Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Leadership lived: Student helps plan Alternative Spring Break trip

For the past three years, University of Illinois Springfield psychology major Hailey Hawkins has spent her spring break volunteering with the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) student organization. However, this year was a little different. As president of ASB, she helped select the destination and organize the trip.

“It’s definitely different than how most college students spend spring break, but it’s a great experience and I wouldn’t change it for anything,” she said.

Hawkins and a group of 25 UIS student spent their spring break helping with eco-restoration projects along the Florida Panhandle Gulf Coast. They helped with an oyster relief project where they bagged oysters to put back into the Gulf of Mexico, in an effort to prevent coastal erosion. They also shoveled rocks and cleaned roofs for non-profit organizations.

“I’ve had a different experience all three years during spring break, but it’s a lot of fun,” said Hawkins. “I get to meet new people. I really love volunteering and helping others.”

In past years, Hawkins has helped feed the homeless in New York City during Alternative Spring Break and helped with ecological sustainability projects in Biloxi, Mississippi.

On campus, Hawkins is a member of the Capital Scholars Honors Program and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She has played on the UIS women’s soccer team for the past three years.

“I absolutely love being on the soccer team,” she said. “It’s definitely challenging. It keeps me very busy, but I love the team aspect of it and traveling. I love being pushed and just showing all of the hard work coming together in the end.”

Following graduation from UIS, Hawkins wants to apply to the Peace Corps. She knows the experiences she’s had at UIS will help her in the future.

“I’m very glad that I decided to come to UIS,” she said. “I’ve loved the campus and the experience ever since I’ve been here. The fit has just felt so right and there’s been so many opportunities for me here on campus.”

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Leadership lived: Student finds passion for music and research at UIS

The University of Illinois Springfield is helping Alex Skarr grow his academic and musical talents. The senior political science and sociology/anthropology major is a member of the UIS Choir and sings without accompaniment in the acapella group.

“Being a part of the choir, I consider myself to be one of the leaders in the section. I come from a very good music program in high school and being part of the choir here has really led me to develop my leadership abilities, particularly in the acapella group,” he said.

Skarr is a member of the Capital Scholars Honors Program, the research society (a student group on campus that promotes research) and works for the Undergraduate Research Support Program where he helps plan and run the Student Technology, Arts & Research Symposium (STARS) and the U of I Undergraduate Research Day at the Illinois State Capitol.

He has been working closely with a former UIS faculty member on a sociology research project about social movements. Later this year, he’ll present his research at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research at the University of Memphis and at the Midwest Sociological Society annual conference.

“I think that’s the great thing about UIS, the small campus we have where faculty really care about their students and they really want students to succeed,” he said.

Following graduation from UIS, Skarr would like to work with high school students teaching music. Ultimately, he’d like to become a college sociology professor.

“I really found sociology here at UIS,” he said. “I came in as just a political science major, but I really found sociology was something I really liked.”

Skarr is grateful for all of the opportunities he’s had at UIS and feels well prepared for his future academic career.

“(UIS) just gives you so many opportunities to be a leader, if you want to be a leader. There’s so many opportunities to get out there and do what you like, find something you’re passionate about and become a leader in that,” he said.

Monday, March 06, 2017

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.

Two UIS students were elected to statewide office within the Model Illinois Government organization. Caitlin Osborn of Edwardsville will serve as treasurer and Donnie Lewis of Decatur will serve as comptroller.

Three students were named to leadership spots within the house and senate. Keith Williams II of Chicago was named assistant majority leader in the senate, David Wilson of Illinois City was named minority whip in the senate and Cole Moriarty of Algonquin was named majority whip in the house.

Payton Raso of North Liberty, Iowa was named the Outstanding First Year Delegate. Austin Mehmet of Springfield and Nathan Hoffman of Springfield reached the finals of the Moot Court competition.

Each year, students from more than 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