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.

NASA - Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared AstronomyOne Illinois teacher is receiving quite the honor. Jennifer Hubbell-Thomas of Chatham is on one of eleven teams of educators participating in NASA’s Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program.


They will be taking off on NASA’s “flying telescope,” the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy to assist on research projects with scientists. The teams will research such topics as planets, moons, asteroids, the solar system and more.  


Hubbell-Thomas, who has had a keen interest in astronomy from a young age, is an eighth grade science teacher from Williamsville Junior High. She applied for the program with another teacher, Stacey Shrewsbury. They are currently the only team from Illinois.


For more information: http://www.sj-r.com/article/20160313/NEWS/160319830/?Start=1

LTCHigherEdSpotlight2

High school students looking to start a career in telecommunications may find a unique opportunity at Lincoln Trail College in Robinson.

The college, which is part of the network of Illinois Eastern Community Colleges, offers an opportunity for students to assist in maintaining and improving the broadband infrastructure through their broadband telecom program. The program, offers a variety of skills needed to be successful in the field of telecommunications and is the only one of its kind in Illinois and just one of a small group nationwide.

Jesse Allen, director of the broadband telecom program, emphasized the importance of the program for the state of Illinois by creating qualified workers in the telecommunications field.

“As the demand for quality broadband speeds and connections increase to homes in rural Illinois, our students are at the forefront of the future growth the industry will experience,” Allen said.

Students learn such skills as splicing and maintaining fiber optic and copper cables, home and business telephone systems, and central office switching. Students are also required to take courses in communication and customer relations to prepare them for the careers they are about to step into.

The students in the program also understand the importance of supporting their communities while in school. Recently, the broadband telecom student club provided services to several community organizations, including fixing bad cables between two local schools.

According to the National Broadband Map, launched by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, three in four Americans now use broadband in their homes. Broadband Illinois shows that nearly 70% of households have broadband access in the state.

The program offers a two-year degree and opportunities for internships and specialized classes in business communication systems and developments in telecom.

For more information about the program visit: http://www.iecc.edu/page.php?page=LTCH_PRGM&acad=reqm&acadc=708

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