies.

“I was pushed out of my comfort zone. I became more of a leader,” she said.

Baber has been on three Alternative Spring Break trips, starting with a trip to Washington, D.C. where she also helped the homeless in 2014. Last year, she traveled to Biloxi, Mississippi where students helped with early childhood education and ecological sustainability projects.

“For me these trips are really influential,” she said. “I think when you sign up for a trip like this you think you’re going into a community and you’re the one that’s changing things within that setting, but really these people are changing you and helping you grow as a person.”

As a teacher, Baber will use what she’s learned on the Alternative Spring Break trips to try and help students who are facing hunger or homelessness.

“Because of these trips, I understand homelessness and poverty in a better way and I am more understanding to the situation they are going through and feel better prepared to help them work through that part of their life,” she said.

Baber is confident she made the right decision in choosing UIS and feels well prepared for her future career in education.

“I chose UIS because it’s a small welcoming community,” she said. “I visited some other colleges before I decided about UIS, but when I came here I automatically felt welcomed and loved and I felt this was a place that would give me opportunities to succeed and be the best person I could be.”

Monday, March 21, 2016

Leadership lived: UIS student enjoys making a difference

Jennifer Hickey has always enjoyed helping people. The University of Illinois Springfield senior is a mentor on campus, volunteers in the community and works with children at The Autism Clinic of The Hope Institute for Children and Families.

At a young age, Hickey was inspired by her grandmother, a school social worker, to help people in need. Now, she is following in her footsteps by earning a bachelor’s degree in social work.

“I want to focus on school social work and applied behavioral sciences, which is just another type of intervention for students that have autism, behavioral disorder or developmental disabilities,” she said.

On campus, Hickey is co-director of the Leadership for Life service organization and entertainment chair for Dance Marathon, an organization that raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network. She also has participated in the last three Alternative Spring Break volunteer trips.

Hickey was recently honored as the “mentor of the year” by the Capital Scholars Honors Program where she also works as a writing tutor. She finds it rewarding to watch the students she mentors grow in the classroom.

“That’s been the best part of tutoring for me,” she said.

Overall, Hickey is glad she chose UIS because of the abundance of opportunities she’s been offered on and off campus.

“I definitely would recommend UIS,” she said. “I don’t think I’d have these opportunities anywhere else.”

Following graduation, she plans to earn her master’s degree in social work and begin her career as a school social worker.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Leadership lived: Student embraces advocacy while at UIS

Grace Latimore has learned being a leader is not always easy and that it often requires time and effort. However, the University of Illinois Springfield senior English major says she’s up for the challenge.

“I’ve learned it’s incredibly important to know how to follow other people before you are a leader,” she said. “A leader can’t lead just themselves. You have to have people who trust you and trust your vision and are willing to follow you.”

Latimore is president of the UIS Black Student Union, which aims to educate, uplift and empower African American students. They host regular meetings on campus and sponsor special event, such as the Ebony Ball, each year.

She also volunteers as a mentor for high school students in the 4-H program and is the fiction editor for the Alchemist Review, the literary journal on campus.

Her passion for advocacy recently led her to create a documentary called Beneath the Surface. The film explores what it means to be a minority in higher education.

“It’s been well received,” she said. “I’ve had faculty mentors and people who are really supportive of me and I don’t feel like those same resources are available to a student when there’s 20,000 plus students.”

Latimore chose UIS because it was part of the University of Illinois. She says she’s gotten opportunities here she wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else.

“We are the smallest of the three campuses, which means in many instances we have a ton of resources, but not that many students. So the opportunities per student are increased,” she said.

Following graduation, Latimore would like to work in media relations and possibly become a publicist.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Leadership lived: Student's passion for conservation grows at UIS


David Seidel has watched himself grow as a leader during his four years at the University of Illinois Springfield. At the same time, the biology major’s passion for a career in conservation has been growing thanks to the opportunities UIS has afforded him.

“UIS has shaped me as a leader, as a student, as a future member of society,” he said. “It really has benefited me and I’ve noticed a change in my four years here.”

The Altamont, Illinois native has severed as president of the Biology Club and vice president of Students Allied for a Greener Earth (SAGE) at UIS for the past two years. He's also member of the Capital Scholars Honors Program.

“Being the president of any student organization teaches you a lot about leadership,” he said. “It teaches you how to manage your time, how to schedule events, how to coordinate people and it just immensely helps you with your leadership skills.”

Thanks to his UIS experience, Seidel was able to land an internship with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency in the Water Quality Standards division.

“The internship definitely gave me a good insight into how a government agency works and functions and it also fueled my passion for conservation work,” he said.

Following graduation, Seidel plans to earn a master’s degree in biological sciences and become a restoration ecologist, a person who goes into degraded ecosystems and tries to restore them to their original state.

He says it wouldn’t be possible without the knowledge and skills he’s gained at UIS.

“I’m very thankful,” he said.

UIS students win awards and offices at Model Illinois Government simulation

Several University of Illinois Springfield students were honored during the annual Model Illinois Government (MIG) simulation at the Illinois State Capitol this weekend. The UIS group also received the overall award for Outstanding Large Delegation.

Four students won individual awards for their involvement in MIG. Marc Reiter of Minonk was honored with the Outstanding Contribution to MIG award, Thomas Clatterbuck of Jacksonville won Outstanding First Year Delegate in the Senate, Cole Moriarty of Algonquin won Outstanding House Committee Member and Austin Mehmet of Springfield won Outstanding Moot Court Attorney.

UIS student Simon Andrews of Springfield was elected to statewide office within the Model Illinois Government organization and will serve as Secretary of State. UIS alum David Jones of Richton Park was elected to executive board as Chief Justice.

Thomas Clatterbuck of Jacksonville was elected Senate Assistant Minority Leader, Michael Dahmane of Springfield House Assistant Minority Leader, Kaelan Smith of Clinton House Minority Whip, and Cole Moriarty of Algonquin House Majority Whip.

Each year, students from over 20 colleges and universities around the state gather at the Illinois State Capitol to serve as legislators, staffers, lobbyists, journalists, and officials of the executive branch. Through committee actions, a regular legislative session and a veto session, participants learn the legislative process by doing it.

MIG members get started in the fall term preparing legislation, polishing up parliamentary skills, and organizing the membership into a delegation for the spring conference.

For more information, contact Kenneth Owen, UIS assistant professor of history at 217/206-7439 or