inthenews internetInternet access is an invaluable resource. Without it many of our students are unprepared for the future that awaits them in college classrooms, professional careers and everyday life. In decades prior, access to online information was not as widespread or important as it is now.

The EducationSuperHighway 2016 State of States Annual Report found that 83 percent of Illinois School districts representing 1,099,120 students met connectivity goals. The progress made last year tops the 71 percent of school districts with acceptable internet in 2015. The schools and libraries universal service support program, also known as the E-rate program, helps schools and libraries  get affordable broadband.

Read more ...

Loyola University ChicagoOne of the hardest things for many members of the military when re-acclimating to civilian life is to start or go back into schooling. Some even have been out of school for decades when they decide to return to finish a degree or start a new one. Many schools throughout Illinois are taking steps to make that transition easier.

Victory Media is an organization that has been working with schools and employers throughout the country to make the transition from military life to civilian life much easier. Recently, they announced their list of the top military friendly schools throughout the country.

Victory Media used multiple metrics to determine who the best of the best were. Some metrics for schools include student veteran retention, graduation, job placement and loan repayment. Schools were recognized for the support services they provide to veteran students throughout their degrees.

Nearly 40 Illinois schools were awarded the honor of being military friendly. Loyola University in Chicago was awarded the highest honor by being declared a top 10 graduate school for how military friendly it was.

If schools were within 20 percent of the top 10 scores, they received a gold medal. The following Illinois schools were gold medal recipients: Illinois State University, Richard J. Daley College, Robert Morris University Illinois and Western Illinois University.

For the complete list of military friendly schools, click here.

Photo Courtesy of University of Illinois at Springfield Athletic DepartmentTalon Supak’s junior year at the University of Illinois at Springfield ended on a high note this spring.

He became the first individual UIS student to qualify for an NCAA Division II National Championship Tournament and represented the UIS Prairie Stars at the NCAA Division II National Golf Championship in Denver in May.

Supak was born and raised in Washington near Peoria. He lived in Japan for three years until his sophomore year of high school, when he moved back to Illinois to play high school golf and earned a college golf scholarship.

Supak chose UIS because of the opportunity it provided him to play the highest quality competition available to him, but he also understood the importance of a quality education.

“The academics of the school were very enticing since I would be able to earn a U of I degree,” he said.

Supak enjoys UIS because of its size and class offerings.

“I am able to know and communicate with most of my classmates,” Supak said. “The faculty also respects and understands that I will miss class due to golf tournaments and they ensure that I am able to complete my assignments and keep up in class.”


Supak became the first golfer to qualify for nationals by winning his regional championship in Michigan in early May.

“It was a huge honor to represent UIS at the National Championships,” he said. “To be recognized as the first of what will be many teams and individuals to make it to nationals is a great privilege.”

As a lifelong resident of Illinois and a golf enthusiast, Supak said he has come to appreciate the state’s unique weather and seasons.

“My favorite thing about Illinois is the vast type of weather that we receive each season,” he said. “Applying specifically to golf, I felt that I have become a better player since I have played in all types of climates.”

After he completes his bachelor’s degree, Supak plans to remain at UIS for another year to take enough classes to be able to sit for his Certified Public Accounting exam. But after his education he would like to become a professional golfer.

Photo Courtesy of University of Illinois at Springfield Athletic Department

Photo Credit to Western Illinois UniversityThroughout his time at Western Illinois University, Wil Gradle has made helping other students a top priority. During the past year, Wil spent a lot of time in the Illinois State Capitol advocating that the state sufficiently support higher education and more specifically for excellent institutions like WIU.

Wil has been a lifelong resident of Illinois, representing the western suburb of St. Charles. Now he lives permanently in Macomb while he attends Western. Currently, this summer Wil is representing WIU at an internship for Catepillar in Peoria.

When choosing a college, Wil said that WIU offered an excellent education for an affordable price.

“Initially, I began looking at Western Illinois because of its reputation in the law enforcement world,” Gradle said. “Then, I factored in the reality that WIU is an incredibly affordable school. Had I attended another one of the institutions I looked at, I would’ve ended my college career paying nearly $100,000 more for a lesser education.”

It was hard for Wil to pick one top memory of his time at Western. But one thing that stood out for him was those educating him.

“I will say that my favorite thing about my time at WIU has got to be my professors,” Wil said. “Never in my academic career have I met people so concerned with the growth of the whole person, not just the academic.”

Wil recently completed his term as the student body president at Western Illinois. He cites his advocacy for students and higher education as a dominant factor into his position. He even organized a “state of the student” address discussing how the budget impasse affects college students. Illinois’ higher education infrastructure has been, and can be with proper investment a competitive advantage nationally and internationally.

“By properly funding higher education in Illinois, we can ensure our competitive advantage on the national and international stage,” Gradle said.

Driving Wil’s love for Illinois is its regional diversity from big cities to rural communities. Living in the suburbs allowed Wil to flourish and live close to a world-class city like Chicago. Then after a couple hours of driving, Wil was able to realize a completely different but equally appealing environment in Macomb and throughout central Illinois.

“There is something unique about every region of the state,” Wil said. “That’s my favorite part of living in Illinois.”

Wil looks to earn his master’s degree in economics from Western Illinois. After that, he looks to go into developmental economics to help struggling businesses and communities to foster growth. Wil is another example of excellence in our institutions of higher education.

Photo courtesy of Western Illinois University.

Photo Courtesy of Southern Illinois EdwardsvilleIllinois native and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville student Corinne Goodall recently was awarded the Eta Sigma Gamma Outstanding Undergraduate Major of the Year award by the National Health Education Honorary Society. The organization, founded in 1967, recognizes strong health education majors while also helping to prepare them for a career in health education.

Corinne was born and raised in Belleville and choose to attend college in Illinois because of the in-state tuition opportunities provided to her. She started at Southwestern Illinois College, where she went tuition free because of her excellent academic record in high school.

“Illinois is home to me. Illinois is wonderful because of the various landscapes and populations it houses. It is nice to be able to visit both the city and the country within a reasonable length of time,” Goodall said about her home state.

She would then transfer to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. After many semesters being undeclared, it was at SIUE where she found her career path in health education.

“I found health education by accident when I talked to a counselor at SIUE and told her my interests in the general health classes, helping people and volunteering. I fell in love with the field because of its diversity and preventive aspects,” Goodall said.

Goodall hopes to help others learn the best ways to prevent disease and create a healthier community. But Goodall highlights SIUE as a rock for her education.

“As for SIUE, I could never have done all the things I have done and been awarded without it. Within the health education program, we have the best professors who genuinely care about their students’ well-being and education,” said Goodall.

Goodall went on to excel being nominated by her chapter advisor this year to receive the Outstanding Undergraduate Major of the Year. She will receive the award March 31 at the Society for Public Health Education.

Photo Courtesy of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

facebooktwitteryoutube