Hundreds of UIS students celebrate during 42nd Commencement
The University of Illinois Springfield held its 42nd Commencement ceremony on May 11, 2013 at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in downtown Springfield. For many students the day marked an important milestone, as years of hard work, culminated in a single event.
UIS Chancellor Susan J. Koch presided over the ceremony, welcoming the crowd of nearly 6,800 people. A total of 777 students took part in the ceremony, walking across the stage and shaking Koch’s hand.
“The promise that we make to our students can be summed up in two words: Leadership lived. Leadership is lived on the UIS campus every day and I trust that each of you has your own Leadership lived story as a result of your UIS education. I am supremely confident that you will indeed make a difference in the world with your leadership,” said Koch.
Koch also congratulated first generation college graduates, thanked family members for supporting their students, and thanked members of the military.
Chancellor Koch was joined on the stage by campus leaders and University of Illinois President Robert A. Easter who reminded the students earning a degree is only the beginning.
“Today caps a critical chapter in your lives, achieved through your commitment, your scholarship, your passion and your hard work, but what you have learned here is just the foundation and today is just the start,” said Easter.
The 2013 Commencement address was delivered by UIS alumna and Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Kathy Best. A graduate of the UIS Public Affairs Reporting Program, Best first developed her journalistic skills in the Midwest: for the Quad-City Times and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and her career has taken her from coast to coast, from the Baltimore Sun to the Seattle Times. It was in Seattle where she won two Pulitzer Prizes, for breaking news in 2010 and investigative reporting in 2012. In 2006 she was in the first group of PAR alums to be inducted into the Public Affairs Reporting Hall of Fame.
Best spoke to the students about the changing world and the different career paths she has taken encouraged them to “find your passion and live it.”
“Remember this what you’re getting today is a college degree, not a life sentence to do only what that diploma says. This should be the beginning of your quest, not the end,” said Best.
Jinger Sanders, the student speaker who earned a bachelor’s degree in biology, shared her story of coming to UIS as a 17-year-old freshman with the audience. She called UIS “a unique place, a place like no other”, telling the audience about the abundance of opportunities available.
“Attending UIS has been one of my greatest opportunities,” said Sanders. “UIS allowed me to enhance my confidence, leadership, and character. This institution has been more than a stepping stone into the next chapter of my life but a place for personal and academic growth.”
Sanders spoke about her experience as the student representative to the University of Illinois Alumni Association and encouraged graduates to give back to their university.
“I’m talking about something more precious than money and that’s time,” said Sanders. “Time is valuable because you cannot get it back. Invest time into our university just like this university invested in us.”
University of Illinois Trustee Karen Hasara, UIS Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Lynne Pardie, UIS Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Tim Barnett, and UIS distinguished alumni member Donovan Pepper also took part in the ceremony.
UIS online graduates meet face-to-face to celebrate achievements
Over 200 people attended the University of Illinois Springfield’s pre-graduation brunch and celebration for online students on May 11, 2013. The event brings online students from around the country to campus, often for the first time.
A total of 53 online students from 15 states attended the annual event in the Sangamon Auditorium lobby. Students traveled from Alabama, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
The celebration recognized graduates and their families, online coordinators, and program faculty before Commencement at the Prairie Capital Convention Center.
UIS has been recognized as a national leader in online education, having received multiple awards for online excellence and achievement. In spring 2013, a total of 1,494 students were enrolled exclusively online at UIS from 47 states. About 60% of all UIS students take at least one class online.
A group photo of the online graduates was taken and each of them was presented with a gift from the University. For more information on online programs at UIS, visit www.uis.edu/online/.
UIS partners with Riverton kindergarten class to teach kids about college
Throughout the 2012-13 school year, kindergartners at Riverton Elementary School learned first-hand what it’s like to go to college.
The University of Illinois Springfield partnered with Ms. Kyleigh Campbell’s class to bring professors, students, and staff into the kindergarten classroom. The partnership is part of the elementary school’s “no excuses university” pledge.
“The whole concept behind no excuses university is teaching students no matter what, they have a future at a college or a trade school,” said Campbell.
Campbell reached out to UIS, which started the 10 month partnership. Representatives from UIS visited the school every two weeks, introducing the elementary students to a new aspect of the college experience.
“We contacted (UIS) because you’re a local university and the kids have absolutely loved getting to know you guys,” said Campbell.
Several UIS sports teams visited the school, including the men’s soccer team, men’s basketball team, women’s basketball team, and the volleyball team. The UIS cheerleaders and Cozmo, the UIS mascot character, also paid the school a visit.
“What they’ve asked us to do is to bring a myriad of programs and things that happen at our university and show the kids early on what you can do,” said Joan Sestak, UIS director of community relations.
Several faculty members, including Assistant Professor of Accountancy Lisa Chen, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Visual Arts Allison Lacher, and Computer Science Instructors Lucinda Caughey and Mary Sheila Tracy also helped to educate the students.
“I don’t think they realized how much they can really do at school,” said Campbell. “The fact that there is so much athletically (they can do), all the majors and staff you brought out. They didn’t realize what college was all about.”
The kindergartners also learned that college can be fun when UIS students from the Voices in Praise Choir and Legacy Dance teams performed.
“The (UIS) students, I think have gotten more out of it,” said Sestak. “I think they were surprised when they came, how interested the kindergartners were to learn about what they do in college.”