Friday, June 30, 2017

Leadership lived: Love of music brings international student to UIS

Music has been a part of Yu Shao’s life since she was six-years-old. That’s when she first started playing the Guzheng, a traditional Chinese instrument with thousands of years of history.

“I love the voice, I love the tune so much,” she said. “It’s a 21 string instrument. It gives you a lot of flexibility to create your own music or focus on the composer’s music to express yourself.”

Shao says it was her love of music that brought her to the University of Illinois Springfield where she is majoring in accountancy and is a Camerata Music Scholar. She regularly sings with the UIS Chorus and plays in small ensembles.

Shao is vice president of the Student Accounting Society and helps other international students adjust to campus life as a student worker for the Office of International Student Services. She answers student questions over the phone and by email and helps plan important events.

“I highly recommend UIS to the international students because our campus is super fun,” she said. “We have a lot of traditional activities that are fun for the international student to get involved in, such as Springfest and the International Student Festival.”

Shao admits that it was a challenging transition to leave China and come to the United States. However, she says she now feels at home at UIS.

“My English was poor when I came here, but I got enrolled in Intensive English Program classes for one semester and it really helped me to get involved in American culture and to get to know more about English,” she said.

Following graduation from UIS, Shao would like to stay in the United States and pursue her master’s degree and find a job in the business field.

“I think the biggest things I’ve learned from UIS is take advantage of any challenges,” she said. “I believe that if a thing doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you at all.”

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Leadership lived: UIS student helps future Prairie Stars transition to college

The first time Marquiera Harris visited the University of Illinois Springfield she felt so welcomed that she instantly knew that UIS was her perfect fit. Now, the social work major is helping other students make the transition to UIS as an orientation coordinator.

“I love this campus,” she said. “It’s beautiful and definitely feels like home away from home. The professor’s care, they want you to get involved and I try my best to be involved.”

As a student orientation coordinator, Harris supervises 18 student orientation employees and helps to coordinate social media operations. On the day of orientation, she is responsible for supervising the help desk for new students and their parents.

“I make sure everything is going smoothly at the help desk in the mornings and make sure that students get to where they need to be,” she said.

UIS holds a total of six orientations for new students in June, July and August, which often means that Harris is working 50 to 60 hours a week to make sure everything goes as planned.

“We always get comments that ‘everything ran so smoothly’ and I’m always amazed because they don’t see the stuff that goes on behind the scenes, the little hiccups, but we make sure they don’t see it,” she said.

Harris says she has learned many lessons about leadership by supervising fellow student employees, many of whom she is friends with after hours.

“It’s been an amazing experience, stepping out of my comfort zone and taking the initiative to be a leader,” she said.

On campus, Harris also serves as the organizational liaison for the Research Society at UIS where she helps to plan events. She recently presented her academic research at the Midwestern Psychological Association meeting in Chicago and at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in Memphis, Tennessee.

“UIS has been an amazing fit for me,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a great pay off in the end.”

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Leadership lived: Student learns hands-on lessons from summer internship

University of Illinois Springfield senior Information Systems Security major Justin Brown is making the most out of his summer by interning at Horace Mann’s Security Operations Center in Springfield. He helps monitor, review and take action on abnormal web or email traffic that might be coming through the network.

“This internship is providing a lot of hands-on experience,” he said. “I’m taking a lot of the theories and practices I’ve learned in my courses at UIS and actually putting them into application here at the company.”

Brown says he enjoys working in the cyber security field because of the challenge.

“It’s really a big challenge, especially because you have to stay on top of all of the new attacks that happen almost daily,” he said. “I really enjoy stepping up to the challenge.”

On campus, Brown is a member of the Computer Science Club and the Christian Student Fellowship (CSF). He’s also part of the UIS Prairie Stars cross country and track and field teams. He was one of the first students to join the cross country team when it started in 2015.

“I really enjoy being a part of a new team and really being able to step up into a leadership role for the new members that may come on throughout the years and really kind of show them the ropes of what it means to be a collegiate runner,” he said.

Following graduation from UIS, Brown plans to find a full-time job in the information systems security field.

“Overall, my UIS experience has been pretty great,” he said. “Being able to be a part of the student-athlete body as well as part of the overall campus in general is just great. It’s definitely been everything I wanted in a campus.” 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Leadership lived: Future lawyer finds passion for volunteering at UIS

University of Illinois Springfield legal studies and political science major Payton Roberts loves volunteering with children on and off campus.

At UIS, she is the volunteer coordinator for the Lee Elementary Homework Club. She and other UIS students travel to the school weekly to help kids with their homework and teach them about different cultures from around the world.

“I love getting to walk into the classroom every week and just seeing the kids’ faces light up and know that you’re making a difference, no matter how little it may seem,” she said. “One hour a week or an hour and a half a week to us, it means the world to these kids.”

Roberts has also spent the past two summers volunteering with kids in Israel. She’s also spent a summer interning in Washington, D.C.

As a legal studies major, she serves as the vice president of the Pre-Law Society and works in the Pre-Law Center. She is also the undergraduate student representative for the UIS Legal Studies Department. She is also a member of the UIS Capital Scholars Honors Program.

Roberts said UIS has taught her that leadership “starts from the bottom” and that everyone can be a leader, no matter their role.

“The volunteers and people making a difference behind closed doors, those are the true leaders,” she said. “The people who don’t get recognized. I think those are the people that UIS really values the most.”

Roberts recently accepted a new internship with the Illinois Legislative Research Unit at the Illinois State Capitol. Following that internship, she plans to attend law school.

“I feel like I’ve been really blessed,” she said. “I came to a really good school that’s helped me find things that I’m passionate about and work those into the career that I want to have some day.”

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Leadership lived: Student leads effort to maintain UIS Community Garden

The first time biology major Daniel Rodriguez volunteered at the University of Illinois Springfield Community Garden he wasn’t sure what to expect. However, he soon found himself having fun tending to the garden and watching it grow.

Rodriguez is now leading the effort to maintain the garden over the summer as the project coordinator. It’s a paid student position where he works 20 hours a week.

“My daily responsibilities include watering the plants, making sure no animals get inside, pulling weeds and organizing volunteers,” he said.

The UIS Community Garden was started by a group of students and Assistant Professor Megan Styles in 2016. It is located just north of the historic Strawbridge-Shepherd House on the UIS campus. The garden provides locally grown food to the campus community.

“Harvesting is not stealing here, so as long as you’re helping out with the garden and want to stop by and take a few plants after everything is grown you’re more than welcome,” said Rodriguez.

During the school year, Rodriguez is also active as a member of the TARA Meditation Club, the Biology Club and plays on the dodge ball team.

When he’s not tending to the garden, Rodriguez works as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at a Springfield nursing home. Following graduation from UIS, he plans to continue his education in the medical field and become a physician assistant.

However, he says he’ll never forget the lessons he’s learned about leadership at UIS.

“UIS taught me that leadership is not only a one man job,” he said. “You definitely need help from others in order to have a leadership role. You’re taking on the responsibility, but you’re also giving them the responsibility and you’re here for them as well.”

Rodriguez, a Joliet, Illinois native, says he would recommend UIS to others because of the academic quality and the opportunities available to students on campus.

“It may not be the biggest campus, but it’s where we all get together and make long-lasting bonds. It’s just a heck of a time to be at UIS.”

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Leadership lived: Student learns about other cultures by studying abroad

Before enrolling in classes at the University of Illinois Springfield, Abbegayle Stevenson had never traveled outside the country. Now, she’s traveled to five countries in Europe and is about to embark on a summer study abroad trip to Croatia.

“I actually decided I wanted to study abroad when I came for a campus visit before I even started coming to UIS,” she said. “I stopped at the study abroad table and it just seemed so interesting.”

Stevenson, a social work major at UIS, spent the past 9 months studying abroad in Trollhättan, Sweden at Högskolan Väst (University West).

“It was weird at first, because I was so used to coming to UIS, but once I landed in Sweden I could already tell it was going to be a different atmosphere and it was,” she said. “We would have 10 week courses and that was it, so I only had 3 or 4 courses, but it was spread out throughout the semester.”

The shorter classes allowed Stevenson to have time to travel around Europe. She traveled to Norway, Italy, France and Spain and saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Eiffel Tower and the Roman Colosseum. She also made a lot of friends along the way.

“I created some Swedish friends and they helped me out with where to go and places to see,” she said. “They were just all around great friends and I can’t wait to go back and visit them.”

At UIS, Stevenson is a founding member of the Chi Chapter of the Gamma Phi Omega International Sorority Inc. and is a member of the Leadership for Life Service Organization.

Following graduation from UIS, she wants to earn her master’s degree in social work and eventually work for the Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS).

However, before she graduates, she plans to continue to travel and experience new cultures by studying abroad. She encourages other UIS students to take advantage.

“People say they found themselves when they studied abroad. I can honestly say that I think I did,” she said. “I grew as a person and as an individual.”