Reaching Stellar: Stories of The Public Good
Elise Simmons | Meeting A Need for Illinois
Providing teachers for Illinois has suddenly become a lot more important. According to a report released by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools,* 85% of Illinois districts report some level of teacher shortage and 19% said they have had to cut programs or classes because of the shortage.
Elise Simmons, who is majoring in elementary education, will help to meet this need. In addition to her time with excellent UIS professors, Elise also furthers her preparation for teaching by working as an AVID tutor in a local middle school (AVID prepares students for college) and as a 5th-grade teacher’s assistant at Butler Elementary School. She also volunteers with Generation Healthy Kids, a program that teaches kids about healthy cooking and the importance of physical activity. So she is contributing to the Public Good now and will in the future as well.
The Public Good is a Reaching Stellar priority….because we are all on this journey together.
*Illinois Educator Teacher Shortage Crisis 2018 (Version 2019.2), https://iarss.org/wp-content/uploads/IllinoisEducatorShortage_IARSS_FY19.pdf.
A Stellar Professor and Passionate Advocate for UIS
The University of Illinois Foundation’s William E. Winter Award for Outstanding Advocate Leadership recognizes individuals outside of the University structure who play active roles in securing private support for the University of Illinois.
On April 17, 2019, Dr. Larry Shiner received the Winter award in recognition of his passionate advocacy of UIS. He has a special interest in the art, music and theater programs at UIS, all of which contribute to the Public Good in Central Illinois and beyond. He and his wife, Catherine Walters, generously support UIS financially, including the Suzanna Kay Shiner Scholarship Endowment Fund, created by Larry and Catherine in 2002 in memory of their daughter.
The Public Good is a Reaching Stellar campaign priority because…we are all part of this journey together.
NPR Illinois’ Statewide has a State-Wide Reach
When NPR staff travel to other locations in the state, according to Managing Director Randy Eccles, people frequently approach Sean Crawford with statements like, “We listen every week, Sean,” or “Love your show, Sean!”
These far-flung fans are talking about Statewide, hosted by Sean Crawford, a show that is heard on nine public radio stations in Illinois. The show airs reports and conversations from in and around Illinois. In addition to government issues, the show covers topics as diverse as cave exploration, electric vehicles, mortuary science, and baseball history. It is a production of NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS with help from other Illinois public radio stations.
Statewide is a great example of the Public Good to which UIS contributes, not only in Central Illinois but in this instance throughout the State of Illinois.
The Public Good is an important Reaching Stellar priority……because we are all on this journey together.
SSU Grad Still Serving the Public Good at 80
Betty Kehl Richardson graduated in the first class of bachelor’s degree nurses at Sangamon State (now UIS). She earned many graduate degrees, including a Ph.D. in psychology and mental health. At 80, she has an amazing heart for service.
A Red Cross volunteer, Betty was recently deployed to Chico, California, to work with the Paradise fire survivors. She’s also a docent at her state history museum (Texas) and a Rotarian. When her son Mark died on 2017, she set up a memorial fund in his name which she uses to supply books, bookshelves and computers for a grade school in Reynosa, Mexico. In the picture, she is delivering pen pal letters from the Reynosa school to a school in Austin, her home. They will write letters in return. “There are so many things to do to be of service to others,” she says. UIS is still committed to developing a heart for the public good in students.
Rachel Otwell | NPR Investigative Project
Rachel Otwell, a reporter for NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS, has been awarded a grant from ProPublica for a year-long investigative project that focuses on issues related to sexual harassment and abuse on college and university campuses in Illinois. The grant provides funding, research, editorial and engagement support. ProPublica has provided similar grants to 13 other newsrooms across the nation “to execute accountability stories that would not otherwise have been possible.”
“The issue of sexual violence on college campuses is one I’ve been interested in reporting on for a long time,” Otwell said. “I look forward to doing my small part in helping survivors and others have their voices heard, in hopes of change.” (Based on a news article from NPR Illinois.)
Alexus Venegas-Rodriguez | Habitat for Humanity
A Guest Post by UIS Student Alexus Venegas-Rodriguez
“Volunteering for Habitat for Humanity is one of the most memorable experiences I have had at UIS. Five of us signed up together. When we entered the van, we barely knew each other. That was not the case at the end of the day. We had the job of organizing newly donated furniture and supplies. The five of us worked together and learned how to efficiently comply with the needs of the organization and this community. We were not just organizing furniture. We were helping the other workers who spend every day helping people in need. It was a great opportunity to meet fantastic people from widely different backgrounds. Without volunteers, this wonderful organization would not have expanded to its current size. I gained some great friends through this experience while helping my community become its best.”
Each year, UIS students contribute thousands of hours of volunteer service to Springfield and the surrounding communities.
Because we are all on this journey together.
Illinois Innocence Project | Wrongful Conviction Day
UIS students interning and volunteering with the Illinois Innocence Project have created a flag display to celebrate the 2018 Wrongful Conviction Day. The display recognizes the 2,271 innocent men and women who were convicted of crimes they did not commit and have been exonerated since 1989. “UIS blue” flags in the display represent 237 Illinois exonerees. The Illinois Innocence Project has contributed to 11 of those exonerations. Jayde Schlesinger, master’s student in Public Administration and volunteer with the Project, said, “I am excited to go in to the Project every single day. It’s such a long process from someone first writing the Project to possibly being exonerated, but every day is a step closer to the outcome that we all want.” Learn more about the Illinois Innocence Project here.
Ben Paoletti | Leadership for Life Service Program
At UIS, new students can choose to live on the Leadership for Life Service Wing, or L4L. As part of this service and leadership community, students take a class together and commit to 40 hours of service each semester.
Ben Paoletti is one such student. A sophomore political science and philosophy major, Ben says, “My experience at UIS has really sparked my passion for volunteerism and civic engagement.” This year Ben is a resident assistant on the Leadership for Life Service Wing. He’s looking forward to helping students get involved on campus, with community events, as well promote school spirit and civic engagement.
Michelle Norris | Fighting Against Human Trafficking
A class assignment led Michelle Norris to Grounds of Grace, a Springfield organization that helps victims of human trafficking involved in forced labor, sexual slavery or commercial exploitation. This is a practice that happens throughout the country, not just in big cities. Soon after getting involved, Michelle heard about a task force on human trafficking. She thought she might sit in on the meetings just to learn more, but once there, she began taking on more and more tasks. Now she is leading meetings, recruiting members and handling other administrative duties. “UIS pushed me to want to make a difference in my community,” she says. “I am deeply grateful to everyone who has invested in my education.”
Michelle plans to become a victim specialist after earning a Master’s Degree in Social Work from UIS.
Meet Hannah Warden
Meet Hannah Warden, Business Administration major. She is the force behind the 2018 UIS Dance Marathon that raised more than $10,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network. Hannah and her team of volunteers spent the year raising awareness and funds for the HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital, culminating in the Marathon where students got a chance to meet some of the patients treated at St. John’s and their families. She volunteers at the hospital most weeks. “There are some of the kids who have spent days, weeks and years in the hospital,” Hannah said, “so anything I can do to give back to them is amazing and it brings me a lot of joy.” Hannah was honored with the UIS Star Student Award at the Springfield’s 2018 Good as Gold Ceremony.
Illinois Issues Forum
This year, NPR continues to tour the state, featuring an expert panel and seeking solutions to the continuing fiscal problems in Illinois and discussing prominent issues 2018 election. Stay tuned to learn about the next Illinois Issues Forum. The Illinois Issues Forum is produced and hosted by NPR Illinois with support provided by AARP Illinois. Because we are all part of this journey together.
Scott Reimers | An Unselfish Public Servant
Scott Reimers earned a Master’s in Public Administration from UIS in 1995. He currently serves the Public Good as Assistant Vice President for State Legislative Affairs for the Illinois State Medical Society. On May 10, 2018, Scott received the prestigious Rail Splitter Public Service Award from the local chapter of the American Society for Public Administration. The Rail Splitter award honors a public servant who exhibits the highest standard of excellence, dedication and accomplishment. Upon receiving the award, he challenged those in attendance to choose a student to mentor and make it their business to assist that student as he or she moves from academics into a public affairs profession.
Katie Brethorst | Dana Thomas House Volunteer
Katie Brethorst, a history major from Carlyle, Illinois, loves telling stories. That love, coupled with her love of history, has led to a deeply satisfying role at the Dana Thomas House in Springfield. Katie first toured the house with her UIS Capital Scholars Honors class. She enjoyed the tour so much that she returned with her mother and boyfriend, which is when she discovered she could serve at the facility as a tour guide. She now volunteers three times a week, perfectly blending her love of storytelling and history: “I fell in love with the history and the house immediately.” Like so many UIS students and alumni, Katie is serving the Public Good: Engagement. Collaboration. Impact. Because we are all part of this journey together.
PNC Foundation | Helping Springfield-Area Kids Grow Up Great
For the past seven years, approximately 600 local Head Start children have attended two shows at Sangamon Auditorium thanks to a grant from the PNC Foundation “Grow Up Great” initiative. Prior to the performance, Auditorium staff go to all 36 Springfield-area Head Start facilities to prepare children for the performance and leave a book of the play being performed. The program also provides training in the arts for Head Start teachers, and brings Head Start families for an evening performance at the Auditorium. Teachers appreciate the program, as do the families, who have had responses like this to the evening performance: “The kids were full of excitement and wonderment.” “My grand-daughter loved it all.” “Thank you for the opportunity to bring my family.”