Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Leadership lived: Student makes service part of her life and future career

University of Illinois Springfield sophomore business administration and accountancy major Abbie Varble loves to give back to her community. She enjoys helping others who are in need and has made volunteering a big part of her life.

At UIS, Varble is co-president of the Habitat for Humanity Club, a resident assistant and member of the Leadership for Life Service Program. She is also a peer mentor for the Capital Scholars Honors Program, a member of the Christian Student Fellowship and plays in the UIS Concert Band.

“I have such a passion for service and doing things for other people, so Habitat and Leadership for Life are a way of showing that to my community,” she said. “Not only talking about it, but actually doing something. It’s just great. I love it.”

The Habitat for Humanity Club recently spent a Saturday volunteering at the Habitat for Humanity of Sangamon County ReStore where they helped move donated items to the floor and sold items to the back, so people could pick them up.

“The ReStore is great because people donate items and when those donated items are sold, that money goes towards building a home for someone who can’t necessarily afford it,” she said. “It’s just a great mission that all comes together.”

Varble grew up in the small town of Marengo, Illinois. She says she chose UIS because she loved the environment and it felt like home.

“I think that being able to go to UIS, where it’s a small environment, you get to know everybody and I love that,” she said. “I love that community we can build with each other.”

Following graduation from UIS, she would like to become an accountant or executive director of a non-profit organization.

“UIS taught me that leadership is something you should not take for granted,” she said. “You have these amazing opportunities in such a small school, that you can reach out to somebody by doing something small. That makes a really big impact, a really big difference.”

Monday, November 20, 2017

Leadership lived: Psychology major helps fellow students succeed in the classroom

University of Illinois Springfield psychology major Patricia Mubirigi is using her personal experience to help fellow students make better decisions when choosing classes.

Mubirigi started taking classes in nursing at a community college, but wasn’t finding the coursework rewarding. An academic adviser suggested she try psychology classes, which she loved. Mubirigi transferred to UIS and now wants to become a college academic adviser.

“I definitely see this as my future career,” she said. “With counseling and advising, that kind of goes hand-in-hand, having that background and being like, I know how you feel. I was in that same situation. I can help you.”

At UIS, Mubirigi is a peer adviser and intern for the Office of Advising Services, Information, and Support (OASIS). In that role, she holds peer advising workshops where she helps students pick the right classes for them and makes sure they’re on track towards graduation.

Mubirigi is also a member of the University Bible Fellowship and a peer educator for InQueery, where she speaks to students about combating homophobia, transphobia, and heterosexism through innovative activities and workshops.

“UIS has been such a blessing to me with the mentorship program, me getting mentorship from other faculty and staff here at UIS, with me mentoring others, my peers,” she said. “That is a great thing to have on your resume when employers look for that.”

Mubirigi, who grew up in Rockford, Illinois, but is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, says she’s learned many lessons about leadership by being involved at UIS.

“You have to be your own leader, kind of take a hand in it,” she said. “Without you taking a hand in in, you can’t be a leader. Without you stepping out and being involved in something that’s uncomfortable or being in a group. You have to take ownership of that.”

Mubirigi says she’s glad she chose to transfer to UIS and encourages other students to attend the school. She says she enjoys the right-sized supportive community at UIS.

“It’s a small community, teachers appreciate who you are and get to know you. Not only do they get to know you, they know your name, they know your face, they know this is what this person wants to be,” she said. “UIS is a great place for growing in leadership.”

Friday, November 17, 2017

UIS online leader Vickie Cook named a 2017 Online Learning Consortium Fellow

Vickie Cook, executive director of the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service (COLRS) at the University of Illinois Springfield has been named to the Online Learning Consortium’s (OLC) 2017 class of fellows. She was recognized during the OLC Accelerate Conference in Orlando, Florida, Nov. 15-17.

“It is an honor to be recognized by the Online Learning Consortium as a 2017 OLC Fellow,” said Cook. “This award represents recognition of my service to the field of online learning and commitment to excellence in online teaching and learning. I am also honored to be included among other UIS recipients who have received this award in past years including Karen Swan, Ray Schroeder and Burks Oakley.”

Recognition as an OLC Fellow is conferred by the OLC Board of Directors on those who have contributed to advancing quality, effectiveness and breadth in online and blended education in areas represented by the OLC Pillars: learning effectiveness, access, faculty and student satisfaction and scale.

"Members of the OLC community continually strive to develop and deliver quality digital learning experiences," said Kathleen S. Ives, D.M., CEO and executive director of the Online Learning Consortium. "This year's class of Fellows and award recipients represent extraordinary examples of the innovation happening in digital teaching and learning today.”

Cook has been actively engaged providing consulting and faculty development with educational leaders across the U.S. and in Mexico. Her work has been published in a variety of national educational publications. She worked as part of a team that authored the University Professionals & Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) Hallmarks of Excellence. She teaches online in the Teaching English as a Second Language concentration of the Masters of Arts in Education program at UIS.

Cook has served on several regional and national committees, as well as having been a long time member of Illinois Council on Continuing Higher Education (ICCHE) serving in multiple roles on the Executive Board; serves as a board member of UPCEA; serves as a mentor for the Association for Continuing and Higher Education (ACHE); is a member of OLC and serves on the Online Learning Journal Review Board.

The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is a collaborative community of higher education leaders and innovators, dedicated to advancing quality digital teaching and learning experiences designed to reach and engage the modern learner – anyone, anywhere, anytime. Additional information can be found at

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Professor Adriana Crocker named the first U of I System Presidential Fellow at UIS

University of Illinois President Timothy L. Killeen has announced that Adriana Crocker, University of Illinois Springfield professor of political science, will serve as the newest Presidential Fellow. Crocker is the first faculty member at UIS to be named a Presidential Fellow.

“Professor Crocker is an award-winning teacher who specializes in Latin American politics, with a strong background in international law and women’s rights, and will work to help the U of I System expand its global reach,” said Killeen.

As a Presidential Fellow, Crocker will work with faculty across the System to promote international student exchanges and research partnerships. She is particularly interested in forging new alliances with global universities that will help reimagine student-focused teaching and learning and make the U of I System one of the world’s most sought-after destinations for both students and scholars.

Crocker joined the UIS faculty in 2006 and teaches comparative politics and international relations courses with an emphasis on Latin American politics. In 2016, she received the distinguished Pearson Faculty Award, which that recognizes a faculty member whose performance exemplifies UIS’s commitment to excellence in teaching and who stands among the very best teachers on campus. Her research focuses on the role of gender quotas and other institutional mechanisms in serving the interests of women in Latin America. She has a law degree from the University of La Plata Argentina and a Ph.D. from Northern Illinois University.

“The Presidential Fellows Program was created to tap into the deep pool of faculty talent at our three universities to help foster initiatives that guide us toward the goals of our Strategic Framework and expand our system-wide service to students and the public good. I am grateful to Professor Crocker for sharing her talents, and hope you will join me in welcoming her to this new, important role,” said Killeen.

The Presidential Fellowship was started in 2015 by President Killeen as a way to stimulate and facilitate projects by faculty members from across the System to help realize institutional goals. The Presidential Fellowship is funded by the Office of the President with appointments typically lasting 12 months.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Leadership lived: Public Health major plans to use theatre passion to educate others

Christopher Vemagiri Marbaniang, a graduate student at the University of Illinois Springfield, hopes to combine his two passions, public health and theatre, to educate people about important health issues.

“I plan to use my skills as an actor and education in public health from UIS to promote health through theatre and TV shows, such as documentaries or film after I graduate from UIS. I believe the best way to communicate health is through entertainment,” he said.

Vemagiri Marbaniang was recently part of the UIS Theatre production of “Machinal” and has appeared in three other productions at UIS. He says theatre and acting have always been a passion for him.

“What I love about theatre is that you can invoke emotion in people and you convey a message when you use your body, your face and your words to inspire people or tell a story through a character that you play,” he said.

At UIS, Vemagiri Marbaniang is treasurer of the Student Government Association, chair of the Student Organization Funding Association, a senator on the UIS Campus Senate, vice president of the UIS Public Health Club, a worship leader for the University Bible Fellowship, member of the UIS Mock Trial team and has served as a host for the International Festival since 2015.

Vemagiri Marbaniang also interns with the Office of Health Care Regulation at the Illinois Department of Public Health through the UIS Graduate Public Service Internship Program (GPSI).

“What brought me to UIS is the Graduate Public Service Internship Program, which is a very unique program,” he said. “This program has given me the opportunity to work with a state agency downtown and it is in sync with my major.”

Outside of UIS, Vemagiri Marbaniang has worked as a motivational speaker campaigning for healthy living and has rallied against drug and sexual abuse in children, teenagers and young adults. He also has a YouTube Channel where he posts motivational talks about life lessons. He also blogs about beauty pageants and has mentored contestants in public speaking and confidence.

Vemagiri Marbaniang, who was born in India and calls Alabama home, says he’s glad he chose UIS and encourages other students from around the world to consider the university.

“UIS is a small campus, however it is the small campus that gives you a great opportunity to learn more because of the focus that people have on you. You can focus more on your skills and on your instructors and professors can help you hone your skills to become a better professional,” he said.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Regina Bolin honored with the Student Laureate Award from the Lincoln Academy of Illinois

University of Illinois Springfield senior Regina Bolin was honored with the Student Laureate Award from the Lincoln Academy of Illinois on November 11, 2017, at the Old State Capitol in Springfield.

Bolin, a Kansas City, Missouri native, holds a 3.95 GPA and is majoring in business administration with a minor in communication and computer science. She is a member of the UIS Prairie Stars Women’s Soccer team and has been on the Athletics Academic Honor Roll for the past three years.

“I was really surprised when I received the email that explained the award,” she said. “I could not believe that I was picked out of so many students. It really is an honor to receive this award.”

At UIS, Bolin is vice president of the Alternative Spring Break student organization, a member of the Capital Scholars Honors Program, Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She is also on a marketing committee that gives UIS student feedback about social media and advertising.

As a student-athlete, Bolin was nominated for the UIS Athletic Department Newcomer of the Year award and two years ago received the Coaches’ Award for the women’s soccer team.

“I love being on the team because my teammates are awesome and getting to continue to play the sport that I love is great. Luckily, I have had quite a bit of personal success on the team.”

Bolin has gotten the chance to do community service as part of the soccer team and with other organizations. In 2013, she traveled to Washington, Illinois to help clean up tornado damage with the soccer team. She has also volunteered with The Boys and Girls Club and went on the Alternative Spring Break trips to New York City in 2015 where she helped feed the homeless and to the Florida Gulf Coast in 2016 where she helped with environmental restoration projects.

Most recently, she spent a summer studying abroad in Italy where she took classes at the Università Cattolica Del Sacro Cuore. She got a chance to explore the country, learn about the culture and meet new friends.

“Getting to study abroad in Milan was a really great experience,” she said. “I learned a lot of new information about sustainability and business, while also gaining different perspectives on topics that I was already introduced to here at UIS. The memories and friends that I made will stick with me forever.”

Following graduation from UIS, Bolin would like to attend graduate school and eventually work in the marketing department of a well-established business. Her ultimate career goal is to work for the Disney Corporation.

“Thankfully, UIS has prepared me for whatever lies ahead,” she said. “No matter what graduate school I go to, what job I have, or how my future family will end up, I will be ready for it all. My experiences, classes, and interactions at the University of Illinois Springfield will help set the base for my goals and aspirations that are to come.”

Each year an outstanding senior from each of the four-year degree-granting institutions of higher learning in Illinois is awarded the Student Lincoln Academy Medallion and thereby becomes a Student Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Student Laureates are honored for their overall excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities.

Friday, November 10, 2017

UIS Chancellor Susan Koch and other leaders honored for their work in support of military veterans

University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch and two other campus leaders were presented with Seven Seals Awards from Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a program of the U.S. Department of Defense, for their efforts to support military/veteran students and staff during a Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 10, 2017.

The other staff members presented with the award were Clarice Ford, UIS vice chancellor for student affairs, and Mark Dochterman, director of the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center.

The awards are in recognition of UIS’ work to increase support for veterans and active duty service members over the past year. Some of the new UIS initiatives include creating graduation cords for veterans, working to reduce/eliminate fees and holds for students taking advantage of military benefits, revitalizing the Military and Veterans Club and establishing the Student Veterans Advisory Committee.

Dochterman also participated in the ESGR Boss Lift in August where he had the opportunity to attend an employer/supporter recognition event and ride in an Illinois Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopter in order to better understand what service members do while on duty.

“We do all we can to make the educational experience at UIS smooth and productive for veterans and active duty service members,” said UIS Chancellor Susan Koch. “We are grateful for their service and for the perspective they bring to the classroom at UIS.”

The UIS staff were nominated for the awards by Stan Zielinski, the long-time Illinois ESGR Committee Central West Area Chair who earned his bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from UIS in December 2016. Zielinski passed away in September.

Attending for the Illinois ESGR Committee were volunteers Dr. Allan Woodson, Col (Ret) Tom Murgatroyd, and Dave MacDonna along with MAJ Loren Easter, Illinois ESGR Program Coordinator and Tom Korth, Program Support Specialist. MacDonna serves as Public Information Officer for the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.

This semester, there are more than 300 students who attend UIS who are in the military or have veterans’ status.

The ESGR Seven Seals Award recognizes significant individual initiative and support for National Guard and Reserve Component members.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Leadership lived: Student learns how to protect the environment at UIS

Growing up in the small town of Altamont, Illinois, Jake Seidel spent a lot of time working outdoors. He brought his passion for the outdoors to the University of Illinois Springfield where he’s now learning how to protect the environment as a biology major.

At UIS, Seidel is president of the Biology Club, a member of the UIS Cross Country and Track and Field teams, the Capital Scholars Honors Program, Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity, Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society and Students Allied for a Greener Earth (SAGE). He is also a voting member on the Green Fee Committee and has worked as a lab assistant and a science tutor.

“Restoring and keeping our environment preserved has always been a focal point for me and my studies,” he said. “Hopefully, if I can get paid to go outside and have fun, that’s the end goal for me. I hope to get my master’s degree and go into the wildlife management field.”

Seidel has conducted wetland research at the Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon with UIS Biology Professor Michael Lemke and Associate Professor of Chemistry Keenan Dungey. He also completed summer internships with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Illinois Natural History Survey.

“I’ve had a couple of internship opportunities already through UIS and being out here and doing actual work, you get to learn about what you’re getting into,” he said. “You get to show employers you’re actually able to go out there and do the work.”

As part of the Biology Club, Seidel regularly volunteers to help with environmental restoration projects. He’s currently leading UIS students in restoring Jubilee Farm, an ecology and spirituality center located west of Springfield. Students are working to remove bush honeysuckle, a plant not natively found in Illinois, so that native Illinois plants can grow on the site.

“Coming out here at eight in the morning and getting scratched, getting thorns in you, it is hard work, but it is valuable work,” he said. “This is our third service project this year so far. We’ve got three more work days out here.”

Seidel says he’s glad he chose UIS because of the opportunities he’s gotten to work with faculty, intern with professionals in the field and volunteer with environmental service projects.

“There are so many networking opportunities as well as service opportunities where I can go out and get some actual real-world experience,” he said. “That translates directly into getting a job later on in life. It’s been an extremely valuable opportunity for me here at UIS.”

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Krystal Wilson wins 2017 CARE Award

Krystal Wilson, catering supervisor in UIS Food Service, has been awarded the 2017 Chancellor’s Award to Recognize Excellence in Civil Service (CARE).

The award is the highest honor annually awarded to a Civil Service staff member at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Chancellor Susan J. Koch announced the winner of the award during a breakfast on November 2, 2017. She also thanked all civil service staff members for their dedication to UIS.

Wilson has worked for food service for 26 years. She credits her former supervisor, Brian Patton, and her student workers for serving as her inspiration.

“They make me all want to excel every day,” said Wilson.

“Hospitality is her job and she makes the extra effort to be excellent,” said one nominator. “Her wonderful attitude makes every event wonderful.”

If you have attended a catered event on campus, chances are you’ve experienced Krystal Wilson’s exceptional service.

“We have all attended events where the rush of hungry people sometimes causes stress and the crisis of a dropped water glass or plate,” wrote a nominator. “Despite the press of service, Krystal is armed with an excellent attitude and sense of humor. Her calm demeanor minimizes any crisis. She makes it all fun.”

“Although hospitality is part of Krystal’s job, she makes the extra effort to exemplify and demonstrate the highest standards of the industry,” said a nominator.

“Krystal consistently chooses to extend herself and services at every opportunity, she is Leadership Lived in action.”

Krystal listed out 12 qualities she believes are important for a UIS employee to embody.

1. To be ambitious and go the extra mile.
2. To be confident, take risks and seek the challenges.
3. To be culturally fit.
4. To be a good communicator.
5. To have leadership skills.
6. To be committed and reliable.
7. To be honest.
8. To be a team player.
9. To stay positive.
10. To be enthusiastic.
11. To be self-driven.
12. To be humble.

“We can all learn from Krystal,” said a nominator.” “It’s a choice. The choice is up to you and me. Let’s choose to be leaders, like Krystal.”

Other Civil Service employees nominated for the award include: Julie Atwell, office support specialist for AAS/English/History/Modern Languages; Marlena Constant, child care associate at UIS Cox Children's Center; Gwen Cribbett, admissions and records officer for UIS Admissions; John Freml, IT tech association for the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service; Elizabeth Huffines, administrative aide for the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs; Pamela McGowan, staff clerk for the Graduate Public Service Internship Program; Jeff Sudduth, IT tech associate for Information Technology Services; Candy Tucker, culinary worker II for UIS Food Service; Michelle Vinson, housing administrator for UIS Residence Life; and Patti Young, office support specialist for the UIS Biology Department.

The winner of the CARE award receives $500, plus a $500 donation made to the campus organization of his or her choice.