Wednesday, January 17, 2018

UIS Theatre honored at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Region III

Eric Thibodeaux-Thompson (File Photo)
University of Illinois Springfield Associate Professor of Theatre Eric Thibodeaux-Thompson was honored with the faculty service award for Illinois during the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Region III in Indianapolis January 9-14, 2018.

Thibodeaux-Thompson was honored for his outstanding service in providing responses/feedback to various theatre productions around the state of Illinois. Each state chair coordinates sending out faculty from their respective states to attend and respond to productions in the state. The organization (and each state chair) relies on faculty to travel throughout the state to share their expertise with students and colleagues at other institutions in the state.

UIS Theatre has been involved with KCACTF since 2002, and currently enters its mainstage productions as “associate” entries, in order to receive responses/feedback from theatre professors in the state of Illinois. In addition to the verbal response, the respondent and director nominate two students from the production as Irene Ryan Scholarship nominees.

Sherri Mitchell & Krista Massat
UIS students Sherri Mitchell and Krista Massat advanced to the semi-final round in the Irene Ryan Scholarship audition. It’s the first time UIS students have advanced to the semi-final round. They auditioned alongside 239 nominees (and their partners) in the preliminary round from the four state region (which includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin). Out of the 239 nominees, Mitchell was among 48 chosen as semi-finalists. The scholarships are made possible by the generosity of the late Irene Ryan, who had a successful career as a vaudeville, radio and movie actor, prior to her popular portrayal of the lovable and feisty Granny Clampett in “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

A total of 11 UIS students took part in the festival, including Beatrice Bonner, Diamond Dixon (an Irene Ryan Scholarship nominee), David Hecht, Kat Pruitt, Kim Riddle, Katie Simpson, Claire Starling (Ms. Dixon’s Ryan partner) and Aaron Thomas. Kat Pruitt participated as an assistant stage manager for the Irene Ryan preliminary and semi-final rounds of the scholarship auditions, under Irene Ryan coordinator for Region 3, UIS Associate Professor of Theatre Missy Thibodeuax-Thompson.

Started in 1969 by Roger L. Stevens, the Kennedy Center's founding chairman, the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide which has served as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theater in the United States.

Since Fall Semester 2017, UIS has offered a bachelor’s degree in theatre, in addition to a theatre minor. The major in theatre provides students the opportunity to gain knowledge of human cultures and to practice integrative and applied learning through challenging coursework in performance, design, technology, directing, and playwriting, as well as the opportunity to work in various productions as an actor, a director, a playwright, a stage manager, a dramaturg, a designer, a make-up artist, or as a lighting, sound, or props technician.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Leadership lived: Men’s basketball player learns lessons on and off the court

As Vince Walker puts it, first and foremost “I love basketball!” The University of Illinois Springfield junior communication major is helping lead the UIS Prairie Stars men’s basketball team during a successful start to the 2017-18 season.

On campus, Walker is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), the University Bible Fellowship (UBF) and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

Walker and a group of men’s basketball players recently visited HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital in Springfield where they handed out toys and visited with kids who spent time in the hospital during the holidays.

“I hope that our presence there at least gave them kind of a distraction and took their mind off of the current situation,” said Walker. “As student-athletes here at UIS, we’re really fortunate, so it’s good to give back.”

Last summer, Walker also worked with children from the Springfield-area as an instructor for a UIS Basketball Summer Camp. He and other team members taught boys and girls entering 3rd through 8th grades the fundamentals of the game.

“They had a lot of enthusiasm and will to learn the game from guys like us who were kind of in their shoes and made it to the college level, so it was really fun,” he said.

As an upperclassman on the UIS men’s basketball team, Walker says he’s learned to lead by example and has helped to guide new players entering the program.

“I try to do my best to make sure I’m (leading by example), so the younger kids on the team kind of pick up on that,” said Walker “We’re not only trying to be good this year as a team, we’re trying to build a culture, so we can be good for the ensuing years.”

Walker says he’s still deciding what he wants to do following graduation from UIS. However, he’s considering following in the footsteps of his father, Bill Walker, the head coach for the UIS men’s basketball team.

“I’ve done a pretty good job setting myself up for some future things, maybe coaching, kind of like my dad,” he said.

Walker says he’s glad he chose the University of Illinois Springfield and feels he’s getting a quality education in the classroom and on the court.

“I think UIS is a great school to go to,” he said. “It’s really a welcoming environment. We’ve got some great mentors, professors, coaches, so it’s the whole package.”

Monday, January 08, 2018

UIS Associate Professor Marcel Yoder receives faculty mentor honor from NCAA

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced that University of Illinois Springfield Associate Professor of Psychology Marcel Yoder is the 2017 Dr. Dave Pariser Faculty Mentor Award recipient.

This award, named in honor of Physical Therapy Professor Dr. Dave Pariser, honors faculty members at Division II institutions for their dedicated support and mentorship of student-athletes; and who demonstrate the same commitment to Division II student-athletes' lifelong learning, competition, and well-being as Dr. Pariser.

"It is a great honor to be selected for the Dr. Dave Pariser Faculty Mentor Award," said Yoder. "Having a positive impact on the lives of all students, including student-athletes, is very important to me. College is an incredible time in our students' lives. It is full of challenges and triumphs, but nothing great happens without the help of others. We all need the encouragement, guidance, and acceptance of others to help us become the people we are meant to be. I feel that my primary purpose is to be one of the people who helps our student athletes become the people they are meant to be."

Yoder has been the Faculty Athletic Representative (FAR) at UIS since 2004. In his role as FAR, Yoder helps to ensure student-athlete welfare and the academic integrity and institutional control of the athletics program.

"I know that there are many faculty nation-wide who are doing terrific things with student-athletes, and I'm just one of many. I feel very lucky and I'm very grateful to have the opportunity to work with the student-athletes at UIS."

Yoder was nominated by former UIS student-athlete and National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) Representative, Ashley Beaton. In her nomination, Beaton referenced Yoder's energy and passion for helping student-athletes find methods of reducing stress, effective communication, and finding success in their sport and school.

"We have the best student-athletes in the nation. There is no other group I'd trade them for. They are committed to school, athletics, the community, and each other. They are shining examples of the best that college athletics has to offer. If I could chose to be the FAR at any school, I'd choose UIS because of them. It's a privilege to be able to do what I do with them."

Yoder will be recognized at the 2018 NCAA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana on January 19th.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Leadership lived: Junior leads new student organization while boosting school spirit at UIS

University of Illinois Springfield junior elementary education major Maddie Cullick admits she’s busy. She’s leading a new student organization, while cheering for the UIS Prairie Stars and working at the Cox Children’s Center on campus.

Cullick is the president of the Legion of Ladies, a student organization founded in spring 2017 and made up of about 40 female students. The organization is focused on empowering women, community service, friendship, bonding and leadership.

As president of Legion of Ladies, Cullick schedules meetings, coordinates events and serves as a mentor to many of the younger women in the organization.

“I’ve definitely learned how to be a positive role model to the people in the organization and I think it’s definitely helped prepare me, in general, about how to make decisions and how to be a good leader.”

As part of Legion of Ladies, Cullick helped organize and collect food for the Central Illinois Foodbank during Trick or Treat for Canned Goods. The team collected 6,000 pounds of food and won second place in the competition. The group has also planned or co-sponsored numerous social events on campus.

As a UIS cheerleader, Cullick is passionate about school spirit. She has been cheering since her freshman year at UIS and has found it to be a rewarding experience.

“It’s just been a great opportunity to get involved on campus,” she said.

Cullick is also the campus relations chair on the executive board of Dance Marathon, a student volunteer organization that raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network. She is a member of the Capital Scholars Honors Program where she is a peer tutor and Kappa Delta Pi, the international honor society in the field of education, and Alpha Lambda Delta, a national academic honor society.

“UIS overall has taught me a lot about leadership. I’ve definitely learned how to become a leader because of UIS. I think it will definitely help me in the future, especially going into a teaching role.

Following graduation from UIS, Cullick plans to become a first grade teacher. She feels confident that the skills she’s learned at UIS will serve her well in the classroom.

“My UIS experience overall has been life changing,” she said. “I think it’s just been a very great experience and I couldn’t have hoped for anything better.”