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Issue 2

May, 2010


Inside this Issue


Director’s Message

As the academic year comes to a close, it’s a time to reflect on the past nine months and look forward to the future.  It’s been a year of giving back – through mentoring, involvement in RSOs, and other matters of the heart. This generosity is Susanhighlighted in this issue, including the efforts of Mabinty Tarawallie in Sierra Leone and freshmen students Loreal Latimer and Rica Marshall on campus, and a special gift discussed below.  It’s also been a year of personal development and achievement.  Congratulations to the wonderful seniors who have left their individual and collective marks on campus, and to the many other I-Promise students who are recognized in this issue for their successes. None of what we do would be possible without the generosity of donors. Read about two such donors – Joe Martocchio and Brad Olson – in this issue.  As to the future, the Alumni Association will take on special meaning for our seniors; you will soon be a part of the largest alumni network in the world!  It’s all about building relationships for life. Stay involved! As for all other I-Promise students, this issue offers information on Study Abroad and how you can contribute to and benefit from mentoring.  In closing, special thanks to I-Promise freshman Emily Malamud for her continued leadership in contributing to and producing this eNewsletter.  Best wishes for a fun and productive summer.

Susan Gershenfeld

Director, Illinois Promise Student Services


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Congratulations to the Second I-Promise Graduating Class

Next week, approximately 100 I-Promise seniors will be graduating; the second cohort to earn this honor. Seventy-five percent are first-generation to graduate from college and all have much for which to be proud. At the Senior Reception in April, their achievements and talents were recognized. Not only did they excel in the classroom, but the majority of I-Promise seniors were also employed (91%) and volunteered (79%) in the local community, on campus, or with national organizations. More than one-third of the graduating class had internships and worked with a professor in conducting research.  It’s impressive that over 40% will be attending graduate school. As a small token of gratitude, I-Promise seniors creatively raised funds for a class gift, which is a paver that reads “Illinois Promise Class of 2010.”  Look for it on the east-side entrance to the Alumni Center when returning to your Alma Mater. 


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Alumni Association Q&A

What can an I-Promise student expect from the Alumni Association?

As a current student, you can expect to hear from your Alumni Association throughout your time on campus.  One way is through the I-N-I student e-newsletter brought to you each month by the University of Illinois Alumni Association.  Check out the I-N-I and you’ll get snapshot stories of our students, alumni and campus that will open your eyes to what an amazing University and alumni family you’re a part of.  Plus, stay up to date on Alumni Association events, programs, resources you can tap into, now or after graduation.


How can an alumnus remain involved with the University after graduation?

The University of Illinois Alumni Association is all about Building Relationships for Life. We’re here to help you stay connected with alumni and the University. There are plenty of paths to choose from but here’s what we consider our Top Ten List for New Grads:

1. Keep in touch with us at Let us know where you are and what you’re doing.

2. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Linked In.

3. Post photos on our Illini Experience photo gallery.

4. Join the Illinois Connection Advocacy Network and tell the U of I story near and far. 

5. Get the latest campus and alumni news – @ILLINOIS monthly e-newsletter.

6. Connect with alumni all over the globe via regional alumni clubs and contacts.

7. Tap into lifelong career services through the UIAA Alumni Career Center.

8. Network with alumni professionals in your field through your college, school or department.

9. Seek ways to give back as an alumni volunteer, mentor, leader or donor.

10. Wear your Orange & Blue and show your U of I pride.


What do you think is important for I-Promise graduates to know as they leave the University?

The most important thing to remember is that you are part of the University of Illinois family.  Your U of I education will shape the rest of your life and undoubtedly will shape the lives of those around you, our society, nation and world. As a member of the University of Illinois Alumni Association, you are part of the world’s largest alumni community – a talented, diverse and global network.  We welcome you, our newest generation of alumni, and invite you to keep your eyes open to the people, opportunities and resources that are available to you through your Alumni Association. In the years to come, we look forward to staying in touch with you.


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Recognizing Student Achievements

Featured below is information on I-Promise students who have shared their successes during this academic year.


Office of Minority and Student Affairs (OMSA) Scholastic Awards

The Mom’s Day Scholastic Awards Ceremony held in April honored the academic achievement of students who utilized OMSA’s programs and services and achieved a grade point average of 3.45 or above. The following Illinois Promise students were recognized at this special event and approved listing their names here:


3.45-3.69 GPA

Patricia Bowdry, ’12 Advertising

Jessica Carodine, ’13 Prenursing

Mayra Carrera, ’11 Kinesiology

Tiffany Dimas, ’10 Recreation, Sport, Tourism

Ayesha Johns, ’10 Urban and Regional Planning

Grecia Mendiola, ’11 English

Mayra Rubio, ’12 Undeclared

Gabriela Sahagun, ’13 General Curriculum

Chantelle Strong, '11 Psychology and Pre-med

Jameese Sykes, ’10 Psychology

Abisola Tepede, ’10 Community Health

Krystiaan Williams, ’10 Community Health

3.7-3.99 GPA

Pedro Aguirre, ’13 Accounting and Finance

Mauriell Amechi, ’11 Communication

Jenitra Cannon, ’13 Communication

Beth Guzman, ’13 Psychology

Roxzy Mabry, ’11 Kinesiology

Myrna Rivas, ’11 Chemistry

Cynthia Watson, ’11 History

4.0 GPA

Jasmin Ford, ’11 Community Health

Tichina Moore, ‘10 Psychology

Robert Walker, ‘11 Mathematics


Undergraduate Research

The third annual campus-wide Undergraduate Research Symposium took place in April.  The following five I-Promise students presented their research:


Mauriell Amechi, ’11 Communication, “The link to educational and socio-economic disparities.”


Sarai Coba-Rodriguez, ’10 Sociology, “Maternal stress: The role of single mothers’ work conditions on preschool children’s socio-emotional development.”


Eric Lorek, ’10 Community Health, “An ecological analysis of food environments in the United States.”


Jameese Sykes, ’10 Psychology, “Dimensions of a school climate and their effect on students’ perception of school safety.”


Robert Walker, ’11 Mathematics, “It’s not about what you know, it’s about what you can prove:  An investigation of the relationship between Bernoulli numbers and the Kummer Congruences.”



Silvia Gonzalez, ’11 Art Education and Photography, David Weinberg Scholarship: The decision was based upon "your talent and the focus of your artwork, your involvement and experience at Marwen, your motivation, academic performance, and financial need."  Silvia was one of two chosen recipients for the 2010-2011 scholarship, which includes a $5000 monetary award.


Mauriell Amechi,’11 Communications, Mid-America Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel (MAEOPP) "Board of Directors" Scholarship (one recipient is chosen from a specified state): “Although I was especially pleased and honored to be a nominee for the award, my earnest desire to support the education of a friend facing a financial plight instilled me with inspiration. Now, as the 2010 recipient of the MAEOPP "Board of Directors" Scholarship, I look forward to donating the scholarship of $1,000 to this friend.”


Student Affairs Awards

The Office of Student Affairs provides students with the opportunity to be recognized and rewarded for their tremendous contributions to the Illinois campus community and their commitment to academics and extracurricular involvement. This year, two Illinois Promise students received awards.


Kevin Collins, ’10 Sociology, Excellence in Leadership Award (Proctor & Gamble): This award recognizes an outstanding senior with a $500 monetary award.


Phillip Young, ’10 Communication, Jean F. Hill Leadership Award: This award recognizes exceptional seniors from underrepresented populations who have demonstrated outstanding campus leadership and overcome significant personal obstacles to earn their degrees.  This recognition includes a $550 monetary award.


Illinois Leadership Center – Leadership Certificate

The Leadership Certificate is a structured program designed to provide students with experience and growth in leadership. Student who enroll in the Leadership Certificate Program dedicate at least 2-4 semesters to meet various program requirements.


Kevin Collins, ’10 Sociology

Abisola Tepede, ’10 Community Health

Phillip Young, ’10 Communication


Other Awards and Recognition

Shanicka Burdine, ’10 Sociology: Outstanding Academic Achievement from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Rebecca Calvillo, ’13 English: James Scholar, Matthew’s Scholar


Abril Edwards, ’12 English: “I have been elected to the Central Black Student Union (CBSU) Executive Board where I will serve as the Social Action Chair.”


Justin Gholson, ’10 Urban Planning: Illini Union Student Employee of the Year and University of Illinois Employee of the Year


Emily Malamud, ‘13 Music Education: Chancellor’s Scholar, James Scholar, Matthew’s Scholar, and Dean’s List


Angela Procopio, ’11 Agriculture and Consumer Economics: James Scholar, Dean's List. “I have an internship this summer with First Midwest Bank.”


Phillip Young, ’11 Communication: Certificate of Excellence in the College of LAS, 2010 Graduate of the POSSE Leadership Foundation Scholarship and 2010 Graduate of the STEP-UP Scholarship


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Honoring Parents and Creating Opportunity

Joe Martocchio and Brad Olson have graciously established the Lorraine and Robert C. Olson scholarship fund for I-Promise students in honor of Brad’s parents and to give students the opportunity to go to college.


Joe says, “The [I-Promise] program is tremendous.  It gives people an opportunity to receive funding.  It’s a good support program with the mentoring and activities available for students.”  Brad responded, “I personally wanted to get involved and get my parent’s name attached because my dad had worked at U of I for almost 40 years.  I wanted to honor them and have a legacy attached to their names.” 


Brad and Joe are passionate about providing opportunities for students to go to college who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity. 


Brad says, “We can further education for people who need it.  My parents would be thrilled with this kind of program.”


Joe (on left in picture above) is an Associate Dean and Professor in the School of Labor and Employment Relations.  Brad (on right) is a Cost Analyst at Colwell Systems in Champaign.


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Student Travels to Sierra Leone to Help Children

In early January, Mabinty Tarawallie travelled to Sierra Leone for two weeks through a Study Abroad program.  When Mabinty learned of the option to travel to Sierra Leone, she immediately jumped at the opportunity, especially since it was her place of birth and much of her family still lives there.


She says, “I learned a lot about my country.  I had a negative view of my country before.  Part of it is because you watch the media here and it’s negative, but once you’re there you see the people are working very hard.  There’s actually hope.  Going there, I saw there was hope.”


One of Mabinty’s goals while in Sierra Leone was to help children by giving them school supplies such as backpacks, books, and pens since many go to school without any of these crucial materials. The Illini Union Bookstore helped in these efforts. “There’s so much more to do.  My whole goal is to give back to my people.  I plan on collecting books and working at a non-profit organization.  I’m going back in January to deliver more books to the school.  I’m going to keep the momentum going,” she says.


Mabinty encourages people to study abroad.  She explains, “You get to be out of your comfort zone and learn to adapt to the situation you’re in.  It broadens your world, and you experience things that you don’t experience at home.”


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Q&A for Studying Abroad

How can a low income student afford to study abroad? 

Students should first investigate the cost differences between exchange programs and non-exchange programs. Exchange programs are typically the most affordable study abroad program option.  Furthermore, students should keep an open mind about where they want to study. For example, if a student wants to improve his or her Spanish language skills, a program in Latin America is usually more affordable than one in Spain.

The Study Abroad Office offers various scholarship opportunities such as the Illinois for Illinois (I4I) Scholarship that awards approximately $250,000 to nearly 300 students each year in the categories of general merit, need, nontraditional destination, and underrepresented minority. Students should also keep in mind that it is important to apply early for scholarships, as many scholarship deadlines are earlier than study abroad deadlines. For more information about scholarships, please visit the Study Abroad Website:


Will I be able to graduate in 4 years if I study abroad?

Many Illini study abroad and graduate in four years.  Students should make plans with their academic advisor early in their college career and find out how they can study abroad for a Semester or Academic Year without pushing back their graduation date. Winter Break and Summer programs are also available if a short term program works better with their course of study. 


How can I find out about the program that’s right for me?

First, visit the Study Abroad website for more information about study abroad and to check out available programs.  Next, attend a First Steps meeting. Students can see our website for up-to-date location information. Then, drop by the office coordinating your study abroad program. There are multiple offices around campus. The central Study Abroad Office is located on the first floor of the International Studies Building on Fifth and Chalmers. You’ll find many resources here, including program information, program feedback evaluations from former participants, Peer Advisors eager to answer your questions, and Program Advisors with detailed knowledge about your program of interest.


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New Mentoring Opportunities

Back in August, sixty-seven freshmen I-Promise students chose either a peer or adult mentor to help facilitate their Grouptransition to college.  They received guidance on college life, their major, and their career. They also built relationships. This is a photo of mentors, mentees, and volunteers who participated in the end-of-the-year reception held at Memorial Stadium.


Next academic year, the mentoring program is expanding and will involve alumni mentors for upperclassmen I-Promise students.  If you would like to volunteer as a mentor or benefit from an alumni mentor who will be matched based on career or industry interests, contact Susan Gershenfeld at or (217) 244-7719.


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Paying it Forward

Loreal Latimer and Rica Marshall, 2009 graduates of Corliss High School in Chicago and currently University of Illinois freshmen, were honored on Friday, April 30th, by delivering remarks to 130 US Empowered Fellows who were visiting campus. US Empowered is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing low-income urban high school students with the resources, support, and network necessary to make higher education a reality. By spending the day on campus with student leaders (many of whom were I-Promise students), US Empowered Fellows received an opportunity to experience aspects of college life.  Loreal and Rica have both benefited as US Empowered Fellows and this is one way they are giving back.


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Raising Awareness of Class Differences on Campus

The Class Matters forum on February 2 was the first of its kind at the University of Illinois.  Seventy-five students from across campus gathered to discuss a different kind of diversity: social class.  The event was divided into three parts: an interactive poll, group brainstorming, and a question and answer session with a panel.


The interactive poll included use of the I-Clickers as each person answered questions about their backgrounds. For example, for students in the audience, 57% had parents who did not attend or complete college, 54% have to work to pay for college expenses (not just spending money), and 49% have had derogatory comments made to them about their socioeconomic class/status.


Students then gathered in groups to discuss the ways that they see class differences on the University of Illinois campus relating to media images, extracurricular activities, housing, education, and work.  After some ideas had been written down, students from each group shared their thoughts on the subject.


The event ended with a four-person panel sharing their own personal experiences on issues of class: Emeritus Professor of the University of Illinois at Springfield Kenneth Oldfield; Lhea Randle, ’09 Political Science and Communication; Robert Holly, ’12 Advertising; and Professor in the School of Labor and Employment Relations Monica Bielski Boris. They all opened up to the students about why class issues are important to them. Illinois Promise and the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations will plan a second open-dialogue forum on class for next year as well.


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Enriching Student Lives through RSO Leadership

Do you know 45% of graduating I-Promise seniors were in leadership positions in Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) on campus? While they have had an impact, other I-Promise students have assumed leadership positions and are also making a difference by enriching the lives of many students. Read about ten RSOs and the I-Promise leaders below and consider getting involved!



iEMPWR helps students on campus understand their role as individuals in society through promoting activism, outreach, education and camaraderie. iMPWR engages in political, social, and spiritual activities of expression and hence through using resources on campus and in the community reach empowerment amongst ourselves and others as minorities on campus.

Keeshia Winfert, Vice President


Illini Swim Club

The purpose of the Illini Swim Club is to unite swimmers who wish to compete at the collegiate level. Several practices are held each week and social activities are conducted. The club

took first place at the ASA-U Midwest Regional Meet.

Ed Walsh, Member


Illinois Men’s Rugby Club

The purpose is athletic recreation. The Club just won their last game of the season against the Chicago Riot Men’s Club.

Daniel Deligio, President


LAS Leaders

LAS Leaders was established to help strengthen the link between students of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and its alumni and friends. Recently, LAS Leaders went on an office visit to the Google Corporation in Chicago and met with several alumni who were able to describe their career paths tour their facility.

Rebecca Calvillo, Vice President Internal Relations


Minority Association of Future Educators MAFE

Future educators of all backgrounds come together and learn more about the field of education.  Just recently a panel of teachers from many schools was on campus to talk about their experiences as teachers.

Ijeoma Arachie, Treasurer


National Association of Black Journalists NABJ

The purpose of the NABJ-UIUC is to bring about a union of local Black journalists dedicated to truth and excellence in the news, and full equality in the industry in order:

(a) To expand and balance the media’s coverage of the Black community and Black experience.

(b) To encourage students to identify careers in journalism.

I To strengthen the ties between Blacks who work in majority- owned media and Blacks who work in the Black-owned media.

(d) To sensitize the majority-owned media to racism.

(e) To award scholarships and internships to Black students.

(f) To be an exemplary group of professionals that honors excellence and outstanding achievement among Black journalists.

(g) To work with high schools to identify potential Black journalists.

(h) To chronicle the history of Black journalists.

Recent activities include the Annual Journalism Workshop with Keynote Address by ABC 7’s Cheryl Burton and “Step Out on Nothing”: a book discussion and Keynote Address by CNN and 60 Minutes Correspondent Byron Pitts.

Jarron Farmby, President


Resource Information and Services for Students with Kids RISK

RISK is an upcoming organization for Illinois students who are also parents. The purpose is to provide information on resources and services through University and local agencies and create opportunities to alleviate segregation.

Carmen Wilson, President, (224) 425-3569


Teachers for Creatures – T4C

T4C educates all age levels about how to care for animals and treat them humanely. This involves committees about Puppy Mills, Breed Discrimination, Exotics, Feline Overpopulation, & Animal Assisted Activities.   Recent activities include: visiting a nursing home with animals from the Champaign County Humane Society; teaching the children at the Orpheum on Sundays; Shop and Teach (students wear ‘Adopt don’t Shop’ shirts throughout the mall); and Animal Quad Day (a variety of pets are brought to the quad for students to interact with them).

Brenda Dines, Chair, Public Relations Committee and Head, Feline Overpopulation Committee


U&I Collaborative 

The U&I Collaborative uses the art form to raise awareness on social, cultural, and current issues. Recent activity includes involvement with the Safe Haven community art show, the Edgar Heap of Birds vandalism response at the YMCA, CU for Haiti raising money for Haitian relief, and the Women’s Clothesline project to raise awareness on assault and violence against women.   U&I Collaborative often teams up with other groups to raise awareness and be a part of social consciousness and create positive change. 

Silvia Gonzalez, Co-founder


Writers Organizing Realistic DialectW.O.R.D.

The purpose of W.O.R.D. is to promote the writing aspects of any career field, especially careers in the performing arts. W.O.R.D. is one of the only RSOs on campus that is comprised of students who are dedicated writers (poets, song-writers, fiction, etc.) and also dedicated performers. Behind any stage play, popular book, song, or movie, there are writers; a very important aspect of any career.

Abril Edwards, Co-founder and Vice-President

Illinois Promise Student Services  |   Illini Union Bookstore Building  |   807 S. Wright Street Suite 320C

Champaign, IL 61820  |   217.244.7719

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