Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Leadership lived: Sophomore becomes “a big fish in a small pond” at UIS

Sophomore political science major Eric Loera says he chose the University of Illinois Springfield because he knew he could become “a big fish in a small pond.” He wanted to get involved on campus immediately and didn’t want to wait until his junior or senior year.

Loera was elected secretary of the Student Government Association, serves as secretary of the Alternative Spring Break student organization, and is a Capital Scholars Honors Program peer mentor and a member of the Student Advocacy Coalition and Campus Senate.

“The reason I went to UIS is because it is such a small campus,” he said. “It provided me an excellent financial aid package and I just wanted to be closer to the capitol where I figured I’d have a lot more political opportunities and possibly some internships.”

Loera is also involved with the Leadership for Life Service Program where he volunteers up to 40 hours a semester as the public health chair. Recently, he helped to tie hundreds of yellow ribbons on campus trees in support of veterans.

“I’ve always been passionate about volunteering and it’s just something I try to invest myself in, especially at UIS there’s just so many ways to get involved in the community and Leadership for Life has provided so many ways to do that,” said Loera.

He volunteers his spring break to help people in need by participating in Alternative Spring Break. Last spring, Loera went to Houston, Texas with a group of 21 other students to clean up hurricane damage and this spring he’ll be going to Puerto Rico to do the same job.

“It was very fulfilling to be hope to the families down there who have lost so much and to be able to be there in their time of need was fantastic,” he said.

Following graduation from UIS, Loera plans to work in local government in a capacity where he can help provide services to youth and low income individuals.

“I’m really glad I came to UIS because it’s become my home and a place where I’ve made so many great friends and it’s just a place where I continue to flourish,” he said.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Leadership lived: Student finds her voice working for the UIS Women’s Center

Ivy Jimenez says she’s always had a lot to say, but attending the University of Illinois Springfield has given her the confidence to share her thoughts and ideas on important issues.

“UIS has taught me to stand out and be outspoken,” she said. “If I have something to say, I should say it, not just keep it to myself.”

The sophomore pre-nursing major is a student worker at the UIS Women’s Center, a member of the Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS), the Student Nurses’ Association and the Necessary Steps Mentoring Program.

At the Women’s Center, she helps to plan special events, such as the Take Back the Night march and the launch of the “It’s On Us” campaign. She also helps to educate women about sexual assaults, domestic violence and relationships.

“I’m really glad that I’m working here because I would have never seen myself working in a place like this,” she said. “I feel like I’ve come a long way.”

Jimenez says her favorite part about working at the Women’s Center is the relationships she’s formed with other women on campus.

“The relationships that I’ve built here are really rewarding because the people I’ve met here are my family in a way,” she said. “They are there for me and I know that I can count on them. We kind of try and help each other in every way that we can and we’re very understanding.”

Following her sophomore year, Jimenez plans to continue her education as part of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) nursing program, which is based on the UIS campus. After she graduates, she plans to return to her hometown of Chicago and work in the medical field.

Jimenez feels that she’ll be well prepared for her future thanks to her UIS education.

“I definitely think I’ve grown as a person at UIS,” she said.

Hailey Hollinshead honored with the Student Laureate Award from the Lincoln Academy of Illinois

University of Illinois Springfield senior Hailey Hollinshead was honored with the Student Laureate Award from the Lincoln Academy of Illinois on November 17, 2018, at the Old State Capitol in Springfield.

Hollinshead, a Springfield resident and graduate of Rochester High School, holds a 4.0 GPA at UIS and is majoring in biochemistry with a minor in Spanish. She has been on the dean’s list every semester she has attended UIS.

At UIS, she is a member of the Capital Scholars Honors Program, has severed as a resident assistant (RA) for two years, co-founded a student organization aimed at empowering women called the Legion of Ladies and recently started working as a research assistant at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield. She is also working on an undergraduate research project with the UIS Biochemistry Department and previously was a member of the UIS cheerleading and track teams.

“I’m honored to receive this award because it illustrates all of the hard work I have put into bettering myself through my education, creating a positive living, learning community for other students, and giving back to my community by always making myself available to help those around me,” said Hollinshead. “I am very grateful to the Lincoln Academy for recognizing my efforts.”

Hollinshead has earned several academic honors, including being named the Outstanding Chemistry Student of the Year as well as the Outstanding Organic Chemistry Student of the Year. She has also received awards each semester through the Capital Area Scholars Program for her high GPA and was honored with a Board of Regents Scholarship for her academic excellence.

As a resident assistant, Hollinshead was nominated for RA of the month during her first semester of employment, received an evaluation stating she exceeded expectations in leadership and programming, accepted awards for her creative bulletin board decorations and had one of the highest attendance records for student-focused events she helped to plan for Residence Life.

As part of Legion of Ladies, Hollinshead helped to collect more than 6,000 pounds of food, earning second place for the most food collected, during the 2017 Trick or Treat for Canned Goods event on Halloween benefiting the Central Illinois Foodbank. The organization also participated in the UIS Dance Marathon where they raised nearly $500 for the Children’s Miracle Network.

Off campus, Hollinshead has participated in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, volunteers at Concordia Village where she helps seniors with technology questions and has participated twice in the Polar Plunge that benefits Special Olympics Illinois athletes. She’s severed as a Chemistry tutor on campus and has volunteered with several departments when she’s helped to plan events.

“I have achieved in my endeavors at UIS,” she said. “I am a dedicated volunteer, a persistent scholar, a hard worker, and a caring friend. Self-improvement is what I strive for, and I find that I achieve what I work for because I work incredibly hard. I have already become a better writer, communicator, planner, problem-solver, chemist and student after spending my few semesters at UIS.”

Following graduation from UIS, Hollinshead plans to attend medical school and hopes to one day become a dermatologist.

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.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Leadership lived: UIS gives sophomore the chance to work on statewide political campaigns and lead on campus

Political Science major Andrew Cunningham is only in his second year at the University of Illinois Springfield, however he’s already been a part of at least four political campaigns, including a statewide governor’s race.

On campus, Cunningham is the internal vice president for the Student Government Association (SGA), the vice president of the College Republicans, a member of the Student Advocacy Coalition, Campus Senate and is a Capital Scholars Honors Program member and peer mentor.

“Because UIS is a small campus, I’m able to get involved in things I wouldn’t be able to as an underclassman,” he said. “Being a part of SGA is something that most people probably don’t get to do until they’ve really been there a long time. I did that starting as a freshman. That’s something I don’t think I would have gotten anywhere else.”

As the vice president of the College Republicans, Cunningham recently took part in a political debate with members of the College Democrats. The students debated a variety of issues that they believe are important.

“I think the debate gave people the opportunity to see two perspectives and make their own decisions,” he said. “People who agree were able to have their voices heard and then people who disagreed were able to hear something they might not have heard before.”

Cunningham, who is from Decatur, Illinois, says he’s always been politically active.

“I like politics because it allows me to get involved and actually make a difference and not just be a bystander because everybody wants to talk about the news and what goes on in our world, but really being involved in politics gives you a hand in the action,” he said.

Cunningham says he’s learned many lessons about leadership at UIS, including that actions sometimes speak louder than words.

“I think that UIS gives people a unique experience because when we talk about leadership at UIS, it’s not just putting words on papers, it’s actually putting things into action whether it be Student Government, whether it be Student Advocacy Coalition, whatever it is, being a mentor,” he said. “It allows me to live leadership, which is why I enjoy being at UIS because it’s more than just talking. It’s doing.”

Following graduation from UIS, Cunningham plans to attend graduate school and start a career as a legislative aide. He’s also considering a career in public relations or political journalism.

“I’m very happy I came to UIS,” he said. “It’s the place for me. It’s provided me the opportunities I need and I think it’s really preparing me for the next stage in my life.”

Thursday, November 08, 2018

UIS Superintendent of Grounds Brian Beckerman wins the 2018 CARE award

Brian Beckerman, superintendent of grounds for Facilities and Services at the University of Illinois Springfield, has been awarded the 2018 Chancellor’s Award to Recognize Excellence in Civil Service (CARE). Chancellor Susan J. Koch announced the winner of the award during a breakfast on November 8, 2018.

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

Beckerman has been part of the UIS grounds staff for the past 18 years. His nominator describes him as a “self-starter and consummate professional with a tireless work ethic.”

In his role, Beckerman is responsible for managing 746 acres of University property, including water habitats, natural and synthetic turf sports fields, gardens, trees and native grass areas.

“No matter the weather and more often than one would think - no matter the time of day or day of week, Brian gets the job done,” said his nominator. “He truly understands the need for the campus to always look like we’re ‘open for business’ and the importance the campus’ image has on recruiting and retaining students, faculty and staff as well as visitors to campus.”

This past summer, on his own initiative, Beckerman led his grounds team in the building of a pond for Japanese Koi on the east side of the quad. As the Governor's Mansion completed a large scale makeover of their landscape and no longer had a place for their 14 Koi, he saw the opportunity and worked with the Governor Mansion’s staff to have them donated to UIS. The pond includes a small waterfall, stream and wide variety of water garden plants.

Over the past year, Beckerman reorganized the grounds unit, which has streamlined work assignments and oversight. According to his nominator, Beckerman excels in is his attention to detail in the budgeting and management of funds allocated to his department.

“Brian’s efficient and cost effective use of very limited resources, use of recycled materials (e.g. old cigarette butt containers, reuse of demolished concrete, tree waste into wood chips, etc.) and equipment have ‘stretched the dollar’ enabling significant improvements to the University’s grounds despite significant reductions in state funding,” said his nominator.

Beckerman recently started a program to reinforce the campus’ roadway shoulders with compacted gravel to lessen the deterioration of the asphalt edges and to improve appearances. He’s also led the effort to plant 86 new trees on campus over the past year, reconstruct the sand volleyball court in Rec Park, re-landscape and develop the east side of University Hall and assisted in the installation of benches on the quad.

“I am greatly honored that someone thought enough of my contributions to nominate me for this award,” said Beckerman. “I have been here for almost 19 years and I'm not sure I will ever really want to retire. UIS is an amazing place!”

Other Civil Service employees nominated for the award include: Melisa Hatch, Human Resources associate; Chris Hilscher, culinary worker for UIS Food Service; Nikita Hutchings, customer service specialist for University Student Financial Services & Cashier Operations (USFSCO); Connie Komnick, assistant program director for the Volunteer & Civic Engagement Center; Carol Marshall, admissions & records representative; Jamie McGill, building service foreman; Pam McGowan, staff clerk for the UIS Graduate Public Service Internship Program; Erich O’Connor, program coordinator for Brookens Library; MarieJoy Roberts, program/student advisor for the Accountancy Department; and Justin Rose, program/student advisor at the Diversity Center.