Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Leadership lived: Maura Freeman heads campus newspaper, while making sure students feel at home on campus

Maura Freeman has two major leadership roles at the University of Illinois Springfield. The senior communication and English major is editor-in-chief of The Journal, the student newspaper on campus, and is a resident assistant (RA) for the Department of Residence Life.

“What's really cool about our newspaper is that we are editorially independent,” she said. “That means that we get to choose what's in our paper. It is student-led, student-operated. We do have a faculty adviser, but otherwise we're kind of on our own and that means that we're a platform for students to have their voices heard.”

As editor-in-chief, Freeman helps decide what stories the paper covers. She also helps proofread stories and makes decisions about the layout of the paper.

“I've always been really interested in writing and I think that my studies really lent toward me working for the paper,” said Freeman, who started working at The Journal as a columnist.

As a resident assistant, Freeman currently oversees Sunflower Court, a family housing complex. In the past three years, as an RA, she says she’s interacted with more than 150 students and still stays in touch with many of her past residents.

“I love being an RA,” she said. “It was my job before I become editor-in-chief and it's been really rewarding to be able to talk to residents and kind of be there for them.”

Freeman, a Plainfield, Illinois native, says she chose the University of Illinois Springfield because of the small class sizes, quality academic programs and leadership opportunities.

“All of the roles that I've had on campus so far have really challenged me to be a better person and to be a better leader and through it all I've learned so much about myself,” she said.

Following graduation from UIS, she plans to attend graduate school and start her future career in political communication.

“For me that looks like ideally speech writing, preferably at the national level. My dream goal is to write part of the State of the Union address one day,” she said.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Leadership lived: Future counselor enjoys the challenge of the Capital Scholars Honors Program

When Alice Caceres-Turcios was looking for a place to attend college, she knew she wanted to be challenged academically. She found the perfect fit in the Capital Scholars Honors Program at the University of Illinois Springfield.

“I enjoy doing the difficult readings, I enjoy doing papers and I enjoy doing research,” she said “In looking at the Honors Program here at UIS, it really did emphasize interdisciplinarity, which is something that I never really knew about until I got here.”

Caceres-Turcios, a psychology major with a focus on clinical counseling, is now a peer mentor for the Honors Program, helping to guide younger students. She also recently spoke to perspective students during an Honors Program Open House.

“I basically helped answer questions and concerns that they had about what it's like to be in the Honors Program and some of the advantages,” she said.

On campus, Caceres-Turcios works as a Student Ambassador in the Office of Admissions. She gives campus tours to prospective students and families and helps with office tasks and outreach.

She’s also involved in several campus organizations. She is president and mental health advocacy chair for the Psychology Club and is vice president for the National Society of Leadership and Success, an honor society chapter on campus.

However, much of her work focuses on being the president of the PERIOD Club. The club was created two years ago to raise awareness about menstruation.

“It’s not really something that's talked about in our society,” she said. “We usually try to fundraise money to provide products for women in homeless shelters and last semester we actually were able to provide products to two homeless shelters locally.”

Following graduation from UIS, she would like to become a grief counselor or a college counselor at either a university or a high school.

She’s glad she made the decision to come to UIS.

“(UIS) has taught me a lot about myself,” she said. “When I first came here I was pretty shy, but because of the amount or responsibility and the amount of opportunities since I've gotten to UIS it really taught me that I am capable of doing great things.”

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Three journalists to be inducted into the UIS Public Affairs Reporting Hall of Fame

Three Springfield educated journalists are the newest inductees into The Bill Miller Public Affairs Reporting (PAR) Hall of Fame at the University of Illinois Springfield. Trif Alatzas of Baltimore Sun Media, Patty Culhane of Al Jazeera and Natasha Korecki of POLITICO are the 2019 inductees. The award-winning journalists’ experiences range from bridging print to digital, to reporting from the military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and covering the criminal trials of two consecutive Illinois governors.

Trif Alatzas is publisher and editor-in-chief of Baltimore Sun Media. A 1989 graduate of the PAR program, he interned in the Illinois State Capitol with United Press International and Gannett News Service. Under his leadership, Baltimore Sun Media has been recognized with more than 40 national awards including being named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize three times during the past four years.

Patty Culhane joined Al Jazeera in 2009. Before joining she worked as a correspondent for MSNBC/NBC covering the Bush administration. She has been a journalist for 24 years, working in Iowa, Illinois and Norfolk, Virginia where she covered the U.S. military, travelling extensively through the Middle East covering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She is a 1995 graduate of the PAR program.

Natasha Korecki is a national correspondent for POLITICO, covering the 2020 presidential race. Before that, she authored and launched POLITICO’s Illinois Playbook. She previously worked as chief political writer at the Chicago Sun-Times covering federal courts and law enforcement during a golden age of political corruption prosecutions in Chicago. Korecki reported on the criminal trials of two consecutive governors – George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich – and created the “Blago Blog,” which drew a national following. She is the author of “Only in Chicago” (Agate) based on the Blagojevich probe and trials. Korecki is a 1997 graduate of the PAR program.

An induction ceremony will be held on April 29 at 6:30 p.m. in the Conservatory Room of the Inn at 835, located at 835 S. 2nd St. in Springfield. Register online at or call 217-206-7163. Charles Wheeler III, the retiring director of the PAR program, will make closing remarks on the status of state government reporting.

The PAR Hall of Fame honors program graduates who have had distinguished careers in journalism and recognizes the contribution the UIS PAR program has made to journalism and to the state of Illinois. The PAR Hall of Fame is named in honor of Bill Miller, an award-winning journalist who served as the PAR program’s director for 19 years. The PAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is sponsored by NPR Illinois, the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership, Illinois Times, the Illinois Press Association and the UIS Office of Advancement.

The UIS Public Affairs Reporting program is a one-year, professionally-oriented master's degree program that prepares students to become working reporters covering public affairs in its broadest sense — informing readers, listeners and viewers about ongoing events and activities that impact the public.

For more information, contact Nichol Timms with the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership at 217-206-7163 or

Leadership lived: Musically gifted student helps international students feel welcomed at UIS

Samantha Hwang transferred to the University of Illinois Springfield because she wanted to be part of the UIS Music Program. She’s played the violin since she was in elementary school and was offered a Camerata Music Scholarship at UIS.

“Playing the violin is a way that I can express myself without actually speaking,” she said. “I'm kind of shy in that way, but the violin is my way of showing the world what I have to say.”

Hwang, a sociology and anthropology major, is now the concert master for the UIS Orchestra. She is also an International Student Ambassador and works part-time at Brookens Library.

“I really like being an International Student Ambassador because it presents so many opportunities that I never would have had otherwise,” she said. “I get to plan events and I get to help bring people together, which I think is the best part of being an International Ambassador.”

Hwang’s parents are from Taiwan. She was born in Indiana and has called Springfield home for the past 10 years. She’s also lived in other places around the world.

“Even though I'm not an international student here, I've lived in China before, so I know what it's like to be in a completely foreign place,” she said. “I really, really want to make it my mission to make people feel welcome and at home here.”

Following graduation from UIS, Hwang wants to enter the workforce and earn her master’s degree in counseling. She’d like to work in higher education or as an event planner.

“UIS has taught me many things, but above all I think it is the leadership role,” she said. “Before I was very introverted because there were so many people, but here at UIS there's a balance between leadership and following.”

Hwang says she’ll always remember the time she’s spent at UIS.

“I'm glad I came to UIS, for sure, because it is a U of I campus,” she said. “I've met so many great people and people that I'll never be able to forget and people I'm grateful for and the experience here has helped me grow very much as a person.”

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Five UIS students honored with awards at the Model Illinois Government simulation

Five University of Illinois Springfield students were honored with awards during the annual Model Illinois Government (MIG) simulation at the Illinois State Capitol on March 1-3, 2019.

Aislinn Diaz of Chicago was named outstanding committee person in the senate, Bryce Thomas of Hawthorn Woods won the award for outstanding chair in the senate, Brock Titlow of Kewanee won the outstanding staff member award, and Ben Szalinski of Mundelein and Andrew Cunningham of Decatur won the outstanding Moot Court team award.

Three UIS students also served in statewide offices during the Model Illinois Government Simulation. Chloe Compton of Troy served as president of the senate, Cale Bergschneider of Springfield served as comptroller and Collin Cisco of Springfield served as treasurer.

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, MIG faculty advisor and UIS associate professor of history, at 217/206-7439 or

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Leadership lived: Transfer student helps prospective students and parents learn about UIS

As a transfer student, Cambry Bennett says she had a smooth transition to the University of Illinois Springfield thanks to the UIS Admissions Office. Now she’s helping prospective students learn about UIS as a Student Ambassador.

As a Student Ambassador, Bennett gives campus tours to high school students and their parents who are interested in attending the University. She is also a part of UIS Preview Days where large groups of prospective students visit campus.

“I have the privilege of showing them around,” said Bennett. “First, we introduce ourselves, just to get familiar with them, see what they're interested in so we can help show them things that would specifically interest them in the campus.”

Bennett, a liberal students major, says she enjoys meeting new students and learning about their educational goals.

“I think it's very cool to see them when they do accept UIS and we see them on campus and they say 'hey you gave the tour'! I think that's really cool to be a part of because you're already part of their experience at UIS before they even start,” she said.

As a commuter student, Bennett lives in her hometown of Pawnee, Illinois and drives 20 minutes to campus each day.

“I'm able to still be involved in my community as well as share my community here at UIS,” she said.

On campus, Bennett is a member of the Commuter Student Association and sings in the UIS Music Choir Ensemble. She’s also a member of International Student Fellowship, a group which aims to help international students feel welcome in Springfield.

This past summer, Bennett traveled to seven foreign countries with the group Youth With A Mission as part of an educational Christian mission trip.

“It allowed me to teach music as well as teach English through the music abilities and to also learn different cultures, different languages and things like that,” she said.

Following graduation from UIS, Bennett would like to continue to travel world-wide and teach English through mission work.

“I believe UIS has been a key point to what I want to do in the future and I believe that it has helped me to be able to grow in my experiences of not only learning to be a leader, but also to be able to work with people. I'm so glad I made the decision to come to UIS,” she said.

Monday, February 25, 2019

UIS honors Randall F. Dunn and Larry Golden with alumni awards for achievement and service

Larry Golden (Left) and Randall F. Dunn (Right)
The University of Illinois Springfield honored the significant achievements and contributions of Randall F. Dunn and Larry Golden during the annual Alumni Gala on Friday, February 22, 2019, at the UIS Student Union.

The 2019 Alumni Achievement Award for outstanding success and national or international distinction in one’s business, profession or life’s work was presented to Randall F. Dunn, a southwest Florida entrepreneur and community leader. The award is the highest honor bestowed upon alumni of the University. Dunn earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UIS, then Sangamon State University, in the 1970s.

Upon completion of his graduate degree, Dunn relocated to southwest Florida and within 18 months, partnered with a radiologist to establish the Oncology Center, a radiation therapy and medical oncology cancer treatment center. Dunn also administered Radiology Associates, a hospital-based radiology practice. Dunn and his partner sold their holdings to Navix Diagnostix (Navix Imaging), a merger which saw Dunn become senior vice president of Navix Imaging, Inc., overseeing regional growth and expansion.

Fueled by a passion for entrepreneurship and leadership, Dunn went on to found multiple organizations devoted to medical practice management; home, condominium, medical facility and hotel/motel development; and personal and business finance.

Dunn’s passion for leadership has made a significant impact on his local community in southwest Florida. Dunn is credited with leading the Punta Gorda Revitalization Committee; YMCA; American Cancer Society of Florida; United Way; and has helped found, or served as a member of, other non-profit, community focused organizations including his local Chamber of Commerce, where Dunn was awarded Pacesetter of the Year.

Dunn is a past recipient of the UI Loyalty Award for Exceptional Alumni Service; served on the Development Advisory Board and the National Commission on the Future of UIS; initiated the Capital Steps Scholarship Fund drive, financing its first scholarship; and is a former member of the UI Alumni Association board of directors. His daughter, Rebecca (Dunn) Albertini, is also a UIS graduate, having earned both a business administration and MBA from the University.

The 2019 Distinguished Service Award for extraordinary commitment, dedication and service to the advancement of the University of Illinois was awarded to Springfield resident Larry Golden, UIS emeritus professor of political science and legal studies and founding director of the Illinois Innocence Project. The award is presented to individuals or couples whose consistent, exceptional and meritorious service has made significant impact on the University’s overall welfare and advanced its mission.

Golden is a founding faculty member of the University who earned his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Minnesota, who has dedicated his life and career to teaching and activism on the issues of civil rights and liberties, and of law, inequality and justice.

When Golden first arrived to Springfield, he helped organize efforts to address school desegregation, and the form of local government and representation.

Golden helped found The Springfield Project (TSP), which seeks to unite the city as a community by working to improve the quality of life for all throughout its neighborhoods. Founded upon principles of a similar organization based in Atlanta, Georgia, a service model was implemented to help improve Springfield in areas of most need.

Golden helped found the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project, the forerunner to the Illinois Innocence Project (IIP). The IIP seeks to bring justice to the wrongfully convicted through advocacy, education and reform of the criminal justice system. UIS undergraduates work alongside law students from the state’s public law schools and attorneys to investigate and legally pursue claims of innocence. Golden has been instrumental in securing more than $3 million in grants for IIP in the past 8 years.

Golden retired from full-time teaching and continues to volunteer with IIP. In addition, Golden contributes to a course on conviction of the innocent; and presents on the topic of wrongful conviction and the work occurring across the country to free the innocent.

His distinguished service and leadership are recognized nationally. Golden is a former executive board member of the National Innocence Network, the organization linking more than 50 innocence projects around the country. Golden is also a past recipient of the Courageous Voices Award, presented by the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs. The award recognizes individuals who are at the forefront of pressing issues affecting the community.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Leadership lived: International student gains professional experience thanks to the Graduate Public Service Internship Program

Geetu Sharma came to the United States to be part of the Graduate Public Service Internship Program at the University of Illinois Springfield.

“It's a phenomenal work experience, which is provided by UIS to all the grad students,” she said. “We get the opportunity by interviewing with some of the state agencies and they hire us.”

In October 2018, Sharma started interning in the Office of Health Promotion at the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) where she works to prevent cases of youth suicide.

“I'm currently assisting with the youth suicide prevention project, along with researching what other states are doing about suicide prevention,” she said. “I'm also part of suicide alliance committee here.”

Sharma, who is earning her master’s degree in public health at UIS, is also active on campus as the Graduate Student Senator on the Student Government Association and president of Asian Student Organization. She previously worked as an International Student Ambassador where she helped welcome new students and planned events.

“Coming to the United States was always my dream,” she said. “Being here I have learned how to communicate with people, how your voice is important, along with that how this whole professional world works in America.”

Sharma was working as a dentist in New Delhi, India when she found out about the Graduate Public Service Internship Program from two friends who attend UIS. She wanted to gain more professional experience in the United States.

“They both told me about UIS,” she said. “They told me about this Graduate Public Service Internship Program and that was the only reason that I came to UIS.”

Following graduation from UIS, Sharma would like to work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States.

“I am really blessed to be at UIS because whatever UIS gave me in this past one year, it's amazing,” she said. “Like it was not easy, but whatever I've achieved is something I really appreciate and I will just say I'm blessed.”

Friday, February 15, 2019

Leadership lived: Communication major helps fellow students land jobs through her work at the Career Development Center

Kia Jones has become an expert in reviewing resumes and cover letters. The University of Illinois Springfield junior communication major works at the Career Development Center where she helps any student who walks through the door make sure they’re ready to apply for a job.

“I really enjoy helping people,” said Jones. “I've actually had a couple of students who have come up to me after they came in and say they got the job after I reviewed their resume and cover letter. Just seeing them kind of furthering their careers and achieving their goals is really fulfilling for me.”

As a student worker at the Career Development Center, Jones also helps out with big events, such as the Career Connections Expo.

In December 2018, Jones was honored with the Student Affairs Employee of the Month award for her above and beyond work helping other students.

“I was kind of surprised by it, but I was more pleasantly surprised,” she said. “It really just kind of symbolizes student workers who are actually trying to actively improve not only the office, but the students that they assist as well.”

On campus, Jones is also a member of the Black Student Union, where she’s involved in Black History Month event planning, and a member of the Capital Scholars Honors Program. She says she’s learned many lessons about leadership through her involvement on campus.

“UIS has taught me that anyone can be a leader,” she said. “I was a person who I didn't mind necessarily being a leader, but I also kind of stepped back and let other people take the lead. But what (UIS) taught me is that if you want to you can take that leadership role and there's no cookie cutter person that looks like a leader.”

Following graduation from UIS, Jones would like to work in media production and possibly broadcasting. She feels she made the right decision attending UIS.

“I'm a firm believer that things happen for a reason,” she said. “So I came here for a reason. I am close to being that person who I have always wanted to be. The growth that I've received from being at UIS, I don't think I would have been able to get anywhere else."

Monday, February 11, 2019

UIS Master's Thesis awards presented to three Springfield residents

The University of Illinois Springfield Research Board has honored three former graduate students, all Springfield residents, with awards for their master’s thesis projects for the 2017-2018 academic year. The awards were presented during a ceremony on February 7, 2019, at the UIS Student Union.

Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award 

Sarah Lindholm of Springfield was presented with the Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award. She graduated from UIS in July 2018 with a master’s degree in biology with a specialization in ecology and evolution. Her thesis study investigated long-term changes in the floristic quality of the reconstructed tallgrass prairie at the Emiquon Preserve, owned by The Nature Conservancy.

Lindholm began attending UIS to pursue a bachelor’s in biology. She says the quality of education she received from her passionate professors inspired her to double major in environmental studies, and to eventually pursue a graduate degree. Throughout her academic career, she says, the mentorship, opportunities and hands-on experiences provided by UIS professors inspired her to challenge herself, find the fields of study she was passionate about and gain direct experience in them.

While an undergraduate, she was able to volunteer in biology labs, intern at the Illinois State Museum and work for the Environmental Studies Department. During her graduate degree she worked as an aquatic biologist at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency through the Graduate Public Service Internship Program (GPSI), and at the Illinois River Biological Station (part of the Illinois Natural History Survey).

Her thesis was chaired by Amy McEuen and Hua Chen, both associate professors of biology, and Megan Styles, assistant professor of environmental studies.

Lindholm now works as an environmental scientist and geographical information systems analyst at Northwater Consulting. She specializes in water resources, watershed planning, pollution reduction and habitat mitigation and restoration. Her future scholarly interests include publishing her thesis study and pursuing a Ph.D. in ecology.

Department Awards 

Justin Blandford of Springfield was honored with the History Department award for his master’s thesis entitled “I Write Practically to Set You an Example: Sarah Davis, Education and Civil Society.”

He earned his master’s degree in history from UIS in May 2018. His thesis was chaired by Holly Kent, associate professor of history.

In July 2018, Blandford was appointed Illinois Governor’s Mansion Curator after having served as a Historic Site Superintendent for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources since 2004. Most recently he directed operations at six nationally significant state-owned historic sites: Lincoln’s Tomb, Veterans Memorials, Old State Capitol, Lincoln Law Office, Vachel Lindsay Home and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Dana House.

As the curator of the Governor’s Mansion he is responsible for creating and implementing the mansion’s new strategic vision, which includes a greater focus on history, education, creative arts and the visitor experience. Blandford leads the development of events and marketing programs to attract visitors to the mansion, which is the third oldest Governor’s mansion in use today.

Lauren McPherson of Springfield was honored with the English and Modern Languages Department award for her master’s thesis entitled “Possibility, Engaged and Embodied: A Pedagogy.”

McPherson graduated from UIS in May 2018 with a master’s degree in English. Her thesis chair was Stephanie Hedge, UIS assistant professor of English.

Her research focused on teaching strategies foregrounding critical pedagogies, poetics, and embodiment in the classroom. She now proudly serves as an adjunct composition instructor at UIS. When she isn’t in the writing classroom, she is a registered nurse in the HSHS St. John’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

The Outstanding Master’s Thesis/Project Award is funded primarily through an endowment established by Nancy and Charles Chapin, along with gifts from other donors. In addition to providing funding for the Outstanding Master’s Thesis/Project Award, Charles and Nancy Chapin have provided support for Brookens Library, the Chancellor’s Fund for Excellence and scholarships.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Leadership lived: UIS political science major leads effort to lobby state lawmakers on behalf of students

As a political science major, Ben Szalinski says he chose the University of Illinois Springfield because of its smaller class sizes and location in the state capital. He’s using that location to his advantage as president of the Student Advocacy Coalition.

“The Student Advocacy Coalition is a group of student lobbyists,” he said. “Our job is to go to our legislators and talk to them about what kind of changes we want to see as college students in the Illinois General Assembly. It's important to be involved because the decisions that legislators make directly impact our education.”

Szalinski, a Mundelein, Illinois native, is active in volunteer efforts as the treasurer of the Alternative Spring Break student organization. He traveled to Houston, Texas to clean up hurricane debris last year and plans to go to Puerto Rico this spring. He is also the community awareness chair for the Leadership for Life Service Organization.

Off campus, Szalinski is completing an online internship with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs where he writes “Veteran of the Day” blog posts highlighting what veterans have done in their lives and activities they've done in the community.

“After graduating from UIS, I want to go into a journalism field - work for a major media outlet reporting on different news stories or work as a public relations person,” said Szalinski.

Szalinski also work on campus as an intramural sports supervisor for UIS Campus Recreation and previously was part of Model Illinois Government, a group which holds a state government simulation at the Illinois State Capitol each year.

“UIS has taught me a lot about leadership because it's shown me that if you want to make an impact in the community, you have to be involved, you have to be a leader. I'm glad I came to UIS because I was able to get very involved in the community and have a positive impact.”

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Leadership lived: Senior helps boost school spirit as an intern for UIS Athletics

Nick Reynolds is helping to boost school spirit as a marketing and engagement intern for the University of Illinois Springfield Athletics Department. In that role, he promotes athletic events on social media and serves as a host for promotions during games.

“I’ve always been a big like get everyone to the game and pump them up type of guy,” he said. “In high school, I was the Blue Crew leader for our fan section and so that’s what I’m kind of trying to do here.”

Reynolds, a management major from Jerseyville, Illinois, says he’s also learning important business lessons from his UIS Athletics internship. For example, he helped to set up a $600 half-court basketball shot contest promotion.

On campus, Reynolds also co-founded the first Jewish student organization and has completed several internships in various campus departments.

“You can only learn so much in the classroom and UIS is Leadership lived because you can just go out and do it,” he said. “It’s really helped me become a leader and helped with business expertise and skills.”

Following graduation from UIS, Reynolds plans to become an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. He’s headed straight to boot camp following graduation in May.

“I now know that after the military, I will probably want to go into something like Sports Management,” he said. “I think being an athletic director or something like that would be really cool.”

Reynolds, who is graduating from UIS with his bachelor’s degree in only three years, says he’s glad he came to Springfield.

“It’s a smaller school, so I’ve just been able to fly through my degree in three years because of the small class sizes and because of great professors who know your name,” he said.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

UIS Mock Trial team wins awards at University of Nebraska Invitational

The University of Illinois Springfield Mock Trial team received the Spirit of AMTA (American Mock Trial Association) Award at the first-ever Scarlet and Cream Invitational hosted by the University of Nebraska.

According to the American Mock Trial Association, since 2000 it has awarded the team that best exemplifies its ideals of civility, justice and fair play with the Spirit of AMTA Award. The Spirit of AMTA is awarded to only one team at each tournament and is voted and scored by competing teams.

Andrew Jarmer
In addition, senior Andrew Jarmer of Springfield, was recognized with an Outstanding Attorney award for his competition performance.

The UIS Mock Trial team placed among the top eight teams in the competition.

Members participating include Andrew Jarmer, Adeola Babington and Jade Sisti of Springfield, Chance Austin of Rochester, Jenny Viramontes of Carpentersville, Alexis Campbell of Chicago, Joseph Partain of Iuka and Trenton Newbury of Anna.

Mock Trial is an academic competition that provides students with the opportunity to hone valuable skills, including critical thinking, active listening, public speaking and teamwork through trial simulations. Competitors are also judged on their knowledge of legal practices and procedures.

The American Mock Trial Association serves as the governing body for intercollegiate mock trial competition across the United States. AMTA provides a forum for more than 5,300 undergraduate students each academic year.

For more information on the UIS Mock Trial team, visit their website. Questions may be directed to coach Rex Gradeless at

Four UIS Teacher Education majors write peer reviewed article for Wikipedia

Four University of Illinois Springfield Teacher Education majors recently had their research article published on the website Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia. The students wrote an article on “Mainstreaming” in education as part of an optional final project in Assistant Professor of Teacher Education Jennifer Martin’s TEP 315 class.

Students Ashley Brown and Kelly Mast of Jacksonville, Lauren Reichert of Winchester and Cassidy Yates of Springfield wrote the article, which was peer reviewed by Wikipedia.

“The Wikipedia Student Program is a formalized exercise,” said Martin. “Students must complete a series of training modules, and any writing they do goes through a serious vetting process.”

According to their Wikipedia article, “Mainstreaming” in education is “the practice of placing students with special education services in a general education classroom during specific time periods based on their skills.”

“This assignment allowed me to focus on an area of the education field that I feel passionate about, as well as challenged me to go above and beyond to create something that others would learn from,” said Brown.

“I really enjoyed this project because it gave my research for our course an actual purpose - it motivated me to work at a higher level, because I knew that it would be accessed by anyone wanting to find out more information on the topic,” said Reichert.

Yates added, “It was great to be a part of the process that occurs between the publication of academic journals and the creation of Wikipedia articles.”

Martin became aware of the Wikipedia Student Program two years ago when she attended a conference featuring representatives from the website.

“I learned that writers for Wikipedia tend to reflect dominant/hegemonic narratives. In other words, there are fewer articles on women and people of color, issues of equity, etc,” she said. “At the training, I learned that Wikipedia was looking for more diverse authors of content, and for new authors to rewrite some articles that were told only from a dominant perspective.”

Martin decided to offer the optional final project as a way to promote education equality on the website.

“I am glad that Dr. Martin gave us this option and very grateful that she motivated us and assisted us in the process,” said Mast. “It is rewarding to know that the hard work put forth by my group will be seen by many.”

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Leadership lived: Springfield native becomes a leader on the court in his hometown

As a star basketball player at Springfield’s Lanphier High School, Aundrae Williams knew he wanted to continue his career in his hometown following graduation.

Williams says when University of Illinois Springfield Head Men’s Basketball Coach Bill Walker approached him with an offer to play for the Prairie Stars he knew it was the right fit.

“I kind of already had it in the back of my head knowing I was going to come here,” he said “Just to have the opportunity to play for my hometown, have family members be able to come here and see me play when they can, it was just really and opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

As a sophomore, Williams has become an important part of the Prairie Stars leadership on the court as a point guard directing the team’s offense.

“When you’re a point guard, you’ve pretty much got to be the coach on the court for those guys and it comes with a lot of learning,” he said. “Your IQ of the game has to be at a certain level, so that you know what play you need to call, who needs to get the ball into certain situations and once you start learning that stuff, I think the game doesn’t slow down physically, it slows down mentally. Once you learn that, everything else just opens up for you really.”

Williams, who is majoring in communication, recently had the opportunity to represent UIS at a national three day NCAA Inclusion Forum in Indianapolis. He got a chance to meet other student-athletes from around the country and learn important lessons about leadership.

“It just kind of showed me that athletes have so much more power than they realize and they’re leaders,” he said. “They may not always play all of the time, but people always seem to look up to athletes, so we’ve got to use that power for the right things.”

Following graduation from UIS, Williams hopes to continue his basketball career. He’s proud of the UIS Athletics program, which he says is growing.

“I feel (that UIS is) one of the best universities in the country and I feel like, as far as athletics, we’re on the rise,” he said. “People are starting to realize that UIS is a team that needs to be recognized when it comes to best teams in the GLVC.”