Reaching Stellar: Stories of The Public Good

Service-a-Thon
2018 Service-A-Thon ends Welcome Week.

Elise SimmonsElise 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.

Larry ShinerA 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.

You can learn more about Larry’s advocacy in this article and through this video, shown during the award ceremony.

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.

Betty RichardsonSSU 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 OtwellRachel 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.)

Wrongful Conviction Day 2018Illinois 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.

Read more about Ben Paoletti and about funds that support the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center.

Michelle NorrisMichelle 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.