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.