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

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

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

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