Wednesday, March 31, 2010

UIS College Democrat and GOP student leaders have different views, but share one roof

University of Illinois Springfield political science majors Matt Van Vossen and Ryan Melchin have been friends since their freshmen year, even with very different political views.

When it came time to pick a roommate their junior year they decided to move in with each other. That’s when all the jokes started. Van Vossen is the president of the College Democrats on campus, while Melchin serves as the chairman of the College Republicans.

“(People) sort of made fun of us a little bit, then they said maybe this is what our actual leaders should be doing working together and being civil to each other,” said Melchin.

The two try to leave politics at the door when they come home, but living under one roof does have its advantages. The pair has coordinated watch parties for events like the State of the Union, which have brought both parties together on campus.

“It just comes to a point where you just stop debating about it and settle on the idea your not going to change the other person’s mind,” said Van Vossen.

Van Vossen says during the health care debate every television in their town house was tuned into C-SPAN at one time.

“I think my other roommates might have got sick of that, but it was only a few nights,” he added.

The political duo lives with two other roommates in campus housing, one a democrat and the other leans independent.

“When I moved in, there were all democrats living in the house. There was a lot of democrat stuff hanging up. I had a sign that my buddy got me that said ‘drill, baby, drill’ and I decided without telling them to just put it up,” said Melchin.

The two hope they will in fact serve as role models for politicians.

“I think it would be interesting if they put John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi in the same house and forced them to live together. I’d like to see that,” joked Van Vossen.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

UIS Admissions Counselors keep busy visiting local high schools

Amanda Bly
knows how to multitask. As a UIS Admissions Counselor she’s out the door every morning at 7:00 visiting an average of 3 high schools per day along with stops at community colleges.

Bly is one of eight admissions counselors who travel around the state and beyond meeting with prospective students and answering their questions about the University of Illinois Springfield.

“More and more people through my 4 years have gained some familiarity with the campus and they realize we provide students with a U of I degree,” said Bly.

When she’s not on the road, Bly is making follow-up calls, sending emails and postcards to students she’s met. She covers an area from Sangamon County to the Indiana border.

Bly says most frequently students ask her about the cost of tuition, what majors UIS has to offer and class size.

“I really like the small classrooms and I’m just really excited. I really like it,” said high school senior Mallory Beck.

Beck will graduate from Sacred Heart-Griffin High School in Springfield this May and she’s already committed to attending UIS.

“She (Bly) told us about the teachers and how they have a close relationship with their students,” said Beck.

SHG senior Will Pufundt is looking forward to attending UIS for two reasons. He wants to join the new men’s baseball team and is also excited about the small class sizes.

“I really like the hands on teaching, because I don’t think I could do well without the hands on teaching,” said Pufundt.

UIS is hoping to admit 350 new freshmen next semester in an effort to boost the undergraduate population. The ultimate goal is to top an enrollment of more than 5,000 total students.

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Student named finalist in national college photography contest

Sue Huskins, a UIS Communication graduate student and photography teaching assistant to Mike Duvall, Professor of Communication, has recently been notified that she is a finalist in the 29th Annual College Student Photography contest co-sponsored by Photographer’s Forum Magazine and Nikon.

Out of almost 14,000 entries from the United States, Canada, and around the world, Sue’s submitted photograph, “Hidden from View”, has placed in the top 4% finalist selection group. “Hidden from View” was taken with a medium format camera and processed using traditional black and white darkroom developing techniques. Also exhibited in the case are other tradition chemical black and white medium format photographs from Huskins’ portfolio.

Judges for the contest include Nell Campbell, photo editor of Photographer’s Forum Magazine; Douglas Manchee, chair of the photography department at Rochester Institute of Technology; Mark Takeuchi, faculty, Art Center School of Design, Pasadena; and Barbara Vilander, faculty, University of California at Santa Barbara.

Finalists are published in the 2010 “Best of College Photography Annual”. This is the second time Huskins has been a finalist in this photo contest (2008) and marks the third year in a row a UIS student has been selected to receive this honor. Huskins’ has also been a finalist and published in both the 2008 and 2009 “Best of Photography” annuals, after entering the contest designed for non-professional photographers.

A series of Sue Huskins’ digital photographs can be seen in the Office of Communication located on the 3rd floor of the UHB.

View some of her photos from the 2008 contest

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Student Newspaper The Journal wins several awards

The Journal brought eight awards back to Springfield this past weekend, including two first place awards, following the 2010 Illinois College Press Association’s annual conference.

Professional journalists from around Illinois awarded The Journal’s editorial board with a first-place plaque for an editorial published in fall 2009. Current editor-in-chief Luke Runyon also won first place for headline writing.

The winning editorial titled, “Got a problem? Try something besides Facebook,” tackled the issue of student apathy and the role of social media in that phenomenon. Judges commented that the piece was “a thoughtful, interesting take on the tired, old ‘student apathy’ editorial.”

Members of the winning editorial board include Andrew Mitchell, Kate Richardson, Valeree Dunn, Brittney Meyer and Runyon.

Current and former staff members also picked up several awards. Former public affairs reporter Laurel Bollinger won second place in the sports news story category.

Former editor-in-chief Amanda Dahlquist and reporter Greta Myers won third place for headline writing in BEYOND magazine. Current assistant editor for news Richardson and Runyon won third place for feature page design also in BEYOND magazine.

Conference judges also awarded honorable mentions to former reporter Chris Ray for critical film review and to Runyon for sports news story. Sports reporter Marcus Johnson, former photographer Chris Izatt and Dahlquist won an honorable mention for sports page design. Izatt also won an honorable mention for sports photo.

The Journal competes against other nondaily papers at Illinois universities with enrollment numbers over 4,000 students. Schools in this category include Bradley University, Columbia College, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, University of Chicago and roughly 10 other schools.

The Illinois College Press Association includes more than 30 four-year universities from all over the state. At each annual conference, school newspapers may submit work from the previous year in 29 categories.

Click here to view a previous video about The Journal offers students hands-on experience in journalism.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Students find home away from home with Host Family Program

During his senior year, as he was beginning to explore options after graduation, UIS student Jeremy Winters was introduced to Darryl Thomas, who works for the government in an entrepreneurship program in Springfield.

“He took me in like family, invited me over for dinner, and I met his family,” Winters said. “I told him about how I want to start my own businesses and own some businesses. He really taught me how to network.”

The positive relationship between Winters and Thomas was created through the Host Family Program, which is part of the Diversity Center at UIS.

The Host Family Program was started last fall by Herb Caldwell, admission and community partner counselor for the Diversity Center. Caldwell said the concept of the program came from both his personal experience and programs he has seen as part of international student offices on other campuses.

“In the town I grew up in, when dorms would close, there would always be students from the local college at my home,” he said. “My parents would feed them meals, they’d come to church with us, we’d celebrate holidays when they couldn’t get back home, and they stayed with us for two to three weeks at a time. And then a lot of schools have something like this with international students, so I thought to combine the two elements.”

And so the Diversity Center’s Host Family Program was created to provide a home away from home for UIS students.

“We started the program in hopes of giving our students new opportunities to engage with people here in the Springfield community. It provides a link and helps with the transition process,” Caldwell said.

Winters, who graduated in December 2009, studied Communication at UIS and played for the men’s basketball team. He has family members who own businesses, and he’d like to go into business for himself one day. Caldwell saw Thomas and his family as a perfect fit for Winters’ host family.

“It’s just been a really nice experience,” Winters said. “Helping each other is the way we’re all going to get ahead.”

To become part of the Host Family Program, both families and students fill out an application and are then matched up. The students then are able to spend time with members of the host family, such as having dinner at their home or talking with them about future goals.

Currently, seven students at UIS are participating in the program. Caldwell said he sees the program as mutually beneficial for both the students and local families.

“Some of the people in these host families are alums or people who are doing well in the business community, and some of our students are trying to get to the places where the host families have already been,” he said. “So there’s the whole networking aspect and building connections that might help them with a job after they graduate.”

“And I don’t want to understate the fact that it provides comfort outside of the classroom, which helps with the transition and ultimately retention of students,” he added. “We’re always looking for solid families to participate; it makes the experience here at UIS stronger and better.”

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Monday, February 08, 2010

UIS Theatre faculty and student take part in play reading downtown

UIS Professors of Theatre Eric and Missy Thibodeaux-Thompson, as well as UIS Theatre student Ben Beams, will be performing in a play reading of William Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night on Saturday, February 27 at 7 p.m. at the Old State Capitol State Historic Site in downtown Springfield.

Kevin Purcell is the director, and other cast members include Aasne Vigesaa, Larry Smith, Tom Lawton, Troy Thomas-Pfaffe, Cassie Poe, and Nicole Sylvester. Audience members will be invited to read a few of the play’s smaller roles.

Over the Moon Productions is presenting the reading, and the performance is free and open to the public. Over the Moon Productions is a local theater group that also raises awareness and funds for causes related to its productions.

The Renaissance music group FEALTY will play for the reading. They will play pre-show music starting at 6:30 p.m. at the top of the circular stairs inside the Old State Capitol and will also play during the actual reading.

Twelfth Night; or What You Will was written by William Shakespeare in about 1600 and has many of the elements common to Elizabethan romantic comedy, including mistaken identity, separated twins, and gender-crossing disguise.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

UIS online students build community for "mid-lifers"

Amy Reeves decided to return to school after applying for a new position at her place of employment when she was told she would need a bachelor’s degree to be considered for an interview. Madeleine Ward said she simply wanted to continue her education in a more structured manner, so she is better able to contribute to society, and now hopes to go on to law school.

Reeves lives in Carlinville while Ward resides in Chicago. The two women met through the liberal studies program at UIS and bonded over going back to school in the “third age,” the age identified as being after young and middle but before “old.”

“Madeleine and I discovered we were in that same age group. We had a project to do about verbal arts and community, and Madeleine suggested a new community of older students (50+),” Reeves said. “It sounded so unique and on target that I jumped at the chance to work on it with her. The more we talked and the more Madeleine, in particular, dove into our subject matter, the more we realized just how much we could hopefully do for others like us.”

Reeves and Ward are now using social media tools to their full advantage to create a community of “third age” students. They hope to bring together other students who are in their age range and who need a community of support and encouragement to continue and finish their education. According to the office of Institutional Research at UIS, there were 277 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral students who are over the age of 50 at the university both online and on campus in fall 2009.

One of their first steps was creating a blog, found at

They created the blog so that others might help to enhance and complement the community of third age students and add information about the difficulties or successes of their school experience. Though the blog was started for a class project, they have plans to continue posting, increase readership and provide resources to other students.

The pair are currently blogging under the pseudonyms Betty and Veronica, who are characters from the Archie comics, popular when they were pre-teens and teenagers. They said they feel the history of the Archies is a bridge from their youth to today’s mid-life coed.

“It is important that a mid-lifer who is new to blogging or new to our blog realizes that we truly understand them; we’re from the same generation and remember many of the same things that happened throughout the years,” they wrote in a paper for class.

Reeves and Ward have also set up a Twitter account (ArchiesFriends) and Facebook page to bring together older students returning to school.

“They need to know they are not alone, and instead of getting information by trial and error, we can answer each other’s questions without each having to re-invent the wheel,” Ward said. “We would love to attract more students; all are welcome to join.”

Because so many older adults who return to school take classes online, especially at UIS, the two classmates felt that an online community made the most sense.

“I just hope we can reach out to others, who are debating about attending school,” Reeves said. “It’s so much different now; my program is solely online so I can work at a different pace that if I had to attend a class two or three times a week. I didn’t know online programs were even offered until I discovered UIS’ programs. How many others are out there like me?”

If you are interested in more information, contact Ward at 312/590-6129.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

UIS women's basketball player volunteers in West African hospital

Susan Coryell has known ever since she was a little girl she wanted to be a doctor, now she’s getting her chance to help others.

The UIS junior women’s basketball forward/center spent two months of her summer break volunteering in Ghana, West Africa at a military teaching hospital. She served as a nurse helping to change bandages and care for patients.

“Every day I just looked forward to going in and helping out and they got to know me,” said Coryell.

Coryell was in Ghana in July 2009, when President Barack Obama came to the country to speak about African relations and meet with Ghana’s President John Atta Mills. She was able to take pictures next to Air Force One and watched as Obama arrived in the country.

“I haven’t seen him in the United States, but I go abroad and I get to see my own president,” said Coryell.

Volunteering is nothing new for Coryell. As a member of the UIS women’s basketball team she’s involved in efforts every year to improve the local community.

“One of the attributes or foundations of NCAA Division II is service, so anytime we can give back to the community I think it’s positive,” said Marne Fauser, UIS women’s head coach.

Coryell and other members of the women’s team helped collect canned goods for UIS’ 2009 Holiday Star’s Project, which raised 3 tons of food for the Central Illinois Foodbank. Players are now launching a new partnership with the Special Olympics to help members improve their basketball skills.

“I just like being around kids. Giving back is always good,” said Coryell.

Coryell spends much of her time off the court teaching at the Cox Children's Center on campus. She hopes to one day become a pediatrician or orthopedic surgeon.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

UIS jumps on Google Wave for online learning tool

The University of Illinois Springfield is riding a new wave of online education.

UIS is one of the first universities in the nation to begin using Google Wave - an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration - for online learning and teaching, beginning in October 2009.

“We’re really excited to be working with Google Wave here at UIS,” said Ray Schroeder, director of the UIS Center for Online Learning, Research and Service. “One of the wonderful features of this new product is that it combines the Web 2.0 technologies that we have been accustomed to using on an individual basis. It molds all of these into a kind of an email or wiki format. And it enables students and others to use Web 2.0 technologies in a collaborative fashion.”

Wave was developed to answer the question: “what would email look like if we were to invent it today?”, Schroeder said. The product was released to developers in May and to the public as a beta in October.

“Email was invented nearly 40 years ago. As we developed technology over time, email was created to emulate snail mail and IM, or instant messaging, was more to emulate telephone conversations,” Schroeder said.

A wave, on the other hand, can be both a conversation and a document where people can discuss and work together using richly-formatted text, photos, videos, maps and more. In developing Wave, Google looked at “the way in which we can use technologies as they exist today rather than as analogs for technologies developed years ago,” Schroeder said.

And the new technology allows for many opportunities within the online classroom. Wave enables students to connect not only with each other in the classroom, but with people all around the world, Schroeder said.

“The technology allows for all kinds of collaborations,” he said. “You can drag and drop documents right into a wave rather than as attachments. You can come up with final product that can be saved and shared with a broader group.”

Other features of Google Wave include the ability to embed web pages, bring up live weather forecasts, look at maps and instantly change those maps to satellite views, Schroeder said. There is also a feature that will translate between different languages.

One of UIS’ efforts in testing the online teaching capabilities includes a collaboration outside of the classroom between students at UIS in the “Internet in American Life” course taught by Schroeder and Burks Oakley and students in energy studies at the Institute of Technology in Sligo, Ireland. The students are discussing the impact of the Internet on the perception of energy sustainability in Europe and the United States.

“Wave provides an opportunity to collaborate with people in other countries, and in our case, we collaborated with people in Ireland,” Schroeder said. “It’s phenomenal - our students meeting in a wave.”

COLRS also has several upcoming projects regarding Wave, including multiple national presentations, online workshops through the Sloan Consortium and training sessions for UIS faculty on using Wave. Two training sessions have already been conducted on campus.

“UIS is really out in the forefront of this,” Schroeder said. “This is a tremendous opportunity to use this technology to reach beyond our campus and our online program. It breaks down institutional and geographical boundaries.”

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

MIS online graduate student competes for Essence Magazine wedding package

Jasmine Harris, a 25-year-old online graduate student in Management Information Systems at UIS, is competing for a complete wedding package in the pages of Essence Magazine.

Harris lives in Manasas Park, VA and works at Lockheed Martin, where she met her future husband during an employee happy hour. She decided to enroll in the MIS program online because of its reputation.

“The course selection of the MIS program, the flexibility of the online courses, accreditation, along with the affordability of the tuition attracted me to the online program at UIS,” said Harris.

Her future husband, Gabriel Sheffield, submitted a letter to Essence explaining why he would like to propose to her, which led to the couple being named one of four finalists. The actual proposal came on December 17, 2009, and was video taped by Essence and posted online. Sheffield’s proposal letter was published in the February edition of the magazine.

“We hope that the glimpse into our proposal can allow the world to, if only for a few moments, feel the power of love,” said Harris.

If the couple wins the “Will You Marry Me?” contest they’ll get the following:

• A wedding consultation with renowned wedding producer and designer Diann Valentine, who will provide the winning couple with key tips on how to make their day extra special and invitations from her new collection, Wedding Paper Divas
• A wedding dress from the David Tutera by Faviana Collection -- a dress designed collaboratively by design house Faviana and celebrity wedding planner and host of WE tv's My Fair Wedding with David Tutera
• An amazing cake courtesy of one of the bakers featured on the WE tv hit show, Amazing Wedding Cakes
• $10,000 in cash for wedding day essentials

“The day a girl gets engaged is one of the most memorable occasions of her lifetime. Gabriel demonstrated his dedication and love for me by taking the time to ensure that the proposal was extraordinary and unique,” said Harris.

You can help the couple win the contest by voting online at:

Voting is now underway and ends on February 12, 2009.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

UIS students build positive relationships while mentoring at Harvard Park Elementary

A group of UIS students pulled out board games of all kinds in the Harvard Park Elementary School gymnasium on Friday morning and quickly paired up with their “Littles” to play.

The group is part of the mentoring program that UIS has in conjunction with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Sangamon County that takes UIS volunteers to several elementary schools in the area once a week to interact with some of the children at the schools.

The program is mutually beneficial for both the elementary-aged students and the UIS students, said Harvard Park Principal Kim Leverette. She said she hopes that the relationships built with college-aged students will inspire the students at Harvard Park to continue their education.

“For many of our students, their background and the homes that they come from, that dream isn’t instilled in them of pursuing higher education,” Leverette said. “So this viewpoint is very instrumental in our kids turning their attitudes around and turning their grades around.”

“It may inspire UIS students to be education majors as well,” she added. “So while it impacts our students, it also greatly impacts students from UIS as well.”

Mark Frakes, a sophomore at UIS, enjoys playing cards games like Uno with his “Little” at Harvard Park.

“He’s pretty good; he beats me a lot,” Frakes smiled.

Frakes has been mentoring for more than a year at Harvard Park through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and has been able to see firsthand how beneficial his involvement is in the life of his Little.

“This gives kids a chance to talk out some of their issues and have a positive older role model because some of these kids don’t have that sort of support system,” he said. “I like coming here to hang out with him. When he has fun, I have fun.”

“I think I’m just as excited to come here and hang out as (my Little),” agreed senior Zach Berillo with a laugh.

UIS freshman April Fountain’s Little doesn’t have a brother or “anyone his age to sit down and play with him,” she said, and he looks forward to the one-on-one time with Fountain.

“He enjoys this every Friday. I think he gets a lot out of it,” she said.

Leverette hopes the program will continue to flourish and even to grow.

“The feedback I receive from the community, from the staff, from the parents is something that we want to build on and nurture, and we want all of those great things to continue,” she said.

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Monday, December 07, 2009

The Journal offers students hands-on experience in journalism

The Journal
, the weekly student newspaper of the University of Illinois Springfield, is giving students “real world” experience covering the news.

The newspaper is published every Wednesday during the fall and spring semester, when classes are in session. Students also produce one summer edition following up on graduation, news and upcoming events. A special magazine edition of The Journal called “Beyond” is published once every fall and spring semester.

“We try to put the news of campus into an easy readable format for students. That’s who our audience is, so that’s who we’re trying to go after when we put out a paper every week,” said Luke Runyon, The Journal editor-in-chief.

The Journal employs a staff of about a dozen students, including two graduate assistants and has grown from an eight-page paper without full color to a paper that is typically 12 full color pages. Students are paid minimum wage to work at the newspaper reporting, serving as editors and photographers and working on layout design.

“We’re hoping to get going with a dot-com or dot-org website, so we can sell online advertising and that would provide multimedia experience,” said Debra Landis, student publications adviser.

Landis helps critique stories, photos and columns in the newspaper, but story selection and editorial decisions are left in the hands of students.

“Only by allowing students to generate their own story ideas, their own editorials, and their own photo selection can it truly be the kind of real life experiences that we want them to have,” said Landis.

Students cover public affairs events like campus senate and Student Government Association (SGA) meetings along with student life activities and events.

“It’s going to be amazing for my future career if I’m going into journalism or some kind of reporting it’s going to be invaluable experience,” said Runyon.

Landis says employers are looking for interns and young professionals who have practical work experience.

“There’s always going to be jobs for journalists. It might vary or evolve, but people are always going to want to know the news,” said Landis.

For more information on how to become involved in The Journal, contact Luke Runyon at or log onto

The Journal is distributed not only on the UIS campus, but at the Springfield Public Library and Illinois State Capitol.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Students analyze first semester with Capital Scholars composition projects

Freshmen in the Capital Scholars Honors Program at UIS had a chance to look back over their first semester at both the good and the bad during a project for Capital Scholars course 111, Honors Composition.

To wrap up the class, the students completed bibliographical projects analyzing themselves and the changes they’ve seen in their personal lives since coming to college at UIS. The dozens of projects were then presented and explained to several different Capital Scholars instructors on Wednesday morning in the lobby of the Public Affairs Center.

“I thought it was a really good project because I got to reminisce back to the beginning of the semester and think back on everything and put it all into art,” said Breanna Ligaya, a freshman in biology.

Amy Spies, coordinator of Composition and Academic Support for the Capital Scholars Honor Program, said the goal of the project was to give students the opportunity to critically analyze their learning experiences for the semester.

“It required them to look at each experience with more than just how they felt at that time, but to look back and recognize what they learned and how that experience contributed to who they have become,” she said. “Some changes are good and some are not so good, which they recognized, and they’ve included the bad as well as the good in their presentations.”

Students created everything from poster boards to sculptures to collages. One student even hung notes and pictures on himself with yarn.

“It was a lot more fun than writing a paper; being able to be creative in a regular writing class was really fun,” said freshman Melissa Frost.

And according to the students, the intent of the project was a success.

“It really helped me see me as a person and how I grew,” Ligaya said.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

2010-2011 Avery Brundage Scholarships available

University of Illinois students who excel in both academics and athletics are encouraged to enter the 37th annual Avery Brundage Scholarship competition.

Scholarship applications can be submitted online at The deadline for submission is February 12, 2010. Paper applications will not be distributed.

Full-time University of Illinois students at the Chicago, Springfield and Urbana campuses, including incoming freshmen, graduate and transfer students, may apply. Grant-in-aid recipients may be eligible for Brundage scholarships, under specific conditions. Academic and athletic competence will be considered over financial need.

Undergraduate and transfer student applications must rank in the top 25 percent of their college, and incoming freshmen must rank in the upper 25 percent of their incoming class. Graduate and professional students must be in good academic standing.

Students also must have demonstrated “special athletic ability” in an amateur sport. However, their participation must have been for personal development, rather than as preparation for professional athletics. Previous Brundage scholarship winners have represented a wide variety of sports from archery and tennis to swimming and wheelchair basketball. Last year, 15 winners were awarded $2,400 each.

The late Avery Brundage, a 1909 U of I graduate, competed in the 1912 Olympics and later was president of the U.S. and International Olympic committees. He established the scholarship in 1974, with a $343,000 endowment to the University of Illinois Foundation. Over the past 36 years, 794 scholarships with a total value of $983,200 have been awarded. Brundage maintained his interest in the University through service as a member of the University of Illinois Foundation, President's Council and Citizen's Committee.

For more information contact Gayle L. Layman, Director University-wide Student Programs at 217-333-2030.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

UIS team places in Cisco NetRiders competition

University of Illinois Springfield students Steve Fischer and Ryan Stalets competed in the 2009 Cisco NetRiders Skills Challenge in Chicago, Illinois on Wednesday, November 4, 2009. They advanced from the Statewide Qualifier placing first in the top 10 highest-scoring teams from across the state of Illinois.

Fischer and Stalets were invited to the Stage Two Competition at the Cisco Systems office where they placed third. Ken Gaines, Cisco Area Vice President, presented the awards as well as an invitation for both Fischer and Stalets to spend a day with a Cisco Systems Engineer.

The Stage Two competition held at Cisco included a theoretical session, answering 100 questions in 60 minutes, followed by a hands-on session, troubleshooting a five router network scenario.

Fischer is a senior from Springfield, Illinois majoring in Computer Science at UIS and is completing an Internship at Archer Daniels Midland. Team Captain Ryan Stalets from Riverton, Illinois is currently a UIS freshman majoring in Computer Science and is employed by the Ball-Chatham School District.

“This is an exciting opportunity to visit a leading-edge global industry leader with state-of-the-art technology, meet with IT professionals, and compete with peers in an interactive environment,” said Janis Rose, instructor of Computer Science at UIS.

Cisco is playing a critical role in the US economic recovery by preparing students for the sustainable jobs that government, education and industry all agree will fuel America’s ability to innovate and compete, not just today, but in the future. As the focus turns to infrastructure, Cisco’s Networking Academy provides students with critical networking skills to design, build and maintain the infrastructure highway that both the public and private sector now depend on for sustainability.

For more information about the awards contact Janis Rose, instructor of Computer Science at or 217/206-8246.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

UIS Outstanding Master's Thesis Award

The University of Illinois Springfield Research Board has awarded Communication master’s student Kelsi Megan Kerns with the UIS Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award for the 2008-2009 academic year. Kerns wrote her thesis on the topic of Does Hannah Montana Really Do Homework? A Content Analysis on the Portrayal of School in the Popular Disney Channel Series.

Eight graduate programs nominated finalists for the award. Each of the submitted thesis/projects have, thus, already received departmental recognition for excellence and will be publicly honored at a reception on January 25, 2010.

The Research Board was impressed with the high quality of all these scholarly works. Determining which among them should be singled out for special recognition was a challenging task.

Outstanding Master’s Thesis/Projects: 2008-2009

The thesis/projects of the following students received their departments’ Outstanding Thesis or Project Awards for 2008-2009.

Communication - UIS Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award for 2008-2009
Kelsi Megan Kerns
Committee Chair: Kathy Jamison
Does Hannah Montana Really Do Homework? A Content Analysis on the Portrayal of School in the Popular Disney Channel Series

Jaclyn Michelle Negor
Committee Chair: Michael Lemke
Review of Secondary Production Concepts and Benthic Macroinvertebrate Production Estimates from Two Illinois River, IL Wetlands

Nicole Louis
Committee Chair: Deborah McGregor
The Healthiest City in the World: Chicago and the Spanish Influenza Epidemic of 1918

Erin Tepen
Committee Chair: Sara Cordell
Beyond the Masquerade: The Hysteric's Discourse in Edith Wharton's House of Mirth and the Age of Innocence

Environmental Studies
Abby Hahne
Committee Chair: Tih-Fen Ting
Communicating Risk through Use of an Interactive Mapping Application: Designing and Publishing Illinois Superfund Risk Information for the Federal Site Remediation Section of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency

Human Services
Kristen Bein
Committee Chair: Denise Sommers
Harnessing Our Collective Power: Research on the Creation of a Feminist Management Model

Liberal and Integrative Stuides
Michael J. Kim
Committee Chair: Karen Kirkendall
Skills Coaches as Part of the Educational Team: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Teaching of a Basic Surgical Skill in the Laboratory Setting

Management Information Systems
Isaac Lee Abbs
Committee Chair: Yifeng Zhang
A Web-Enabled Data Mart for the City of Tucson Election Data

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Priyanka Deo honored with Student Laureate Award

University of Illinois Springfield senior Priyanka Deo will be honored with the Student Laureate Award during a ceremony at the Old State Capitol in Springfield on November 7, 2009. Deo is the only recipient chosen to speak at the ceremony out of a group of more than 50 students.

Each year an outstanding senior from each of the four-year degree-granting institutions of higher learning in Illinois is awarded the Student Lincoln Academy Medallion and thereby becomes a Student Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Student Laureates are honored for their overall excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities.

“Coming from India, it is personally a great honor for me to be recognized as an Illinoisan for my academic and extracurricular career. Winning this award makes me more determined to do great things and contribute to the betterment of our world in the future,” said Deo.

Deo is now a U.S. citizen and preparing for a career in law. Since her freshman year, Priyanka has held an internship with the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project. She has been involved in several extra-curricular activities, including forensics team and women’s varsity tennis team. Ms. Deo serves as a peer tutor and mentor for UIS’ Capital Scholars Honor Program, and as the Chairperson of the Housing Residence Council. She recently chaired National Model United Nations and won best delegate out of 400 students from competing universities. That honor presented her an invitation to the Global United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland this past summer.

Priyanka has been recognized in front page articles by the Chicago Tribune and State Journal-Register for her work with the Innocence Project, and has won a national tournament in parliamentary debate. She is trained in classical Indian dancing and does choreographing for various international festivals and off-campus shows in the Springfield area.

Priyanka is majoring in Political Science in the College of Public Affairs and Administration and Anthropology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. With all of her interests and activities, Priyanka has still maintained a 3.98 GPA at UIS, and is currently a resident assistant on campus. She plans to pursue a JD/PhD in international criminal law.

In addition to receiving the Student Laureate Medallion Priyanka will also receive a certificate of achievement and a check for $150 to cover travel and other expenses.

For more information contact Blake Wood, UIS Public Relations at 217/206-6716 or

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Students hold Halloween makeup workshop

The “Off University Drive Players”, a new student organization on the UIS campus recently held a Halloween makeup workshop to share theatre tricks.

“The goal for the Halloween workshop is to create a good cute monster so people can learn how to do this on their own” said member “Lucy Black”.

Black says it’s best to practice what you’re going to do in advance, so you know how long it will take and what techniques to use. It’s also important to make sure you buy the right type of makeup. Theatre and Halloween makeup usually require several layers that you don’t use day to day.

The club was formed to educated students on campus about theatre. They take trips to different plays and hold workshops like this one.

“Our goal is to further the entire theatre experience for any and all UIS students,” said Black.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

UIS Student honored with Undergraduate Teaching Fellowship award

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) has selected Christopher Crockett from the University of Illinois Springfield as a 2009 award recipient of the ASM Undergraduate Teaching Fellowship (ASM-UTF).

This fellowship is aimed at highly motivated and competitive students who are interested in a career as an elementary or secondary school science teacher. Students will have the opportunity to develop a project to provide instruction in a scientific discipline in a local school or community setting in partnership with a mentor at their home institution and a teacher or site coordinator from the host site.

Each fellow receives up to a $2,000 stipend, a two-year ASM student membership, and travel support to the ASM Conference for Undergraduate Educators (ASMCUE). Awardees are also encouraged to submit abstracts and applications to attend the 2009 ASMCUE.

This year, nine applications were received and four were awarded. Of the four awardees, three students were from masters’ and doctoral institutions and one student was from a liberal arts institution.

Michael Lemke from the University of Illinois-Springfield is Christopher Crockett’s faculty mentor, while Mary Dawson from Taylorville High School is the K-12 site mentor. The title of the project is: Microbes: Improving the Environment.

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM), headquartered in Washington, D.C., is the oldest and largest single biological membership organization, with over 40,000 members worldwide. Please visit for more information on this fellowship or contact Michael Lemke at 217/206-7339 or

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Student Volunteers Create 9/11 Video

Students from the University of Illinois Springfield’s Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center have put together a video in remembrance of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Student and staff volunteers traveled around the UIS campus asking students what impact 9/11 had on them, where they were when the attacks happened and if they think it united the country.

“It’s probably the defining event in young people’s lives on campus since they’ve been alive it’s been the one event that has impacted the entire world,” said Jordan Jeffers, Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center Americorps VISTA.

The project is being done as part of the first ever 9/11 National Day of Service, which will be the culmination of President Obama’s Summer of Service.

Jeffers hopes the video interviews will spark discussion about the importance of the events and inspire people to work towards civic engagement.

The video will air on the campus cable channel at various times through Sunday.

Watch the full video of what the volunteers created below:

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Monday, August 31, 2009

Diversity Center helps campus celebrate differences

By Courtney Westlake

Snacks, comfortable couches, a big-screen television and a caring staff draw students into the Diversity Center – Student Life Building 22 – whether it be for studying, watching a popular TV show with friends or discussing the need for a particular service with a staff member.

“The Diversity Center is a space where students can come and be whoever it is they want to be,” said Herb Caldwell, admission and community partner counselor for the center. “But more importantly, we are made up of staff who are really student-oriented, who are really going to help the students get connected with other resources. That is really the strength of the Diversity Center - helping all students from all backgrounds and all cultures.”

The Diversity Center was created a year ago at UIS to develop the understanding of differences through educational, cultural and social activities. The opening of the center kicked off with an open house during Welcome Week 2008.

The Diversity Center fulfills a great need to the UIS campus, Caldwell said, helping students, staff and faculty to celebrate the differences between people.

“It's a diverse world; we come from so many different backgrounds - geographic, ethnicities, religious, cultural, how we identify sexually,” he said. “A lot of times, misunderstandings come from ignorance. So what the Diversity Center is really trying to do is bring all these different things together so we can celebrate these things that make us different.”

“You may not agree with everything, but you want to have understanding so there can be acceptance,” Caldwell added. “That is key, to not just have tolerance but acceptance.”

Many changes and progress have been made since the opening of the Center, Caldwell said, including the extension of the center’s hours, especially in the evenings and weekends.

“Being student-friendly, you have to be up and at 'em when the students are,” he said. “We try to really keep an open door policy in practical sort of way. Students rise late and are up late, so we try to be accessible to them.”

The Diversity Center is made up of staff members Caldwell, Jeannie Capranica, who is the program manager, Yolanda Beamon, the center's graduate assistant, and Dr. Clarice Ford, who is the associate dean of student support services and director of the Center. Under the Center also falls the Women’s Center – directed by Lynn Otterson –the LGBTQ Resource Office, and the Center for First-Year Students, Caldwell said.

“We make sure we have dialogue and co-exist peacefully in terms of unity as a campus,” Caldwell said.

The Diversity Center is offering several new programs this year, including the Necessary Steps mentoring program that connects first-year students with older students and the Host Family Program, which enables local alumni and community members to serve as models of success to students.

“Jeannie also runs the Cultural Dine-Out program, which is a wonderful program where students can meet and go feast out in the community at different ethnic restaurants,” Caldwell added. “It provides dialogue and an opportunity to learn and experience different cultures.”

Students are first priority at the Diversity Center, and the Center not only works with other offices in Students Affairs, but also on the academic and social sides as well, Caldwell said.

“We want to really meet students' needs on every level, always helping with the students,” he said. “And we do provide a lot of emergency assistance - students without books, a student living in the townhouses without food, or any services within the community- but there doesn't need to be any great need to come in and hang out.”

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

UIS graduate receives award from Illinois Broadcasters Assocation

Greg Bishop, 2009 graduate of UIS with a degree in Communication, was recently awarded an Illinois Broadcasters Association Silver Dome Award in the category of Medium Market Radio for Best Use of New Media. Bishop is a producer, director and editor at WMAY-AM Radio.

The award ceremony, which was sponsored by the Illinois National Guard, was held on July 17 in Peoria. Bishop was one of several members of the WMAY staff who received awards.

Bishop’s award was given for a video he compiled of WMAY’s “Rally for Common Sense,” which was broadcast on the radio station in May 2008. The video was shot at the State Capitol Building during a rally held to encourage the governor and General Assembly to act on several ongoing issues at the time.

“I believe that the video I submitted was chosen because of the content and its relevance,” Bishop noted. “It captured the flavor of the audience and the message from the event, all while being upbeat and current. I was truly honored and pleased with the award.”

There are several different categories in the Silver Dome Awards in both large and medium markets, including best humorous and non-humorous commercials, best talk-show host, best station Web site, best reporter and more.

WMAY is owned by Mid-West Family Broadcasting, which also owns and operates three additional stations including 92.7 FM WQLZ, Alice at 97.7 FM, and Light Rock 98.7 FM WNNS.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Commencement Moments 2009

UIS' 38th Commencement Ceremony was filled with emotional and celebratory moments as hundreds of students received their diplomas on Saturday, May 16, 2009.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

UIS Forensics participates in Readers Theatre Tournament

At the beginning of May, UIS Forensics participated in the American Readers Theatre Association National Championship Tournament at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California.

Hilary Holmes, Niesa Patton and Samarth Rajendra performed an original Readers Theatre titled "Dream On," documenting the development of the American Dream throughout the country’s history. The UIS theatre was one of a few "world premieres," designating a theatre that had not been performed in competition prior to this event.

The performance was well-received and named a nominee for a special jury award recognizing achievement in script writing.

For information concerning UIS Forensics, contact Thomas Bartl, Director of Forensics, at

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Friday, May 01, 2009

Students receive honors at Model United Nations conference

A class of 12 students from UIS attended the annual National Model United Nations conference, held April 7 through April 11 in New York City, and was honored with the Distinguished Delegation Award for their efforts at the conference.

Model United Nations is a conference that simulates an actual United Nations meeting. More than 300 groups of students from schools internationally attended the conference, each representing a specific country. The group from UIS was chosen to represent Croatia.

This is the first year that a course was designed specifically to learn about and attend the conference, said Adriana Crocker, professor of political science and teacher of the class. In past years, a group of students from the UIS Model United Nations Club attended the conference.

“I felt like the students were much better prepared,” Crocker said. “In class, we discussed Croatia, its history, culture, relations with other neighboring countries, and we also studied how the UN works.”

Each of the students served on various committees during the conference. Students defended the committee they wanted to serve on in class and were placed on those committees by their arguments and interests. Some students served in groups of two on larger committees, while other students represented Croatia by themselves on smaller committees.

“One of the most interesting challenges, I thought, was that you have to throw your own personal ideas aside and have to portray and represent Croatia, even if it’s not what you believe personally is best,” said Dustin Morrison, who represented Croatia on the World Trade Organization committee along with classmate Marko Markovic.

In addition to the group’s Distinguished Delegation honor, several UIS students also received individual awards at the conference. Kelsey Quinn received the Best Delegate Award from among more than 400 delegates. Priyanka Deo was honored with the Best Chair Award for her role in serving as chairman of the General Assembly. Deo served as chair for more than 450 delegates.

“I really got to know the rules and procedures,” she said. “I was aware of Croatia’s viewpoints because we had studied them in class and discussed them before the conference, but it was interesting to see all of the other countries’ viewpoints on issues. It was a really fun experience.”

Both Deo and Quinn have been invited to attend a conference in Switzerland this summer based on their exemplary efforts at Model United Nations.

“I have to congratulate our students; it was quite an accomplishment to receive those awards and honors,” Crocker said. “It was a great experience for our students. They got to learn about foreign policy and diplomacy and also got to hear from and learn about different students from across the world.”

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Monday, April 06, 2009

Student named finalist in photography competition

By Courtney Westlake

When UIS student Andy Mitkos decided to enter an international student photography competition, he opted at the last minute to "thrown in" a few more photos than he had chosen originally to "round out" his entry, he said.

It was one of the last-minute photos that impressed the judges.

Mitkos was selected as a finalist in the 29th Annual Student Photography Contest sponsored by Nikon and Photographer’s Forum Magazine. His photo, titled “Any Landing You Can Walk Away From...,” will be published in the Best of College Photography Annual 2009.

The winning photograph captures a scene of a plane underwater that Mitkos took while he was scuba diving off the coast of Aruba. He used an underwater housing for camera, which weighs about 50 pounds including the camera.

“I’ve always loved photography, and I had the fortune of being able to get really good camera few years back,” he said. “I like to use photography in everything I do.”

Mitkos is currently earning his degree in mass communications and has taken two photography courses with Professor Michael Duvall. He also works fulltime at Lincoln Land Community College as a blackboard system administrator.

He said he is thrilled to be among the finalists in the competition.

“Professor Duvall suggested it to me, and I entered it not expecting anything to happen,” he said. “I got collection of what I thought were my best pictures and just hoped to get some kind of recognition.”

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Undergraduate students presented research at AAAS meeting

UIS undergraduates presented their research at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago last month.

Kimberly Bartosiak and Adam Waters presented "Bacterial Diversity and Water Quality in Connected and Unconnected Lakes of the Illinois River Floodplain System," while Bronson McLeod and Lindsay Zscheck presented "Antimicrobial & Antioxidant Properties of Oak and Walnut Leaves."

The papers were co-authored by biology and chemistry faculty Keenan Dungey, Wayne Gade, Michael Lemke, Amy McEuen, Gary Trammell, Lucia Vazquez and Jim Veselenak. The research was part of UIS’ Merck/AAAS Undergraduate Science Research Program.

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Monday, March 09, 2009

UIS students utilize spring break to help hurricane victims

The University of Illinois at Springfield’s Alternative Spring Break student organization will be taking a trip to Mandeville, Louisiana during the 2009 UIS spring break to assist victims affected by Hurricane Katrina.

For seven days and six nights, from March 15 to March 21, 24 UIS students will be residing at Camp Living Waters in Mandeville, Louisiana. The purpose of the trip is to rebuild and eliminate poverty housing by physically lifting materials and building homes in the Southeast Louisiana area.

“By planning this trip, we will be able to educate UIS students in disaster preparedness on a national level,” said Kelly Thompson, director of UIS’ Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center. “The students are excited to spend their spring break serving others.”

The UIS Alternative Spring Break student organization was formed during the current academic school year, and this is the first official spring break service trip being offered by the group.

The trip is coordinated through the Collegiate Challenge program within Habitat for Humanity. The Collegiate Challenge has provided volunteer trips for youth ages 16 to 25 across the nation for 20 years and has grown to include more than 15,000 volunteers each year.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Student determined to receive degree and serve as role model

By Courtney Westlake

Ricardo Montoya Picazo is no stranger to hard work and commitment - characteristics that have taken him far in life after his family moved from Mexico to the United States. Now Montoya Picazo, a senior at UIS, is using those characteristics of determination and leadership to carry him through college and onto a political career that will be shaped by his background and experience.

After moving from Mexico, Montoya Picazo’s family first lived in California and then in Iowa for a year before settling in Beardstown, where his uncle lived. He transferred to UIS in his junior year after attending Lincoln Land Community College.

Montoya Picazo was motivated to come to UIS by a professor who told him what a great political science program UIS offered and about the many opportunities available because of UIS’s location in the state capital. Montoya Picazo first became interested in political science after he was involved in a political rally at age 15.

“As I grew older, I learned more about public and social issues, and I liked it more,” he said. “I wanted to work with the public and get involved in social change. There needs to be more Hispanics in the public field.”

Latinos and Latinas make up one of the biggest minorities in the United States.

“Sometimes issues in the political field are biased if you see them from a Hispanic perspective,” he said. “Sometimes people don’t see how a law would affect our customs, and they’re not familiar with how we think.”

Montoya Picazo has always had an interest in serving the public and his community. For several years, he has been a mentor and teacher for Project Next Generation, which encourages and enables children in the Beardstown community to pursue and complete degrees in higher education.

“We want to make the parents aware that their kids can seek higher education; they don’t have to just graduate high school and go into the labor force,” he said. “Many of my kids in junior high and high school think that way.”

The Project also helps children learn about technology and computers, Montoya Picazo said.

“There is a program based on teaching digital and computer technology and software, and we want to make kids aware of technology and take them out of the streets,” he said. “Today’s kids like to burn music, create videos and create their own projects. We also take yearly trips to major cities. It is interesting.”

Being a Latino in politics will not only open doors for other Latinos in the country but also encourage them to become involved, Montoya Picazo believes.

“If somebody is Hispanic, other Hispanics tend to want to participate in events,” he said. “Changes in Beardstown have improved; they are a much more accepting town, and the town is really trying to involve Hispanics in the school and community.”

Montoya Picazo sees himself in public office in the long-term future and would like to work for governmental agencies before running, such as the department of immigration or homeland security.

When Montoya Picazo came to the United States at age nine, he assumed it was a Spanish-speaking country because his father still spoke Spanish to them over the phone while they were in Mexico. Unfortunately, there wasn’t an ESL (English as a second language) program at his school, and he “felt lost” at the culture shock, he said.

“I didn’t want to go to school; I wanted to stay home,” he said.

In 5th grade, however, an ESL program was implemented, and he began to learn reading and writing. In 7th grade, he made the choice to not be a part of ESL anymore.

“There was no way for me to learn it well,” he said. “They offered to have me come back if I had trouble, but I didn’t. It forced me to speak English, and that’s why I’m better at English now.”

Montoya Picazo said while he still embraces his native culture, he is grateful for the opportunities in the United States, especially being able to pursue higher education.

“I love my culture, but I have grown into American culture too; I like American food and music,” he said. “And I know if I was over there still, I wouldn’t be at UIS. I would have only gotten through grade school. So I owe that to my father; I’m thankful to him.”

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Office of International Student Services brings students together

By Courtney Westlake

At this year’s International Festival, Rick Lane noticed that during downtime, members of the Students of African Descent group and the Indian group began to dance together and enjoy each other’s cultures.

That is exactly the environment Lane is working to create, with help from many others on campus, as the director of the Office of International Student Services at UIS.

Organizing the International Festival, held annually, is just one of the responsibilities of the office. Its primary duty is to assist international students with immigration issues, whether they are arriving as new students or maintaining their legal status, and the benefits of that status, in the United States, Lane said.

“We also do programming with the students and for the students, like the International Festival,” he said. “We assist them with tax workshops and cultural adaptation. I am also one of two advisers (along with Dana Atwell) for the International Student Association, so we do welcome parties and other activities to help them interact with each other and get to know the campus and Springfield.”

The Office of International Student Services works closely with numerous other offices on campus, including the Diversity Center, Housing, Student Life and the Admissions office. In fact, a new counselor recently started in the admissions office who is dedicated solely to international students.

“We know how important it is for international students to get a quick response when they’re trying to figure things out from many miles and many hours away,” Lane said. “We wanted someone who could understand their unique needs and questions and respond promptly to those, and dedicate himself to that.”

The Office of International Student Services is located in the Human Resources Building, in the same space as the Office of International Programs led by Jonathan GoldbergBelle. The student services office also includes office manager Sherri Boner, graduate assistant Jolene Vollmer and student worker Reid Johnson. A future goal for both offices is to rename the space the “International Center” to bring all programs together.

The international studentson the UIS campus, including U.S. lawful permanent residents and all non-immigrant visa categories, number around 500, Lane said, which is close to 10 percent of the campus population. The majority come to study at UIS from India, most of those in computer science. The office and the international recruiting task force, which is chaired by Lane, have plans to expand recruiting efforts to parts of Asia, as well as recruit students in a variety of majors and programs.

“We have many students from India, Korea, Japan, China, but we also have students from western Europe, Africa and the Americas – North, Central and South,” Lane said. “We are now going to be concentrating on Asia; that area of the world is sending the most students to the United States, and we would like to grow our international population very quickly. While we certainly want to continue welcoming students from India in computer science, we have a goal of diversifying to other parts of the world as well as what majors they are pursuing outside of computer science.”

While it’s the law to have such a department on campus to provide services regarding forms and legal status, Lane believes the office provides much more than that to the international students who come to UIS.

“I believe that interaction between international students and American students is crucial not only for education of those international students but for - dare I say it? - world peace,” he said. “I don't think there is anything that does as much to help foster good understanding of who were are as Americans, and understanding of the rest of the world, as having international students and American students interacting. They couldn't do that if we weren't here to help that happen; they need someone to be their advocate, their liaison.”

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Computer Science grad student wins 2nd in international contest

By Courtney Westlake

Tejesh Morla
, a graduate student in Computer Science, recently won second place in the General Students category of the MySQL and GlassFish Contest sponsored by SUN MicroSystems. The contest challenged participants to create a web application using MySQL and Glassfish along with Java, Morla said.

"It's a global contest; anyone can participate," he said. "I found out about it because of an email sent by Dr. Ted Mims (computer science department chair)."

Morla's winning project was a basic web application that responds to customers' needs to register on a site to place and view orders, as well as administrators' needs to view and list all registered customers. He then created an in-depth blog entry that detailed the steps he took to develop his application and how he used MySQL and GlassFish in the process.

Morla says the project took a lot of time and research.

"It was a tough task," he said. "At one point, I thought I would never make it. I had problem where mySQL stuff was not syncing with the Java."

The contest began on September 2, and October 22 was the deadline to submit a project, Morla said. He found out he won 2nd place while he was on Thanksgiving break vacationing in Las Vegas.

"One of my friends always says there should be something in your resume which would tell the difference from others, so I thought I should participate in that to get some experience," he said. "I am very excited and can't believe that I happened to win."

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Wing in LRH promotes leadership and service

By Courtney Westlake

Even before school started, students in the Leadership for Life Service Wing in Lincoln Residence Hall were lending a hand, volunteering for the local Special Olympics.

“Everyone is just genuinely interested in doing volunteer work,” said Charles Olivier, a sophomore who is the resident assistant for the wing.

The Leadership for Life Service Wing is the only living-learning community in LRH and provides residence to 28 first-year and sophomore students. The wing has a new focus this year on both leadership and service, said Kelly Thompson, director of the Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center at UIS.

“They really go hand in hand,” Thompson said. “We’re trying to work with first-year students to help build their service and their leadership skills. We want our first-year students to feel comfortable and at home at UIS, and we want them to know that we're here to help them, as well as engage them with the campus and the community.”

Students living in the Leadership for Life Wing have service requirements that they need to complete, as well as several service programs to attend each semester, Thompson said. One of their first activities was a leadership retreat at Camp Cilca, which Thompson described as “very enlightening.”

Besides volunteering at the Special Olympics before classes started, the residents of the wing were also able to work together in service when Senator Barack Obama was in town to introduce his running mate.

“It really tested our bonds with each other; we were out there for seven hours in the heat, but it was a good experience,” Olivier said. “We also all came together in the first weeks and had a party for some of the residents who had a birthday after they moved in.”

To join the Leadership for Life wing in LRH, students fill out an application, explaining why they have an interest in service and what volunteer opportunities they have been involved in.

“The students all have a passion for volunteering and all have backgrounds in service and volunteerism - mission trips to other countries, activities in their communities, awards they've been given,” Thompson said. “They have a wide variety of interests they would like to explore, such as working with animals, children, the homeless and different special needs populations. Our job is to be that link and help them explore those options and feel that connection to the university as well as the community at large.”

Olivier lived in the service leadership wing last year and said he feels it is a very positive environment and brings students together with a common interest.

“You know that other people are involved in something you like doing,” he said. “We promote development of leadership through building connections with community organizations or having volunteer services on campus.”

Olivier has high hopes for his first year as a resident assistant and believes his residents will have a big impact on the campus.

“It's exciting; we have fun,” he said. “I believe volunteering is not a one-way street. Everyone who volunteers gets something back, even if it’s not money. You gain a sense of humility and gratitude. I think it's important and an important part of leadership.”

Research has shown a relationship between civic engagement and how well students do in school, and Thompson hopes to foster a sense of the importance of service and leadership in the residents of the Leadership for Life wing and all students at UIS.

“We want our students to be better informed about their own leadership skills and better informed about service opportunities, and what it means to them to be involved in service, how that might affect their major and even their course for what they do in their life after they leave UIS,” she said.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Welcome Week 2008

UIS celebrated Welcome Week 2008 in August to greet new and returning students to campus. Welcome Week activities included an open house at the Diversity Center, the Chancellor's Picnic, the Involvement Expo on the Quad, the Foot in the Door Job Fair, a trip to Knight's Action Park and much more.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Current UIS students give advice to first-timers

Current students at UIS weigh in on the university and what it is like to arrive as a freshmen, and give veteran advice about getting involved on campus.

Shana Stine, senior: The cool thing about UIS, and really any college campus, is however active you want to be, you can be. It's all up to the student how much they want to do. There are tons of things to do: Sangamon Auditorium has Broadway shows, Student Life is always offering crazy things, you can go in to downtown Springfield, or just go to a movie and hang out. Living in the dorms gives you a great chance to meet everyone, and you can do a lot of group study or just a lot of group fun. And don't be scared of the laundry machines; laundry is not that bad.

Derek Rhoads, sophomore: It is so easy to get involved at UIS; there are so many things to do. Get out of your safety bubble. We all have this place we feel comfortable in, and the worst thing you can do is stay there. The best thing you can do is just get out and meet new people, and not let the nervousness of somebody different keep you from interacting with them because you're going to learn a lot of new things. We get to experience diversity instead of just talk about it, and I promise you your life will be changed because of the other lifestyles you run into.

Priyanka Deo, junior: I would say to bring a lot more stuff than you think you'll be able to for your dorm room because it's a lot bigger than you think here, which is nice. And don't be nervous about coming here at all because it's one of the best experiences you'll ever have. The small campus is really beneficial because you can get so involved in so many things, and there are a lot of leadership positions available.

Jordan Haley, senior: As far as UIS goes, my favorite thing is the community. It's big enough that you always have the opportunity to meet new people, make new friends and make connections around campus, but it's small enough that you can get to know friends really well and your professors really well. As a freshmen, you'll get a ton of emails about events going on around campus - go to those events, show up at stuff and you won't have a problem getting involved.

Freshmen coming in need to remember that they're here for school and because they need to build skill in a certain area so that they can graduate and get a job; I think you realize that as a senior and not as a freshman. The other thing they need to remember is that you're only going to have the opportunity to be an undergraduate once and live in a residence hall once, so you need to make the most of it and embrace the whole experience.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Student named finalist in photography contest

By Courtney Westlake

When Sue Huskins was involved in an accident at work that left her without the use of her right hand in 1999, she was forced to quit her job at a print shop. She took that opportunity to go to college, first receiving her associates degree from Richland Community College in Decatur and now working toward her bachelors at UIS.

"That's where I found photography, and I love it; it's my passion," she said.

At UIS, Huskins is majoring in visual arts with a focus on photography, which she studies under professor of communication Michael Duvall. It was after one of Duvall's classes that Huskins noticed a brochure for the 28th Annual Student Photography Contest.

And from among the more than 4,000 students who entered this year's contest, Huskins was selected as a finalist in the competition, and her photo titled "Repetition in Glass" will be published in the "Best of College Photography Annual 2008."

"I just happened to find the flyer for the competition in Professor Duvall's lab and just thought I'd try; it doesn't hurt to try," she said. "I was very surprised. I was hoping to be at least maybe recognized a little bit, but I never dreamed I'd make it in the top five percent."

Huskins captured her "Repetition in Glass" photograph while on a trip to Chicago.

"My friend and I went on bus trip to Chicago, but instead of going to the art museum we were supposed to go to, we spent the whole day downtown looking for shots that we liked. We drug each other all around the town," she said. "I like reflections, I like using the camera to get odd angles. And I like to get every day items that people see but pass by and don't really recognize."

Because her accident left her without the use of her dominant hand, Huskins must hold her camera differently than most people to capture her images.

"Since the shutter release button is located on the right side of the camera, I cannot use it in the normal position. When using a camera, I turn it upside down, resting it on the top of my bad hand," Huskins said. "Doing it this way, it leaves my left hand free to manually focus and set the shutter speed and the aperture. It also puts the shutter release button on the left side on the bottom where it is easily accessible with my left thumb."

Huskins said she decided to come to UIS because of its close proximity to Decatur and due to all of the positive things she had heard about and read about UIS. Eventually, she said, she'd like to continue her education and pursue a master's degree.

"I'd like to do freelance photography but also maybe teach photography in a community college setting," she said.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

UIS graduates nearly 1,300

Nearly 1,300 students received degrees at UIS' 37th commencement ceremony on May 10.

See a printable list of graduates' names and degrees


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Monday, May 12, 2008

Mexico Diez shares knowledge gained on trip

By Courtney Westlake

As the world becomes increasingly globalized, it is becoming more and more important to pay attention to the repercussions of the economic policies that guide Western society today, a group of UIS students has found.

The Mexico Diez, a group of 10 students and two faculty members, left for Mexico the week before spring break in March and spent about 10 days in San Cristobal and Chiapas, as well as some southern, rural areas, after first undergoing training with Witness for Peace, said Julian Borjas, a junior who participated in the trip.

The group, part of the political studies class called Mexico & Globalization taught by Dr. Heather Dell and Veronica Espina, was studying how workers are actually affected by different trade agreements and economic policies put forth by the United States.

“We were looking at economic effects from neo-liberal trade policies, which are the official economic foreign policies that that U.S. backs through trade organizations and through trade agreements like NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement) and CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement) that kind of privatize government lands and publicly-owned lands so that corporations can use the resources,” Borjas said.

The students met with families, grassroots activists, scholars, labor organizers, and other experts in everyday life to learn about their experiences and perspectives regarding these policies and also stayed with three Mexican families during part of their time there.

“We talked with them about what their lives are like and what their concerns are,” said Bob Skorczewski, one of the ten students on the trip. “I had a little background in some of these political and economic issues from my time here at UIS, but the actual real world application of these policies and how they affect people is something you don't really get in a classroom environment.”

“Actually going there and communicating with the people in Mexico was very eye-opening, and you can see how these things affect them and their families,” he continued. “There are just so many things happening there that we weren't ever wanting for something to do and to learn.”

Borjas said the trip reinforced many of the ideas he had before taking the class.

“There is a lot of militarization; there are military installments in every town,” he said. “The people that are known to protest the government, the Zapatistas, are really feeling a lot of pressure. A lot of the towns are being persuaded to become more favorable to the government.”

As part of the experience, members of the Mexico Diez began speaking to groups around campus and the community upon returning from Mexico, sharing what they studied and what they learned while on their trip.

The students first talked to a couple of UIS classes, Skorczewski said, and then took on some speaking engagements at high schools in the area as well as community groups that helped to sponsor their trip.

Skorczewski encouraged other UIS students to sign up for the Mexico & Globalization class next spring for the chance to study this area, learn about globalization and make the trip to Mexico.

“Some of the experiences we had were very intense, but in a good way, in an eye-opening way,” he said. “I’m looking for ways now to get involved around here, or whatever community I end up living in, with the labor movement, or if it's in politics, keeping that in mind as we form public policy. There’s a hidden side to all these issues we see, and a lot of time we're concerned only with how it affects us and not other people.”

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