Tuesday, December 20, 2005

GPSI helps with future plans

By Melanie Cain

Megan Boyle had just graduated from UIUC with a degree in Political Science and an emphasis in Pre Law. She was in the middle of filling out applications for law school when she heard about the Graduate Public Service Internship program at UIS.

“I have family who work at UIS, and they told me about the program,” says Megan, who is from Chatham. “I also heard about it from one of my family’s friends who used to employ GPSI interns.” Megan decided to apply because she knew she wanted to continue her education after earning her undergraduate degree.

“I was in the middle of applications for law school, and I decided that I might want to try this as well. I figured I would take some time before I went to law school to make sure it was what I wanted to do,” she explains. So Megan enrolled in UIS’ master’s degree program in Public Administration and was accepted into the GPSI program. She was chosen for an internship with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s Legal Division.

In her current position, Megan is assigned a variety of duties that will help prepare her for law school or a career down the road. She does case briefings, schedules meetings, conducts legal research, investigates accidents, and looks into new incidents. She is also involved in a new “Right to Know” act that will require companies to inform people if they are responsible for a toxic spill that will have an effect on their land.

Asked about her overall experience with the internship and program in general, Megan had nothing but good things to say. “Until I started the GPSI program, I didn’t realize how highly regarded it was. When people ask what I am currently doing, and I tell them I'm in GPSI, they always say what a great program it is,” she says. “I know people who have gotten jobs from this internship, and those who did not get a job directly have gone on to succeed in other areas because of the experience they have gained.”

Megan feels that she made the right decision in choosing GPSI before going on to law school. “This internship is helping me to decide what I want to do with my life. I couldn’t be in a better place right now,” she explains. “If I decide to not attend law school, then I will have my master’s and can go on in my career. And if I stay here, a lot of law schools look favorably on students who do have a master’s because they’ve shown they can succeed at upper-level studies.”

“What’s great about this internship is that it’s real life experience,” says Megan, adding that it’s giving her an opportunity to realize what a lawyer at the state level might do. “This internship is helping me to decide, based on experience, if law school is what I really want to do.”

Megan is currently debating on whether she will continue on to law school or not. She has been accepted, but is unsure if that is what she wants to do. She is also contemplating going on to get her doctorate degree and possibly becoming a professor.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

GPSI program connects classroom theory to real work practice

By Melanie Cain

When Gulam A. Noorani was looking for public health programs in the United States, his interest was piqued by the UIS website, especially the Graduate Public Service Internship section. He requested a brochure and an application to the program and, once the materials arrived and he began looking through them, he soon realized what great opportunities this program could offer.

Gulam was living in India at the time. As a physician who had just graduated with a major in Medicine and Surgery from NTR University of Health Services, he was interested in coming to the U.S. to study public health at a state university. Gulam decided to contact the GPSI office at UIS and follow up more thoroughly with the details of the program.

After looking into the university and the program further, Gulam decided that UIS was indeed the place to continue his studies in the field of public health and he arrived here in time to begin the 2004 fall semester. “Once I came to Springfield, I met the director of the GPSI program (Kim Hayden), and she motivated me and helped me to obtain a few interviews with public health-related agencies,” he explains.

“I opted for a position as an intern analyst at the Illinois Center for Health Statistics with the Illinois Department of Public Health,” says Gulam. “It seemed like it would be a challenging position and was a tremendous opportunity to work independently.” Gulam also began working toward his master’s degree in Public Health.

In his current position, Gulam has a great variety of duties and responsibilities. He performs data tabulations, calculations, and statistical analyses using software such as SPSS and Epi-Info, and assists in refining databases and preparing graphic analysis of research data. Gulam also helps with essential data analyses required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to carry out various studies in the area of maternal and child health care.

During his time at UIS, Gulam has had nothing but positive experiences with his classes, internship, and the GPSI program in general. “I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to learn and explore more about the public health field and statistical methods,” he says. “It’s also been great to apply classroom theory to real work situations and to use daily work experience as a bridge between school and work.”

Although Gulam keeps busy with his internship and schoolwork, he still finds time to enjoy some of his favorite pastimes. He is an active member of the Springfield Cricket Club and has represented the club for the last two seasons in the U.S. Midwest Cricket league. He also enjoys cooking, traveling, exploring new places, and listening to music.

Gulam will be graduating in December 2005 with his master’s degree in Public Health. His future plans include a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in the area of HIV/AIDS.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Amazing journey leads El Akrich to UIS

By Melanie Cain

The journey that has brought international student Driss El Akrich from his native Morocco to has been nothing short of amazing. Along the way, Driss has taken advantage of some great opportunities and has added an impressive set of programs, honors, and activities to his credentials.

Though he has always been interested in government and public administration, Driss earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Moulay Ismail University and a certification in Communication from Mohammed V University & Rotary Clubs. He moved from Morocco to the United States in January 2002 as part of the Fulbright exchange program, becoming the first Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant in Arabic in the history of the U.S.

After coming to this country, Driss began to pursue his life-long interests in government and public administration. “From my earliest years, I have avidly followed political developments through newspapers, magazines, and television,” he says. “This area of study is crucial to the development of any country, including Morocco. Morocco is embarking on long-overdue reforms. It is important for the next generation of Moroccans who want to influence new policies and benefit from them to be prepared for this significant task.”

Accordingly, Driss attended Arkansas State University and earned two master’s degrees while he was there. In May 2004, he graduated with a master’s in Public Administration, and in May 2005, he added a master’s in Political Science.

During his time at Arkansas State, Driss also participated in a number of extracurricular organizations and programs. He was a language instructor in Arabic, became heavily involved with the Student Government Association, worked with the Office of International Programs and the Middle East Studies Committee, and participated in the Model United Nations group, as well as a number of other campus and community activities.

Leaving ASU, Driss knew he wanted to continue his education and involvement with political and international activities. Then he heard about UIS from a friend who worked at the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, and subsequently enrolled in the Doctor of Public Administration program. “As one of the leading educational institutions in the U.S., UIS is uniquely positioned in the state capital to provide me with cutting-edge educational knowledge and skills in my area of interest,” says Driss.

Driss also feels that the experience he is gaining from his studies at UIS will benefit him in his future endeavors. “The DPA program is enabling me to work with specialists and policy makers in the field of public administration. It’s helping me acquire the crucial skills to assist the specific needs of my country in remaining an active member in the international arena,” he explains. “My ultimate goal is to serve in government and to devise new and improved ways of better serving the public.”

Driss couldn’t be more pleased with his decision to come to UIS. “What I enjoy most about UIS is the high caliber of the faculty, the research-oriented mission of the institution, and its highly valued academic freedom in helping students get the expertise needed to make them better leaders,” he says. “I also like how much the university invests on its students, faculty, and staff to equip them with the cutting-edge information to compete not only nationwide, but in the international arena as well.”

“Being an international student at UIS is very rewarding,” says Driss. “I get to make new friends almost on daily basis. I also have the opportunity to share and exchange ideas and thoughts with highly cooperative and understanding faculty, students, and staff. It’s a great place, and I am very thankful to be within a community that embraces diversity and promotes respect for everybody.”

Friday, November 04, 2005

Graduate assistantship provides networks and experience for the future

By Melanie Cain

Last spring, when Lara Stremsterfer was enrolled in a painting class, the professor, Mike Miller, approached her about applying for the graduate assistantship as manager of UIS’ Visual Arts Gallery. “This offer enticed me because I have always loved art, and I create my own art from time to time, though I never saw myself pursuing art professionally,” says Lara. “With my education background in communication and visual arts, along with my AST internship experience in event planning, I could not have chosen a better fit for an assistantship!”

Lara was born and raised in Springfield and received her A.A. degree in Liberal Arts from Springfield College in Illinois, where she played volleyball and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa. She graduated from UIS in May, with a bachelor’s degree in Communication and a minor in Visual Arts. She is currently enrolled as a full-time graduate student and serves as the graduate assistant of the Visual Arts Gallery.

“Every day brings a new task at the gallery,” explains Lara. “I am usually preparing for exhibitions by contacting artists, writing press releases for upcoming shows, speaking with local media about the gallery, preparing postcards and mailings to be sent around the area, or just answering questions that guests have about the featured artist’s work. I also work closely with my supervisor, Visual Arts faculty member Jonathan Perkins, on preparing for shows.”

“My favorite thing about being the gallery manager is getting to enjoy art while engaging in all the behind- the- scene action in preparation for our monthly shows,” says Lara. “Working with artists, faculty members, students, the UIS family, and the Springfield community will, I hope, open doors toward a career in event planning.

“I feel very fortunate to be a part of the graduate assistant program here at UIS,” says Lara. “In addition to easing the tuition burden, being a GA has already provided me with great work experience and has introduced me to a network of professionals, on campus and in the Springfield area.”

The gallery’s current show, “Digital Environments” by Mike Miller, is on display through November 23. The gallery will host an evening with the artist on Thursday, November 10, beginning with an artist’s talk at 5:30 p.m. followed by an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. The talk, reception, and exhibit are free and open to the public. Miller is chair of the Visual Arts Program at UIS, where he teaches painting and drawing. His work combines the unique appearance of digital imagery with traditional painting and printmaking processes.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Lend a helping hand through the Volunteer Center

By Melanie Cain

If you’re interested in helping to make the world a better place, there is simply no better place on campus to give your time, efforts, and talents than the UIS Office of Student Volunteers, Service, and Civic Engagement. “The single most valuable thing this office provides is the opportunity for me and students to contribute in whatever small way we can to make a positive change,” says Patricia Robertson, director. “The students, community supporters, partners, and people with whom we share our service experiences bring a joy to my small world that I would not otherwise know and am continually grateful for.”

The goal of the office is to connect service and learning to social justice and civic engagement while also fostering responsive, reciprocal partnerships between students, faculty, staff, and community. “We seek to actively engage students in service and learning experiences that will contribute to their development and understanding of leadership and civic responsibility,” says Robertson. “We also seek to grow and expand campus and community partnerships and to broaden the campus/community connection.”

The office has been in existence for approximately four-and-a-half-years. It was started as a part-time initiative through a grant and has grown into an office with a full-time director, a 50% community liaison, and one GA position.

Robertson has been serving as director since February 2004. Previously, Associate Dean of Students Jeffrey Maras had assumed these responsibilities, and he still helps out on a regular basis. The office will also be getting a 50% AmeriCorps person in the near future. In addition to the other assistance she provides, Alisabeth Manzoeillo, the GA, lives in LRH with the Living Learning Community and is responsible for providing oversight and guidance, as well as community leadership, for this new group of students.

Current projects

The Living Learning Community is one of the office’s latest projects. It is a designated area of LRH where students who are committed to volunteer and service have applied to live in order to build a community dedicated to these core values. The students meet and plan service events and assist with activities that are planned through the office as campus wide initiatives. One event the group planned was the October 25 Blood Drive, which was extremely successful because of all the student support.

The office has also received an AmeriCorps/Campus Compact grant that has provided the opportunity for nine students to participate as STAR fellows. Each fellow performs 300 hours of service over the course of the year, earning work study wage, and receives a $1,000 education award upon successful completion of the program. The office also has an ongoing partnership and commitment to Washington Middle School in Springfield, providing volunteer assistance, parent involvement coaching, and programming for sustainable outcomes.

Robertson explains that most of the recent hurricane relief efforts that took place at UIS were student driven and organized. “Students went to Louisiana to help clean up after the hurricane, collected food and clothing to send to victims, and organized a carnival to raise funds for relief efforts,” she says. “There are also approximately 20 students planning an alternative spring break to go to a Habitat for Humanity site to help rebuild.”

National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week

The office is currently in the process of planning, coordinating, and sponsoring a full schedule of activities for National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week, November 14-19. There are many different opportunities for individuals to participate.

•Monday - There will be a panel presentation and open dialog lunch in PAC G from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. with representatives from Contact Ministries, St. John’s Breadline, and the state advocate for homeless children.
•Tuesday - The movie “Taylor’s Campaign,” a film about hunger and homelessness, will run continuously in the cafeteria. The students are also planning an Ox-Fam hunger banquet in the PAC restaurant at noon.
•Wednesday - The students will host a “Food for Thought” letter writing campaign to state legislators and members of Congress.
•Thursday - The “Who Cares?” t-shirt contest will take place. Students will be given t-shirts and fabric marking pens and will ask people to sign their shirts for $1 per signature. All proceeds will benefit local shelters and food pantries.

“There is never a shortage of need for volunteers, and the needs are constantly changing,” says Robertson. “I encourage anyone interested in volunteering to contact me and I will provide them with a list of current projects as well as ongoing opportunities.”

To contact Robertson, e-mail her at probe1@uis.edu, call 206-7828, or stop by the office at SAB 60.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Jamison looks forward to the opportunities that await her at UIS

By Melanie Cain

In an effort to learn more about some of UIS’ newest faculty members, we will be interviewing some of them and asking them to share their stories.

Although Kathy Petitte Jamison was not really looking for a full-time teaching position, when the opportunity to join the UIS faculty as an associate professor of Communication came along, she simply couldn’t turn it down. “Being a doctoral student and teaching assistant is work enough, but I happened to come across a position at UIS, and it sounded perfect for me,” she says.

“Having earned my master’s at UIS and knowing what it’s like to be a single parent, work two jobs, and attend school full-time, I figured I could relate well to the many UIS students who still fit this description. Besides, I’ve always thought well of the Communication program here,” says Jamison.

Jamison received her bachelor’s degree, with a double major in English and Fine Art, from Illinois College in 1991. She then received her master of arts in mass media communication from UIS in 1998. Jamison is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Institution of Communications Research at UIUC.

Although the path to her current position has been long and certainly not easy, Jamison is proud of her accomplishment. “Among my achievements, my education is what I am most proud of. It’s been a long, hard road, and I’m not done yet,” she says.

What does Jamison enjoy most about being a professor? “I enjoy the on-going research and learning that goes into teaching a subject,” she explains. “Like most other teachers, I also enjoy it when students say they really got something useful out of a class.”

Overall, Jamison is excited about the opportunities that await her in the upcoming school year. “What I’m looking forward to the most during my time at UIS is getting settled, becoming part of the academic community, and making new friends,” says Jamison.

“It will also be very exciting as UIS moves from an upper-division school to a four-year school,” she says. “The expansion of the university, the professionalism and friendliness of everyone I’ve met to date – these are things I’m looking forward to being part of.”

Like many other professors, Jamison enjoys a wide variety of leisure activities, but has some difficulty finding the time to fit them all in. “Once a semester starts, I unfortunately have very little free time,” she says. “However, if I had free time, I would like to spend some of it with friends; gobble up every good independent and foreign film I could get my hands on; travel; dance - salsa, swing, and tango; and cook.”

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Hadley-Ives enjoys many aspects of teaching at UIS

By Melanie Cain

In an effort to learn more about some of UIS’ newest faculty members, we will be interviewing some of them and asking them to share their stories.

Eric Hadley-Ives has an extensive list of reasons why he enjoys being a college professor. The flexible hours, comfortable environment, and weeks off in the summer are certainly a plus. Working with other intelligent, open-minded, and inquisitive people brings him a great deal of satisfaction. He also says that seeing work he has done get published is quite a thrill.

But one over-riding aspect of the job makes everything worthwhile: “Any time you see significant growth in skills, knowledge, or wisdom in a student, and you can be fairly sure this growth was brought about by what you have done as a teacher, that is truly the peak,” he says.

Hadley-Ives, a new assistant professor in the Liberal Studies/Individual Option program, received his B.A. in World Development from the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies at the University of Redlands in California. This program was very similar to the LIS program at UIS. He then earned his M.S.W. and Ph. D. from Washington University’s George Warren Brown School of Social Work, where he focused on social and economic development and research.

After a stint at UIUC’s School of Social Work, Hadley-Ives was looking for a little change of pace. “I wanted an environment where teaching would be more significant, and the pressure to independently produce significant, original research for top-tier journals would be less emphasized in relation to teaching and service scholarship,” he explains. “UIS attracted me with the LIS/INO program, which was very much like the program I attended as an undergraduate. I remember my undergraduate learning experience as being more exciting and interesting than my graduate experiences, so I became more interested in teaching undergraduates, and teaching them outside my focus field of social work,” he says.

“UIS was close enough to my previous employer that I could easily maintain collaborative research projects with my colleagues there,” he adds. “The kindness and friendliness of the faculty I met during my campus visit and interview, combined with the smaller size, proximity to my family and friends in the Midwest, the lower cost of living, and the advantages of living in a small city not too far from large cities, all played a role.”

In his free time, Hadley-Ives enjoys a variety of activities. He likes any creative project related to travel or photography, reading (mainly non-fiction, but also some fiction and poetry), listening to many kinds of music, and spending time with family or friends. Achieving and maintaining a “reasonably happy” family is what Hadley-Ives considers his greatest accomplishment. He’s been married for 13 years and is the father of two sons, ages 6 and 10.

Hadley-Ives has set himself some ambitious goals at UIS. “I want to help students have a great time while learning about themselves and their world, develop good relations with colleagues, write and publish articles, and get some more research done,” he says. “I’ve been impressed by the staff and faculty here, and I’m feeling better and better about coming here every day.”

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Teaching at a university fulfills a life-long dream for Helton

By Melanie Cain

In an effort to learn more about some of UIS’ newest faculty members, we will be interviewing some of them and asking them to share their stories.

Tena Helton’s journey to UIS, where she joined the English faculty this fall, has been a remarkable -- and very busy -- trip. Along the way she overcame a number of hardships and barriers and is now fulfilling her life-long dream of teaching at a university.

Helton grew up in the Appalachian foothills in Polk County, North Carolina. “We were quite poor,” she says. “Without scholarships and my guidance counselor’s great connections, I would never have gone to college.” Enrolling at North Carolina State University, she began studying aerospace engineering but quickly figured out that was not where she should be. “I eventually found my way back to English, my first love and where my greatest strengths were.”

Helton graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and a concentration and certification in secondary education in 1993 and did substitute teaching for a couple months before getting a job as a writer for agricultural trade magazines. After a year of writing for the magazines full-time, she went back for her master’s in English, again with a concentration in secondary education. In 1997, Helton received her master’s degree and began teaching freshman composition and British literature as a lecturer at NC State. Two years later she transferred to Louisiana State University to pursue a Ph.D. in American literature.

While at LSU, Helton received the Regent’s Fellowship for four years, as well as a fellowship to complete her dissertation. “I managed to serve both academia and the community by teaching classes, publishing articles, obtaining outside funding for and organizing a conference, and running a seminar at a local library – all while taking care of my two children and writing my dissertation,” she says. Helton completed her doctorate in May 2005 and feels that reaching this goal, despite many obstacles, is her greatest accomplishment.

When it came to decide where to teach, Helton says that selecting UIS was easy. “I chose UIS because it provides an environment in which I can teach well, commit time to research, and raise a family without going completely crazy,” she says. She adds that even at her interview she could see that UIS was committed to service in ways that many other universities are not. Access to the U of I system’s first-rate library and archives was another plus.

During her free time, Helton enjoys a variety of activities. “I love going to the zoo and learning about animals. When I retire from teaching, I want to volunteer at the zoo,” she says. “I also like racquetball and photography. My own children are usually the subjects, but any child makes for a fantastic picture.”

When asked what part of being a professor she enjoys most, Helton responds, “Hands down – teaching. That’s why I got into this field in the first place, and teaching truly is exciting, important work. Students help make me a better scholar.”

Thursday, September 15, 2005

“Mini Peace Corps” in Jamaica is an Amazing Experience

By Melanie Cain

This summer Professor Jan Droegkamp led several UIS students to Jamaica for a three-week program that allowed them to interact with the local community, tour the country, and learn about its culture. It was an experience that will remain with them for the rest of their lives.

“I designed this trip as a service-learning course, a ‘min Peace Corps’ experience,” explained Jan. “Students work side-by-side with Jamaicans in community organizations and schools. Most of the students lived with families and spent their free time with Jamaican peers or family members. Every day the students worked in their assignments and served the organizational needs, whether that was hurricane relief, teaching, craft demonstrations or computer instruction.”

The students attended seminars twice a week to discuss concepts of culture, politics, religion, and their personal experiences and also took field trips to view some of the natural Jamaican surroundings. “The area where we lived was off the beaten path, and it allowed the students to experience the real Jamaican hospitality and community development,” said Jan.

Jan explained how she got the idea for the course: “I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Jamaica in 1972 and have traveled there on vacation in the past four years. Once I was on the beach talking to a Jamaican woman, and she asked me why I didn’t bring students.” Jan took her first student group in 2004 and plans to take another in 2006 as part of the UIS Global Experience Program.

One of the students on this year’s trip was Kevin Parker, an undergraduate Political Studies major and recipient of the first Global Experience Scholarship. Kevin described the trip as “a program designed to promote a better understanding of Jamaican society through various community service opportunities.”

Kevin said, for him, the best part of the trip was his host family. “I loved living with the Holmes Family in Malvern. From the moment I met them, we clicked. They were a very affectionate family who made sure I was comfortable. My experience with them truly enhanced my time in Jamaica and was certainly the most enjoyable part of the trip.”

He added, “I strongly suggest to anyone who visits Jamaica – don’t spend your time strictly at the resorts on the beach. The country and citizenry extend well beyond the beach communities most people visit. I had a great time studying in Jamaica, and I encourage all students to consider taking this course.”

Monday, September 05, 2005

Education background assists Bogle

By Melanie Cain

In an effort to learn more about some of UIS’ newest faculty members, we will be interviewing some of them and asking them to share their stories.

Leonard Bogle, now an assistant professor in the EDL program at UIS, has an extensive background in education. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Education from Eastern Illinois University, then enrolled at Illinois State University where he earned a master’s in Educational Administration, a superintendent’s endorsement, and a doctorate.

Recently retired as a school superintendent, Leonard served in that capacity for a total of nine years, the last six in Cerro Gordo, Illinois. Before that, he was a principal for 18 years in Jacksonville and, before that, he spent six tears as a middle school science and physical education teacher in Sparland. He also coached basketball and track during that time.

For the past three years, Leonard has served as an adjunct professor at UIS. “Many of the classes I taught were online, and I developed an online class for bargaining,” he explains. “The position I now fill became available, and I was fortunate enough to be selected to join the EDL faculty.”

For Leonard, the opportunity to become involved in a department for new leaders in education is what he enjoys most about being a professor. “I have always loved teaching and welcome the challenge this position affords me,” says Leonard.

In his free time, Leonard enjoys a variety of activities. “I like to run, lift weights, read, attend concerts and plays, and hit golf balls – occasionally straight,” he says. “I’m also a huge Illini fan. I have season tickets for football and get to as many basketball games as time and money allow.”

Leonard has two grown children, Michael and Stacy. Michael graduated from ISU and now works at Disney World. Stacy graduated from the U of I, lettering two years as a swimmer, and is currently a teacher in the northern suburbs of Chicago.

When asked about his greatest accomplishment, Leonard had two distinct things in mind. “In my personal life, it would be helping raise two great children and seeing them become successful adults,” he says. “As far as my professional life, it would be helping pass a building referendum in Cerro Gordo and working with the teachers and principals to increase achievement levels to the point that the district recently received the Bright Star Award. Only 10 percent of Illinois schools achieve this honor.”

“What I am most looking forward to this year at UIS is getting to know my colleagues on a more personal level and growing and improving as an instructor,” says Leonard. “My goals are to work with the staff and other faculty members to develop new, and enhance existing, online classes in such a manner that UIS will become a national lighthouse for online university classes.”

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Wort wouldn’t trade the experience for anything

By Melanie Cain

When Kara Wort was looking for a college, several deciding factors led her to UIS. The first and biggest selling point was the Capital Scholars program. Kara realized that taking part in the inaugural class of an honors program would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and a huge benefit down the road.

Kara liked the fact that UIS offered the first class of Cap Scholars some financial aid that allowed them to take a chance on this new program, and says she found the staff in the financial aid office to be extremely helpful when it came to dealing with scholarships and other financial issues.

Another thing that Kara enjoyed was UIS’ small class sizes. She realized that by taking classes with a just few other students, she could get a lot more out of her classes. “I knew it would allow me to develop closer bonds with the faculty, as well as with fellow students,” says Kara.

After choosing UIS as her destination, Kara set some basic goals for herself, hoping that in accomplishing them she would be preparing herself for life after graduation. “I was hoping to get a well-rounded liberal arts education at UIS and maintain a good G.P.A. in the process,” she says. Kara also wanted to network with different business professionals in the community.

Kara did a fine job working toward these goals. She maintained a strong G.P.A., both as a Communication student and in the Capital Scholars Honors program, and she was a member and secretary of the first-ever communication honor society at UIS, Lambda Pi Eta.

Kara also took advantage of the Applied Study program, serving a communication-based internship with a local business. It was an experience she enjoyed and she not only learned valuable skills, but walked away with some solid business relationships as well.

Above all, Kara values the education she received at UIS. “Most importantly, I got a great education from people who were knowledgeable on many different subject matters,” she says. Like many others who have attended UIS, Kara feels that one of the best aspects of the university is the people she met during her four years on campus. “The relationships I developed with friends and faculty and the memories I’ve made will be treasured my whole life. I wouldn’t trade the experiences I had at UIS for anything” she says.

Kara earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication in May 2005 as a member of UIS’ first graduating class of Capital Scholars. She is currently interviewing for jobs in the Springfield area and would eventually like to get her master’s degree once she settles into a full-time position.

Do you have a great story about your experiences at UIS? If you’d like to share your thoughts, please feel free to email me at mcain02s@uis.edu.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Close-knit community is a perfect fit for Bair

By Melanie Cain

When the time came for Lindy Bair to choose a college, she knew exactly what she was looking for. “I came from a very small town and high school, and I liked the close-knit bond my classmates and I formed through the years,” says Lindy. “I was looking for a school where I wouldn't have to lose this feeling.”

It was just by chance that Lindy signed up to listen when the UIS representative visited her high school. “I was very impressed by her sincerity, honesty, and all-round enthusiasm for UIS,” says Lindy. “When I applied to colleges, I only applied to two. I attended preview days at both schools, but the minute I set foot on the UIS campus, I knew that this was where I was going to go,” she explains.

After choosing UIS, Lindy started thinking about what she wanted to accomplish during her time here. She says, “Just as UIS was hoping to shape my educational future, I was hoping for a chance to shape the future of UIS through the Capital Scholars program. My goal during my time at UIS was to balance both studies and extracurricular involvement.”

During her four years on campus, Lindy learned just how great a university UIS was. “I saw first hand how student-oriented the campus is. I never felt that there was a professor I couldn't ask a question of or share a concern with. At UIS I always felt like a student and never a number,” she says. Lindy appreciated these aspects of the college and never took them for granted.

She also realized that in order to really enjoy yourself in college, you have to get out there and experience all you can. “At UIS I learned that being a part of the campus means getting involved. One of the campus activities that I was most involved in was the UIS Choir,” says Lindy. “Through the choir I was able to meet faculty, staff, students, and community members. Watching the program grow and change through the years was a neat experience and one that I will miss when I leave here.”

Looking back, Lindy realizes that she made the right choice in coming to UIS. “The Capital Scholars program as a whole was an amazing experience, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I developed so many wonderful friendships and learned so much during my time there,” she explains.

Lindy earned her bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts in May 2005 as a member of UIS’ first graduating class of Capital Scholars. In the fall, she will return to UIS to finish up a few classes in the Teacher Education program and she will be student teaching in the spring. After that, she hopes to find a position as an elementary school teacher.

Do you have a great story about your experiences at UIS? If you’d like to share your thoughts, please feel free to email me at mcain02s@uis.edu.

Student trustee/grad student Carrie Bauer is prepared for life’s options

By Heather Shaffer

At the end of the spring semester, the UIS student body elected Carrie Bauer as their student representative to the U of I Board of Trustees. This hard-working graduate student is ready for the challenges and new experiences that await her.

Carrie said is she very excited about the coming year. With a new university president, B. Joseph White, she sees changes in both vision and direction for the university in the near future.

Already, Carrie and her fellow student trustees from Urbana-Champaign and Chicago are organizing a leadership retreat in Chicago where student leaders from all three campuses will come together to discuss their roles in helping advance the U of I system as a whole.

Before being elected to the BOT, Carrie served on UIS’ Student Government Association. She decided to join the SGA during her freshman year when a position representing the College of Public Affairs and Administration opened up. Someone told Carrie she should lobby for the position, so she did and was elected. Last year, she served as SGA vice president. "I am glad I was elected to the SGA and had the honor of serving the UIS student body," she said.

Carrie has also been involved in many clubs and organizations while on campus, including the UIS College Democrats, United Students Against Sweatshops, Blue Crew, Women’s Issues Caucus, Diversity Task Force, Model Illinois Government, Model United Nations, Phi Sigma Alpha National Honor Society, and women’s volleyball team.

Carrie came to UIS in the fall of 2001 as part of the inaugural class of Capital Scholars. She chose UIS because of the chance to be part of a new program and because of its strong Political Studies department.

Carrie received her bachelor’s degree in Political Studies in May 2005. "I have enjoyed my time at UIS, in both the CAP Scholars and Political Studies programs. The personal attention and time that teachers give students is tremendous and has made for a great experience," she said.

Currently, a graduate student in Political Studies, Carrie is employed as a GA at the Women’s Center, and also works as an administrative assistant for the Athletics Department.

Carrie hopes to complete her master’s degree in Political Studies in May 2006, then plans to either attend law school or enter the work force. Either way, she feels she will be ready because of her experiences at UIS. "UIS has prepared me for each option equally -- through my classes, student groups, work experience, athletics, and much more," she said.

This summer, I am interested in learning about other people's experiences at UIS. If you’d like to share your campus experiences, please e-mail me at hshaf01s@uis.edu.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Learning the Ins and Outs of Journalism

By Heather Shaffer

Mallory Medved cringes when she sees a spelling or grammar error and loves to read papers, articles, and stories for their content and syntax. These traits come in especially handy in her work as an English major at UIS and as a copy editor for The Journal, the student newspaper.

Mallory didn’t always want to study the complex world of writing and editing. Beginning her studies four years ago as a political studies major in the second class of Capital Scholars, she originally chose UIS because she liked the campus and its location in the city of Springfield, a prime location for starting a career in politics.

But she joked that one day she realized that watching “West Wing” reruns on Bravo does not necessarily make a politician and decided she might be better suited for a different career path. So during her sophomore year she switched her major to English with a minor in Communication.

The first two years of the Capital Scholars Program were, overall, a positive experience for Mallory. She said that the program has helped her learn to think clearly and concisely and to reflect that in her writing.

For Mallory, one of the most positive aspects of the Capital Scholars program is its small class sizes. She said, “I went from a grade school class of 19 to a high school class of 1,100 and definitely prefer going to school where you aren't meeting classmates for the first time on the day you graduate.”

She also noted that, because all of her classes are small, she has gotten to know her professors well and they are available when she needs help.

When not studying or in class, Mallory holds down two jobs on campus: not only is she copy editor for The Journal, but she works in the bibliographic services department at Brookens Library as well.

After graduation, Mallory hopes to work for a newspaper as a copy editor/designer and eventually would like to become a freelance proofreader “so I can work at home, in my pajamas.” Mallory said that working for The Journal has been a priceless experience in helping her achieve that goal. “Because The Journal is small, I have been able to experience all aspects of working for a newspaper, from writing and editing to photography and designing. I think that will be invaluable after I graduate and enter the job market,” she said.

Mallory is already one step closer to finding full-time employment in the field of journalism. While attending the Illinois College Press Association Conference with The Journal staff in February, Mallory took part in the Jobs Fair and interviewed with Jan Larsen, a features editor for The Joliet Herald News. Jan told Mallory that there weren’t any positions open at that time; however, when a position did open up for a summer copy editor intern in the features department, she remembered Mallory and offered her the job.

In her internship, Mallory spends most of each morning proofing newspaper pages that have already been laid out and sends them to the printers for the next day. In the afternoon, she edits articles for future sections. Mallory said she also does a little writing on the side, mainly taking articles the paper gets from other area papers and reworking them to make the stories more local. “When Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released, we picked up an article from the Naperville paper about local launch parties, which meant I got to call every bookstore in our area to see what they were doing for the big night,” she said.

Mallory said that the internship has also allowed her to talk to a lot of interesting people this summer and to learn a lot about the ins and outs of professional journalism.

Working full-time has also made Mallory realize how valuable and short the college experience is, so her advice to new students at UIS is simple: get involved in activities on campus and make the most of the college experience while it lasts. “The rest of your life will come soon enough, so be sure to enjoy your years at UIS for the incredible experience that it is,” she said.

This summer, I am interested in learning about other people's experiences at UIS. If you’d like to share your campus experiences, please e-mail me at hshaf01s@uis.edu.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Living and Learning through the Capital Scholars Program

By Melanie Cain

When Gabrielle Wiegand first came to UIS, she had two distinct goals in mind. “The first thing I wanted was to figure out what I was going to do with my life. I had always been fascinated by politics, but I wasn’t sure if it was something I really wanted to do,” she says.

Her second goal was to meet new people and make friendships that would last a lifetime. “Just about every older person I know met their best friends, their maids of honor, or their children’s godparents in college,” she explains.

As it turned out, Gabrielle accomplished both goals, and had many other rewarding experiences along the way.

Originally from Metamora, Gabrielle was first drawn to UIS because the small class sizes appealed to her. She also loved the fact that the Capital Scholars program was just beginning and she could have an opportunity to help build the program into something great.

She also felt that the professors at UIS offered something that faculty at most colleges didn’t. “On my visits to campus, I got the sense that the UIS faculty were dedicated to students and to teaching. Research and publishing came second,” says Gabrielle. She felt the professors would be willing to give more one-on-one attention, allowing her to get the education she was hoping for. As someone planning to major in political studies, she also liked the fact the UIS was located in Springfield and had ties to the capitol.

During her time as a Capital Scholar, Gabrielle learned a great deal about her chosen major as well as about herself. “At UIS I learned what I am good at, and what I want to do with the rest of my life. I learned that I love to learn new things. I love to have new experiences. A lot of that derived from time in the classroom, but most of the knowledge and experiences that I cherish from UIS came from ‘living and learning’ with 100 of my closest friends in the Capital Scholars program,” she explains.

Gabrielle says that perhaps the thing she enjoyed most about UIS was that “anything is possible there. Come up with an idea, and as long as you can have a good argument and are willing to do some hard work, you can make it happen.”

Gabrielle earned her bachelor’s degree in Political Studies with a minor in Communication in May 2005 as a member of UIS’ first graduating class of Capital Scholars. This summer, she is living in Chicago and working for the public relations firm Serafin & Associates. In the fall, she will return to UIS to complete her master’s in Political Studies.

Do you have a great story about your experiences at UIS? If you’d like to share your thoughts, please feel free to email me at mcain02s@uis.edu.

Friday, July 22, 2005

An Easy Transition to UIS

By Heather Shaffer

Transferring schools can sometimes be a headache for college students, but not for Stephanie Orr, currently a senior studying communication at UIS. Stephanie said her transition to UIS was easy and seamless.

Stephanie was attending a small women’s college in Pittsburg, but decided to transfer to UIS because it was closer to her hometown of Alton, Illinois, and because it was a better value. Stephanie thinks that the transition was smooth because the admissions staff handled her transfer efficiently and in a timely manner. She believes that transferring to UIS was the right move.

She appreciates UIS’ small-school environment, the small class sizes, and especially the accessibility of the professors. "I like how the faculty at UIS are approachable and always willing to help. Even the professors I had semesters ago, ones I don’t see on a regular basis, know me and take the time to say hi and ask how I am. It’s nice and it makes the whole college experience more personal than I thought it would be," she said.

While Stephanie is happy to be at UIS, she said that being a transfer student is nevertheless different than being a traditional four-year student. For example, she says she did not have the opportunity to bond with the majority of her classmates by living on campus as most traditional students do. She also thinks it is harder to be as involved in student events as other students are because she lives off campus.

However, Stephanie said it is not hard to fit in at UIS. "Everyone is welcoming and helpful, which makes me feel like I belong," she said.

Currently, Stephanie is employed as assistant editor at The Journal, the student newspaper at UIS, where her responsibilities include assisting the editor in developing story ideas, making story assignments, helping coordinate staff meetings, and assembling the News Briefs section for each week’s paper. She is also a standing member of the editorial board, where she aids in policy development and editorial writing.

Stephanie began her career in student journalism while attending Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, Illinois. Without any previous newspaper experience, Stephanie applied for and got a copy editing position with The Bridge, Lewis and Clark’s student newspaper. It was there that she discovered her passion for writing, and she decided to change her major from history to communication.

On entering UIS, Stephanie decided to continue studying in the area of communication, and she believes that her studies have helped her grow personally and professionally.

"I am able to apply the classroom lessons to my work on The Journal, as well as to my work off campus. UIS has also given me the opportunity to work on my social and group skills. Meeting new people and working with them on class projects or on the newspaper has enabled me to adapt to just about any working environment," she said.

After graduation, Stephanie said she would like to pursue a career in promotions or public relations. The Applied Studies Program at UIS has helped her move toward that goal by providing her with the opportunity to network with professional contacts. Through AST, Stephanie obtained an internship with Capital Radio Group in Springfield, gaining valuable experience and creating a potential for future employment.

This summer, I am interested in learning about other people's experiences at UIS. If you’d like to share your campus experiences, please e-mail me at hshaf01s@uis.edu.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Creating lasting friendships at UIS

By Melanie Cain

With her freshman year behind her, Allie Leight is happy that she decided to attend UIS. During her first year on campus, Allie excelled in the Capital Scholars program, walked on to the school’s softball team, and made a lot of friends and memories that will last for years to come.

Allie, who will be a sophomore in the fall, considered many different factors when choosing a college. Perhaps most importantly, she was looking for a place where she wouldn’t be “lost in the crowd,” but would instead feel valued as a student. “The fact that UIS had small classes was a huge appeal because I didn't want to be a nobody at a huge university in classes of over 100 people,” she says.

She visited the campus and was impressed with things overall, but especially with Lincoln Residence Hall. She explains, “I really liked the dorm. The suite-style setup is really a nice feature, making it a truly enjoyable place to live.” Allie thought that she could meet a lot of new people in this living arrangement.

As it turned out, Allie found it very easy to make new friends as she entered the close-knit community of Capital Scholars. “I came to UIS looking forward to making some new friends, and it’s been great so far. I really love the people at UIS, and that is what makes the experience so good here – the people,” says Allie.

Living the life of a student-athlete is always something of a challenge, but Allie has also excelled in that aspect of her college career. At the beginning of the year, she set out two goals for herself. “I always wanted to be on the dean’s list, and I also decided to walk on the softball team. I’m extremely happy to have accomplished both these goals,” states Allie.

Allie recently returned from a 17-day tour of Ireland and Scotland that was part of a summer class led by Karen Moranski, director of the Capital Scholars program and associate professor of English. Allie’s plans for the future, at least for the next three years, include completing her undergraduate degree in mathematical sciences and continuing her career as a UIS Prairie Stars softball player.

Do you have a great story about your experiences at UIS? If you’d like to share your thoughts, please feel free to email me at mcain02s@uis.edu.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Privilege of Sharing Students’ Lives

By Heather Shaffer

Even though she has lived in Springfield for most of her life, Mae Noll isn’t biased in favor of UIS just because it is located in the city. Mae genuinely loves the people, the opportunities, and the atmosphere on campus.

As resident director of Lincoln Residence Hall, Mae’s responsibilities include supervising the resident assistants and desk staff in the building, planning RA training, participating in preview and summer orientation programs, responding to emergency and crisis situations, and handling student disciplinary situations. It’s a time-consuming job, but Mae said she has had a lot of fun doing it.

Describing her position as “energy giving,” she said, “Getting to know the students by living and working with them daily and nightly is incredibly rewarding. Students share their concerns as well as little everyday joys with me, and that is a privilege.”

Mae’s family has lived in Springfield for generations so coming to work at UIS was like coming home. She said she learned many of the skills she uses in her position – activity planning, teamwork, organizing, and listening – as a member of the Student Council at Springfield High. Following in the footsteps of many family members, Mae attended Illinois College in Jacksonville, then went to the University of Illinois at Chicago where she did graduate studies in higher education administration/college student personnel services. After graduation from UIC, Mae worked for two years in student affairs at Springfield College in Illinois before coming to UIS in 1999 when she enrolled in the Teacher Education Program.

She said she was instantly attracted to what was happening on campus, especially with the Housing Office staff, so she started working as an intern in the Housing Office under then-Housing Director Jim Korte (now assistant dean of students). One of Mae’s first responsibilities there was to help with the Y2K Emergency Response/Readiness Plan; she still has a copy of that and jokes about selling it on eBay.

In 2001 the first class of Capital Scholars came to UIS and Mae was chosen as their resident director. “We’ve learned a lot since we opened LRH in August 2001 to the first class of Capital Scholars, and we are still learning every year. I have a top-notch student staff, and that makes a huge difference; our custodial and maintenance staffs are also skilled and have great attitudes. We work closely and well with the Capital Scholars office. That kind of support makes my job a lot better. I feel like I face challenges with a caring, reliable team,” she said.

Mae said she has many favorite things at UIS, but first and foremost she enjoys the people. “I know I am blessed to work with people who are smart, interesting, hard working, honest, sincere, and dedicated to our students. The students are great to work with too, and I enjoy them very much. I've found that most of them truly want to succeed, have many talents, and care about their education and their university,” she said.

Mae said that the resources available to members of the campus community are also outstanding. Speakers, classes, Star Parties, films, a wide variety of student activities, Sangamon Auditorium performances, Mac and PC computer labs with helpful and patient lab assistants, Capital Perks, athletic competitions – all of these are resources that Mae takes advantage of regularly. She also sees many positive ways that UIS is engaging with the Springfield community. “I believe that UIS has positively impacted our community and that impact will continue and will grow more profound in the years ahead,” she said.

After just four years, Mae already has a store of fond memories of living and working with students in LRH. One of her favorite moments occurred in 2001 when all of the procedures in LRH were still brand new: The building’s first fire drill took place at 3 a.m., causing the desk attendant to shout into the intercom “Fire! Fire! Run…a fire!” Mae subsequently reassured everyone that it was only a drill, but it taught the housing staff that they needed to prepare a script for emergency situations because when panic sets in, it may be hard to know exactly what to say.

Some of Mae’s other favorite memories include visits by her nieces Abby, now 4, and Katie Mae, now 2, as well as many of the student-initiated programs that have taken place in or near LRH. Mae said she especially treasures those moments because she was able to see memories being made and friendships being formed.

This summer, I am interested in learning about other people's experiences at UIS. If you’d like to share your campus experiences, please e-mail me at hshaf01s@uis.edu.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

College is more than academics

By Melanie Cain

Almost all his life, Jason Stuebe has been deeply interested in politics. So when it came time to choose a college, he looked for a place where he could express his political views and gain experience in the field, as well. When he first heard about UIS, he quickly realized that attending college in the state’s capital could be an incredible experience for him. When discovered that UIS also had an excellent political science program, he knew this would be an opportunity he couldn’t turn down.

Jason explains, “The programs for political studies and public administration are truly among the best in this state, if not the best. Considering that, along with the school’s location, it would be pretty hard to say ‘no.’”

As he started his college career, Jason set out some expectations and goals on what he would like to accomplish while at UIS. His main objective was pretty basic -- to learn more about the world in general and how to approach the different situations he would have to face throughout life.

“I wanted to gain theoretical and practical knowledge that could be easily adapted and put to use in the real world,” says Jason. “I also wanted to gain the ability to look at complex problems without panicking, but rather to go about solving them through whatever means and/or processes necessary.”

He continues, “College isn’t always about academic learning. It’s also about learning life practice, in essence, how to survive in this rapidly changing and ever-developing world.”

For Jason, UIS’ combination of a great political science program, location in the state’s capital, and introduction of the new Capital Scholars program seemed to be a perfect fit. Once on campus, he got involved in a number of activities, including the Student Government Association (which he served as president for a year), Model Illinois Government, and College Democrats, as well as the UIS athletics program.

Jason feels that much of his college success came from the fact that he got involved on campus as much as he could. “UIS, much like anyplace else you may find yourself in life, is what you make of it. It can be as rewarding, fun, sociable, and active as you want it to be…and vice versa.”

Like many who have attended UIS, Jason feels that the best aspect of the university is the people. “It is critical to rely on your people to make the place, and that is exactly what UIS has done and continues to do. You’ll find people you can approach and talk to, and they’ll reciprocate relatively easily. I don’t know that you can find that at a lot of other institutions,” explains Jason.

This spring, Jason earned a bachelor’s degree in political studies and was a member of UIS’ first graduating class of Capital Scholars. He will be returning to Springfield in the fall to begin work on his MPA and will also be taking part in the Graduate Public Service Internship program, interning with the Department of Corrections.

Do you have a great story about your experiences at UIS? If you’d like to share your thoughts, please feel free to email me at mcain02s@uis.edu.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Everybody Knows Brad

By Heather Shaffer

Most students who live on the UIS campus probably know Brad Ward. He is that guy you see at almost every campus event, whether he’s rooting on the Prairie Stars at a home basketball game or attending a Housing Residents Council meeting. However, Brad is probably most well-known for his job as a resident assistant for the Two South wing of Lincoln Residence Hall.

According to Brad, he didn’t even consider becoming an RA until Emily Eskridge, a former RA in LRH, approached him and told him she thought he would be good at the job. After applying and interviewing, Brad was put on the alternate list and was later asked to fill Emily’s spot when she transferred to another university.

“Being an RA has been a blessing for me, and I truly mean that. The staff I work with is amazing, and we overcome so much together. And, honestly, you do get burnt out at times but when someone comes to your door at the end of a long day and needs someone to talk to or thanks you for something you did, big or small, it really makes the time and effort worth it,” he said.

Brad said that being an RA has brought him many opportunities and helped him learn many skills that will be useful when he is looking for a job after college. For example, he thinks the experience has sharpened his interpersonal skills as well as his skills in communication, crisis prevention, time management, community building, and programming.

As an RA, Brad also has had the opportunity to serve on the Illinois State Resident Assistant Association. He -- along with Blair Brown, Jen Davis, John Kelly, Dan Collins, and Loni Oehlwein -- serves on the executive board of the statewide organization. Brad said that while it is a lot of work to stay in touch with RA’s across the state to plan conferences and recruit new schools, it is nevertheless a great experience.

Besides being an RA, Brad is also the president of the Blue Crew, a group he calls one of the most active groups on campus. “The amount of commitment some members put in amazes me. They really don’t get the appreciation they deserve. Seeing kids come to 45 to 50 athletic events in 27 weeks of school...That’s two nights a week that they could be doing something else, but there they are, right on the front row, yelling until they have no voice, for our blue and white. Then they take a day off, get their voice back, and go out to do it the next night,” he said. Brad added that he expects the Blue Crew to be even bigger this year, with many incoming freshmen ready to “shake things up” on the sidelines.

Brad’s other activities include the Christian Student Fellowship, the executive board of the Housing Residence Council, and the Springfest Committee. He also works as a photographer for UIS Campus Relations, which allows him to attend almost every campus event.

But the largest part of Brad’s satisfaction comes from being an RA for Two South. “My residents have taught me a lot, and I am excited to get things rolling again in the fall. We have another spectacular group of kids coming in, and the campus should be excited about that,” he said.

In his spare time, Brad developed twosouth.com, a website dedicated to the residents of his wing. He started the site as a way for the students to get to know people around them, but the site grew and in the past two years has gotten hits from all over the world. twosouth.com contains information about each of the residents of Two South, along with pictures and videos about happenings on campus. “This year twosouth.com brought 5,653 pictures and 39 homemade videos to the UIS community, and we hope to put up higher numbers this year if time, space, and funding will allow,” said Brad.

Overall, Brad said that his favorite aspect of UIS is the amount of interaction he gets with so many people on campus, including professors. “Coming from a small town and a graduating class of 70, I knew that UIS would be a good fit for me. Being able to talk on a personal level to anyone from a building service worker to the chancellor just is not something you get at other campuses,” he said.

Brad said he first decided to attend UIS because of Raymond Barnett, whom he calls the “unsung hero of Admissions,” and, after three years, he is confident that he made the right choice. “I cannot believe that in December I will have my Bachelor’s of Business Administration, but I don’t regret one day of the journey,” he said.

Brad’s advice for incoming students -- whether they are transfer students, Capital Scholars, or commuter students -- is to get involved in as many campus activities as they can. He suggests that students should network with everyone, because in the future you never know who will be sitting on the other side of the interview table.

This summer, I am interested in learning about other people's experiences at UIS. If you’d like to share your campus experiences, please e-mail me at hshaf01s@uis.edu.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Academic and Athletic Success at UIS

By Melanie Cain

During her senior year in high school in Geneseo, Jessica Lay planned to attend her local community college, where she intended to participate in athletics. However, during a high school college fair, she came across the UIS booth and after she’d talked with the counselor about a number of issues she walked away with a great interest in the university.

For one thing, Jessica learned that UIS offered athletics at the NAIA level, and that, with the Capital Scholars Honors Program, the school would be accepting freshman for the very first time that fall. She contacted the women’s basketball coach and was offered a scholarship to play at UIS. Jessica said, “I ultimately decided that it would be fun to be part of a charter class in one of the colleges in the University of Illinois system and have the chance to play sports.”

Jessica wasn’t sure what to expect as she started out at UIS -- her main focus was to earn her degree and play sports at the collegiate level. She simply wanted to do her best and balance academic, social, and athletic activities. She also wanted to focus more on what she could truly gain from a class, instead of merely worrying about grades.

One aspect of UIS that Jessica found helpful throughout her studies was the ability to work and interact with professors one-on-one. She said she felt fortunate that she was able to earn a degree from a state school while still being able to work closely with faculty.

When asked what she enjoyed most about her UIS experience, Jessica quickly brought up the Capital Scholars program, especially being a member of the charter class. “I feel that since we were on our own, almost secluded in a way, we tended to socialize with the whole class throughout the entire four years,” she said. “I felt that this gave us a chance to meet and become good friends with people that we might not have gotten to know to in a larger setting. Looking back, I enjoyed the bond that the class established.”

In addition to the many relationships that Jessica built over her college tenure, she also walked away with something that will benefit her for the rest of her life: “I have the tools and knowledge to stand up for something that I believe is right,” she said. “I learned a lot about people…and I feel that becoming close to some individuals whom I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet in a larger setting, and getting to know them, gave me a better understanding of cultural differences.”

Jessica earned her bachelor’s degree in both Business Administration and Visual Arts and graduated in May as a member of the first-ever Capital Scholars Honors Program. As for her future plans, she is hoping for a career in either sports marketing or event planning.

Do you have a story about your experiences at UIS? If you’d like to share your thoughts, feel free to email me at mcain02s@uis.edu.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Meet the New SGA President

By Heather Shaffer

During the Student Government Association elections last semester, the UIS student body elected Samantha Drews as SGA president for 2005-2006.

Samantha, a junior Capital Scholar majoring in Political Studies, was officially signed into office at the Student Life Banquet in May.

During her freshman year, Samantha was appointed SGA representative-at-large. She said she loved being a member of student government from the beginning. “I was always impressed by the parli-pro and the efficiency then-President Jason Stuebe had in running the meetings.”

After being involved in SGA for two years, Drews said she felt it was important to run for president because she felt she could be an asset to the organization and the university as a whole. “I love the idea of logic through discussion in order to develop something greater than what currently exists, and that is what SGA is all about. We are constantly striving to improve the lives of our peers, whether they are aware of it or not,” she said.

Since taking office in May, Samantha said she has done more work than she could have believed. She noted that, as a senator, she tried to be very involved and worked hard for the committees she served on, attending conferences and participating in discussions. But now, she said, she has a lot more work to do.

“I know that I have an incredible task ahead of me. Now, instead of striving to just participate and be diligent with my committees, I will facilitate participation, create the committees, and incorporate every single entity of the student body under my jurisdiction. It is a daunting task, but I have had some incredible predecessors, who have enlightened me in so many ways,” she said.

Samantha, who ran unopposed, said she wishes she’d had an opponent because she wants people to be motivated to be part of the organization. In fact, Samantha said that her primary goal for the upcoming year is to make people aware of SGA and its purpose.

She said that this year SGA members will be doing a number of promotional activities -- including wearing t-shirts, making banners, and passing out pens, highlighters, and cups -- in order to raise awareness about the organization and its members. She said, “It is incredible the amount of power that students can have within their education and within their campus. I think it is vital that we open students’ eyes to that.”

Samantha said she is thrilled with many of the new developments at UIS. “We have a great new president of the U of I system. He has taken us under his wing like no previous president and I look forward to his leadership. We have the General Education curriculum coming into play in just one year. We are developing a spectacular Recreation Center that will help entice people to become a part of UIS,” she said.

The greatest aspect of UIS, according to Samantha, is the potential that lies within the campus. “I see so many great things coming out of this place. I have already promised myself that I will be a contributor to this campus which has already given me so much,” she said.

Samantha has always been interested in politics and in 2002, while still in high school, she worked on the Lane Evans campaign. She finds that her major in Political Studies fits perfectly with her work in student government. She said that the POS department is one of UIS’ hidden gems and added that she has learned much from the professors and coursework that she will be able to apply to a career in politics.

Because of her interest in Hispanic culture and the Spanish language, Samantha is leaning toward a career in labor relations for South and Central American countries. After graduating from UIS, she hopes to attend graduate school or work for the Peace Corps.

Samantha is originally from Moline, Illinois, and came to UIS after she was offered an academic and athletic scholarship to play tennis for UIS Women’s Tennis Coach Dominic Giacomini. “I was unsure of UIS – a small school that I had barely even heard of. I came down to visit with my doubles partner and something told me I should enroll,” she said, adding that she absolutely loves UIS and couldn’t be happier with her decision.

“I must say that the people make the place. I have made some of the most amazing friends that I could have ever hoped for, not to mention the incredible things this campus has done for me academically and politically,” she said.

This summer, I am interested in learning about other people's experiences at UIS. If you’d like to share your campus experiences, please e-mail me at hshaf01s@uis.edu.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Growing Professionally and Personally at UIS

Andrew Hollingsead came into his freshman year in college hoping to pick up a little political experience and make a few friends. Instead, he became a member of a statewide board charged with overseeing a world-class institution of higher education with a $3.4 billion budget, became one of the top young people in his political party in Illinois, and worked under a group of highly regarded lobbyists.


Andrew believes that UIS creates an atmosphere where motivated students can grow, both personally and professionally.

Andrew said that he decided to come to UIS as a Capital Scholar because the program was something new and he thought it could help him carve out an identity for himself after high school.

As a Capital Scholar, Andrew says, “We had a good time every day, but we also developed the research, writing, and critical thinking skills that will put us at an advantage in graduate or professional schools and into our respective careers.”

During his sophomore year, Andrew decided to run for UIS’ student spot on the U of I Board of Trustees. He won and, after serving a year on the Board, was reelected for the following year.
Andrew said he first decided to run for the position primarily because he believed it could be used as an instrument for progress. “UIS is a tremendous campus that is part of the proud U of I tradition. With that, the sky is the limit, and I was excited by the opportunity to shape a small piece of our legacy,” he said.

During his two terms as a student trustee, Andrew enjoyed being able to meet with biologists from Chicago, engineers from Urbana, political leaders from Springfield, alumni leaders in business, and everyone in between.

“Whether it was discussing tuition issues, debt capacity, or building a new recreation center, there was never a dull conversation or a lack of something new to learn,” he said.
His tenure on the BOT has given Andrew a greater appreciation for the value of higher education.

“That really connected one night when I was driving home from Chicago after working with other Board members on the recent presidential search,” he remembers. “When I was a baby, my parents had to struggle to buy diapers for me. But because of their hard work and the power of public higher education, here I was, at age 22, able to meet with leaders in business, law, and education to select the sixteenth University of Illinois president,” he said.

Andrew also thinks the relationship UIS has with state politics is phenomenal and that aspect of the campus clearly stands out and makes UIS an ideal place to build a career in politics. He has used his own experience as a tool to heighten his political knowledge by taking advantage of the opportunities available to UIS students, including serving an Applied Study internship with the Illinois Banker’s Association during spring 2005. He said this experience allowed him to enhance his contacts in the Capitol while gaining practical experience with legislators, lobbyists, and many other players in state politics.

“Most importantly,” he said, “UIS gave me access to the people I needed to meet to start a career in politics, and in this field, that’s half the battle.”

For the fall semester, Andrew was chosen for an internship with the Illinois House Republican Legislative Staff. As an intern, he will be assigned to a legislative committee, where he will conduct research on proposed legislation and advise the legislators on his findings.

Between classes and his work with the Board of Trustees, Andrew was able to build close relationships and grow as a person alongside many people who seemed much like a family to him. “The family-like atmosphere and close relationships I’ve developed with other students, faculty, staff, and administrators at UIS has made my college experience more than I could have hoped for.”

This summer, I am interested in learning about other people's experiences at UIS. If you’d like to share your campus experiences, please e-mail me at hshaf01s@uis.edu.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Learning Great Business Practices from UIS

By Heather Shaffer

Senior Capital Scholar Derek Koch has had many positive experiences while taking business and economic courses at UIS.

Derek decided to come to UIS because of the small class sizes and great housing options. He also liked the fact that UIS has the prestige of the University of Illinois name while still offering a small school environment and quiet atmosphere.

Derek has enjoyed living on-campus -- the first two years in Lincoln Residence Hall, which he described as fun yet conducive to studying and learning, and the past two years in the townhouses. He said he enjoys living in the townhouses as much as he enjoyed living in the residence hall.

Derek’s academic career at UIS has included coursework in business, management, marketing and economics. He said he enjoyed his business and economic courses because the information was useful and the professors were very knowledgeable and helpful.

During the summer of 2000, just before coming to UIS, Derek and his father began a business on eBay called PC Rejuvenator, from which they sell computer and electronic items. “I thought opening an eBay store would be a good way to start selling products, so I took the risk and got it started,” Derek said. He and his father began researching different products to sell, mostly computers and electronics, and slowly began listing the products on eBay. According to Derek, the business picked up and is still doing well.

Because of the knowledge he gained through owning his own business and through his coursework at UIS, Derek was able to obtain a summer internship at QuickDROP, a Springfield business that helps people sell things online. During his internship, Derek will help customers who bring items to the store, answering their questions, listing the items on eBay, helping ship items, and handling money for QuickDROP.

Derek found the internship through the UIS Applied Study Term Office. He said the AST staff was helpful in reviewing his resume and giving him advice and information about internship options.

Derek said that all the business classes he took at UIS will be useful during his internship, especially when he is handling money and working with customers. He also thinks that his Public Affairs Colloquia course Power and Negotiation will be useful dealing with customers and his supervisors. He added that another course he took on web design and HTML will be helpful when listing items on eBay.

He believes that his coursework at UIS has helped him improve his own eBay business. “I have learned so much in my business and economic courses that I will be able to apply to my business to help us become bigger and better.” He added, “I think my experiences at UIS will help me get a great job after I graduate.”

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Astronomy Program - So Much to Offer

By Melanie Cain

Over 50 years ago, Charles Schweighauser began working in the field of astronomy. After studying the subject in college, he was director of St. Louis' McDonnell Planetarium during the 1960s; then, in 1975, Schweighauser became this campus’ resident astronomer.

Astronomy -- the science of stars, planets, black holes, galaxies, and the universe -- holds a fascination for people of all ages. As Schweighauser says, “We are the children of stars,” meaning that all humanity somehow shares a connection to the long history of the stars.

In the spring of 1977, the first Friday night star parties were held at the campus observatory atop Brookens Library. Since then, more than 120,000 people have taken part in fall and spring star parties, which average about 200-300 visitors each time. Visitors to a star party can use three different telescopes to look at the moon, planets, deep sky objects, and constellations. Hundreds of pictures of various sky findings are mounted throughout the observatory as well.

The observatory also opens its door for special celestial events, such as eclipses and comets. In 1996, the Comet Hyakutake drew one of the biggest crowds -- over 2,000 people -- to the observatory. In 1994, the observatory played a large role in the study and viewing of a solar eclipse when program staff provided information to local and even national newspapers. They also provided live television feeds to NBC, CBS, ABC, and CNN, as well as schools throughout Illinois through the Illinois Office of Education.

Although the observatory provides many excellent viewing opportunities for area residents, the astronomy program also does a great deal of research. Facilities include the main campus observatory, along with two other research observatories located in the Springfield area, and equipment includes one 8-inch and one 14-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, one 6-inch and one 8-inch Newtonian telescope, a 20-inch research telescope, a diffraction grating spectrograph, a hydrogenalpha filter, an objective prism, and a charge-coupled device. The program also owns another telescope with a fixed focal point that was designed for people with disabilities. Schweighauser developed the idea for this telescope himself and it was built in 1997, the first of its kind.

The main research goals of the program are to characterize what stars are doing, how they formed, and how they are evolving. Students are also working to fill in the Hertzsprung-Russel (HR) Diagram, which will help researchers understand why stars do what they do. Schweighauser and his students constantly share their research with other individuals all around the world.

The program currently offers 10 classes, such as Survey of the Universe, Astrophysics, Observational Astronomy, and Galaxies: Structure and Evolution. While UIS students cannot earn a degree in astronomy/physics, they can pursue an individualized degree that includes astronomy-physics through the individual option or liberal studies programs.

Asked what he enjoys most about working in the field of astronomy, Schweighauser simply states, “I enjoy it all!” He truly loves the public outreach of the UIS program, and he also enjoys working with students of all ages. “The past 30 years here have been the best times of my life.”

If you want to learn more about the astronomy program at UIS, visit www.uis.edu/astronomy or send an email to asp@uis.edu.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

First Graduating Class of Capital Scholars

By Melanie Cain

Back in the fall of 2001, UIS began the Capital Scholars Honors program and admitted approximately 100 students into that first class. After four fulfilling, productive, and fun-filled years, this class has now graduated from UIS and the students are moving on to some truly wonderful and exciting endeavors.

Jason Kennedy, from Decatur, graduated with a degree in Economics. He was a very active member of many student organizations at UIS. In the fall, he will be heading to George Washington University to pursue a master’s degree in International Affairs.

Jennifer Poss, from Crystal Lake, earned her Business Administration degree and a minor in International Studies at UIS. Beginning in the fall, she will spend a year in Ashikaga, Japan, teaching English to Japanese students. When she returns to this country, she hopes to do international relations work for a Japanese corporation.

Andrew Hollingsead earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Studies and served as the UIS student representative to the Board of Trustees. In the fall, he will be working for the Illinois House Republican staff as a part of the Illinois Legislative Staff Internship Program.

Gabrielle Wiegand, originally from Peoria, graduated from UIS with a bachelor’s degree in Political Studies and a minor in Communication. During the summer, she will be working for Serafin and Associates, a Chicago public relations firm. In the fall, she will return to UIS and begin work toward her master’s in Political Studies.

Phillip Reinhardt, from Albers, earned his degree in Computer Science. This summer, Phillip will continue in his position as an information technology specialist for the Infrastructure/Network Support Division at Scott Air Force Base in Belleville. In the fall, he will also be working towards his master’s in Computer Science from Webster University.

Christine Tabayoyong graduated with a degree in Visual Arts. Christine, from Woodridge, will be spending her summer teaching art classes to children at the River Forest Montessori School. She was also accepted into the Harrington Interior Design College in Chicago and will begin taking classes there in the fall.

Jason Stuebe, from Danville, earned his bachelor’s in Political Studies. Jason also served as the Student Government Association president during his junior year. In the fall, he will either be taking part in the Graduate Public Service Internship program working for the Department of Corrections or working as staff for the General Assembly as a part of the ILSIP program, all in the pursuit of a master’s in Public Administration at UIS.

Emily Angel graduated with a bachelor’s degree in History. Emily is from Jerseyville and completed an Applied Study internship with the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency during her time in Springfield. She is currently working for the National Park Service in Skagway, Alaska, at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

My Great Experience at UIS

By Heather Shaffer

My name is Heather Shaffer and some of you may already know me from my time as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper here at UIS. This summer, I’ll be interviewing students, faculty, and staff about their experiences at this university and writing about it for others to read on the UIS website. Since I plan to be out and about during the next couple of months asking a lot of people a lot of questions, I thought it was only fair to tell you a little about myself first.

Three years ago when I was searching for a college, UIS stuck out in my mind for many reasons -- the small class sizes, the housing options, and the Capital Scholars Program to name just a few. I know now that I made the right choice -- the classes are the perfect size, the housing options are probably the best in the state, and the Capital Scholars Program was a great way to spend my first two years on campus.

During my first semester, I started looking for a job to earn extra money. In the financial aid office there was a posting for an office assistant at the student newspaper, The Journal. I went to an interview for that position and walked out with a reporting job!

I was a reporter for The Journal for three semesters and loved every minute of it. As a reporter, I was able to attend events and meet people that I probably would not have been able to otherwise. It was also exciting to see my pieces published each week and I took great pride in my work.

In spring 2004, I was promoted to managing editor. In that position, I assigned stories to other staff members and worked with them on those assignments. I also helped with miscellaneous things that needed to be done and still wrote one article a week.

That semester, I learned that the editor-in-chief position would be open in the fall and I decided I should at least interview for it -- if for no other reason than to get my foot in the door. Much to my surprise, I was offered the position for the 2004-2005 school year.

Serving as editor-in-chief of The Journal has been an amazing experience that gave me the opportunity to learn about every aspect of putting together a publication. I learned about layout and design and photography and further developed my skills in reporting and management. I also had the opportunity to meet and work with some great people.

My academic work at UIS has also helped me develop as a journalist, since I’ve been able to mold my studies to fit what I think will help me in the future. Capital Scholars courses such as What is Power? and Writing for the Humanities helped me gain critical thinking and writing skills. Communication course such as News Writing and Gathering, Photography I, Graphic Design I, and Persuasion have also helped me gain skills that will be helpful someday soon when I start the search for my dream newspaper job.

However, these experiences have already paid off because this summer I was offered a copy editing internship with the Daily Herald, a suburban Chicago newspaper based in Arlington Heights. During the internship, I’ll be able to use and further develop the editing, design, and writing skills I learned at The Journal and in class.

Outside of work and the classroom, living on campus has enhanced my overall experience at UIS. They say that most of what you learn in college, you learn outside the classroom, and I have found that this is true. Living on campus, attending classes, and participating in various campus events, I’ve met people from all walks of life. Through events such as the International Festival and Springfest, I have been able to interact with people from a variety of cultures. I think the diversity of UIS’ student population is definitely a plus because it allows us to learn from one another.

I am incredibly grateful for the path my life has taken and I think my time at UIS has helped me develop. Choosing UIS as a college was probably the best decision I have ever made. Through my studies I’ve gained valuable knowledge and experience that I know will help me land a great job. Living and studying here has been something that I’ll remember forever.

Now, since I’ve had such a great experience here myself, I’m interested in finding out what other people think about UIS. If you’d like to share your campus experiences, please e-mail me at hshaf01s@uis.edu.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Springfest 2005 - A Huge Success

By Melanie Cain

This past Saturday Springfest 2005, one of the most fun-filled and exciting weeks on the UIS campus, came to a close. Each year, Springfest is a time full of great activities and competitions involving people from all over campus. The theme for this year was “Brought to You Since ’92” and, as always, the event was a huge success.

The week started off with a thrilling basketball game between the Blue Crew and FAST, a team made up of faculty and staff members, including Chancellor Ringeisen. The Blue Crew won by a score of 76-53 and after the game the Springfest Kick-Off BBQ in the student life plaza provided plenty of free food.

Monday was the first day of competition for the 14 Springfest teams. The opening event, Whose Line Duo, gave all the team members a chance to show off their creativity and improvisation skills. Many of the evening’s performances were hilarious and included some truly funny imitations of UIS personalities.

The next night gave the teams a chance to put their knowledge of television music to the test with a rousing game of Name That Tune. Different program theme songs were played, and it was up to the teams to determine which show matched the song. The game ended with the final two teams facing off in a very entertaining theme song “sing off.”

On Wednesday afternoon, students could attend an after-school special, 1 in 4 No More, a program focusing on the dangers of rape. Later that night one of the most anticipated Springfest events, the Flag and Chant Competition, was held. Every year, teams spend hours designing their flags and writing clever songs in hopes of impressing the judges and winning first place, and this year was no exception. The resulting flags and chants revealed some great talents in both design and composition.

If you were on campus Thursday night, you probably saw hundreds of students running around taking random pictures and looking for some very odd items. The Springfest Scavenger Hunt is always a popular event, and this year’s list-makers sent teams on a mad dash to locate a four leaf clover, a peso, a sombrero, and lots of other things you don’t see every day.

On Friday, the teams were again tested on their television knowledge in a Trivia Game Show, and then everyone had a great time dancing the night away at the annual Springfest Dance, which featured a tropical beach theme.

Saturday was the big day for team competition, and each team was determined to make one final push for the championship. The day’s events included flag football, ultimate Frisbee, kickball, sand volleyball, and -- the final Springfest event -- mud tug-of-war. All the teams put forth a great effort, and it came down to the very last event before the champions could be determined. In the end, team PXII was victorious by just three points, the Old Skool Cappie Crew took second place, and the Best Buds rounded out the top three.

Springfest 2005 was a great success, thanks to the hard work put in by all the volunteers and to everyone who participated in one way or another. For a list of final team standings or to see pictures from all the events, be sure to check out www.Springfest2005.com.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Living an Extraordinary Life

By Melanie Cain

Kimberly Pate has lived quite an extraordinary life, and her accomplishments can serve as an inspiration to us all. A traffic accident when she was 18 injured Kim’s spinal cord and left her a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the shoulders down. But Kim was determined to keep living her life to the fullest, and a year after her injury she went to Miami to take part in a documented research program, the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.

She stayed in Florida for nine years, and during that time was involved with Shake-A-Leg, a program that designs sailboats for individuals with disabilities, worked on her water skiing skills, and was sponsored by the Miami Ski Club to go snow skiing with the Physically Challenged Ski Program in Crested Butte, Colorado.

After attending a community college in Florida, Kim transferred to UIS in 1998 to work toward a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. At UIS, Kim was very impressed with the disability services available and was extremely pleased with the accessibility that the campus provided. In fact, she’s quick to point out that, of the three schools she has attended, her experience at UIS was by far the best.

“Karla (Carwile) and the others at the Disability Services Office were great. I felt comfortable on campus immediately and was impressed with their system,” Kim recalled.

During her time at UIS, Kim took advantage of many of the services offered by Disability Services, including a student note-taker during classes and an adaptive writing device. “With the assistance I received from Disability Services, I was able to focus on my educational goals rather than battle potential obstacles,” she said.

Karla Carwile, Disability Services director, had nothing but great memories of Kim as well. “Probably the thing that sticks out most in my mind is her wonderful personality,” said Karla. “She is always smiling and always glad to see you. She was a pleasure to work with, and her dedication to her studies was very apparent.”

A few years after Kim’s graduation from UIS, she embarked on another incredible journey, competing in and winning the 2004 Ms. Wheelchair Illinois pageant. Contestants are judged on their self-perception, their accomplishments since the onset of their disability, and their ability to speak about disability-related issues.

“Being Ms. Wheelchair Illinois was an amazing experience,” said Kim. During her reign, she took part in a number of events, including Chicago’s first Disability Pride Parade, the ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the new Center for Independent Living in Havana, and a celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act at the Jacksonville Area Center for Independent Living, to name just a few.

Kim currently lives in Virginia, Illinois, and works as a licensed professional counselor at the Cass County Mental Health Agency in Beardstown. She earned a master’s degree in Education in Counseling and is a nationally certified counselor. Kim is very involved in Think First, a head and spinal cord injury prevention program. She also works with the American Counseling Association and serves as a board member for the Jacksonville Area Center for Independent Living.