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.”