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Director’s Message

Any student who meets the criteria for the I-Promise scholarship receives it; there is no cap. This fall, we welcomed 275 new students, the largest incoming class of I-Promise scholars since the program’s inception in 2005. Thirty-five percent of incoming students have chosen mentors, including one mentee-mentor pair featured in this newsletter. Altogether, there are 752 I-Promise scholars on campus. In addition to receiving a robust scholarship, I-Promise scholars are able to pursue various enrichment and community-building opportunities, some of which are included below. There is something for everyone! Explore, get involved, and I look forward to connecting with you in 2013.

Susan Gershenfeld
Director Illinois Promise Student Services

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony” – Mahatma Gandi

Congratulations Coca-Cola First-Generation Scholars!

Thanks to the generosity of the Coca-Cola Foundation, six I-Promise students received funding this academic year through the Coca-Cola First-Generation Scholarship Program. Freshmen students were selected based on being the first in their family to attend college, competitive composite ACT scores, and areas of academic interest that mapped onto priorities of the Coca-Cola Foundation (health, business, communications, or environment). As First-Generation Coca-Cola Scholars, the students receive funding over four years if they continue qualifying for the I-Promise scholarship. This is the first of four cohorts who will receive funding in addition to support services through I-Promise. Support services include, in part, mentoring and targeted community-building activities.

The first cohort of First-Generation Coca-Cola scholars include: (top row left to right) 1) Adrian Guereca (Psychology); 2) Alejandra Reyes Pena (Broadcast Journalism); 3) Daniel Vargas (Business); (bottom row left to right) 4) Dejenea Shaw (Psychology); 5) Faith Hines (Agriculture and Consumer Economics); and 6) Melody Wong (Chemistry). Congratulations!

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Join Us for Dining Skills for Today – March 12th

Join other I-Promise students on Tuesday, March 12th from 6-8pm, room 210 at the Illini Union for a four-course dinner and an opportunity to polish your dining skills!

Soon enough you’ll be entering the working world. A lot of business is conducted at parties and dinners, meetings that on the surface seem purely social. Knowing how to take advantage of the potential in these situations adds to your 9-to-5 abilities, especially since many people are not at ease in such environments. Dining Skills for Today will give you a useful set of tools for those special situations where business relationships are developed and strengthened in social settings.

Presenter/Facilitator Beth Reutter will cover: Business Entertaining, Host/Hostess and Guest Duties, Place Settings, Silverware Savvy, The Silent Service Code, Body Language at the Table, Handling Accidents, Difficult to Eat Foods, Forms of Service, American and Continental Styles of Eating, Toasting as well as other dining tips.

This event is partially subsidized to help defray the cost per I-Promise student. RSVP before February 12th and receive the early-bird discount -- $10 per person. After this date, the charge is $15 per person and reservations will be accepted until March 5th. For further information and to reserve your seat, call Susan Gershenfeld at 217.244.7719 or email sgershen@illinois.edu.

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You are Needed on the I-Promise Relay for Life Team – April 20-21st

Almost all of us have been touched by cancer in some way, so we've decided to make a difference by walking and raising money in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life event. It takes place at the U of I Outdoor Track, beginning at 6pm on April 20th.

At the event, our team will camp out overnight and take turns walking around the track to raise money and awareness to help the American Cancer Society in the world’s largest fight for more birthdays.

Our team is doing our part to make sure that cancer never steals another year of anyone’s life. We have raised over $500, about half of our team’s goal. Please join our team or make a donation, because saving lives from cancer starts one team, one participant, and one dollar at a time. Do so by clicking here:

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I-Promise Volunteers at Booker T. Washington

I-Promise students are enriching the lives of local elementary school students through tutoring in an after-school program at Booker T. Washington Elementary School. The effort was initiated by I-Promise alum and current Master of Social Work student, Mabinty Tarawallie and junior Chemical Engineering major, Renato Yutuc, through the I-Promise RSO. The volunteer effort started to grow quickly from word of mouth and now includes 35 volunteers. Mabinty takes on the responsibility of coordinating with the school, working closely with the teachers and staff members, while Renato works with the volunteers addressing administrative matters. Mabinty expressed, “Our goal is to tap into others and give them opportunities to volunteer at Booker T. Washington.” She also talked about how Booker T. Washington needs more in-class teacher assistance, which is their goal for next year. In the future, the volunteer program plans to expand their services to other schools. Renato is all about giving back. He even developed a science club curriculum that he hopes to launch next semester. As he talked about his reasoning for getting involved with the program he stated, “I want to give back; I want to actually work with and help children be more exposed to education.” Renato is also in charge of recruiting new members. Students interested in learning more about volunteering in the after-school program can reach Renato at ryutuc2@illinois.edu.

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I-Promise Scholar Benefits from McNair Research Opportunity

Olivia Hatch, a junior majoring in Architecture, spent a highly-productive summer in 2012 as a McNair scholar. As Olivia explains, “The McNair program is a ten week research program dedicated to helping select students with research as well as preparing them for the GRE, as the program is dedicated to preparing students for graduate school and receiving their Ph.D.”

The McNair program was created in honor of Ronald E. McNair, the second African American to fly in space. Along with five other astronauts, he perished when the Challenger Space Shuttle exploded after take-off in 1986. It is administered through the Office of Minority Student Affairs and is funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

The program is both highly prestigious and competitive. For Olivia, she explained the positive impact of participating, “I developed a great relationship with a professor that I had not met before the program. I was also extremely afraid of presenting in front of people until the first conference in Atlanta where I won my first research award. I also met a lot of people and expect lasting connections.” With regards to her research, Olivia said, “My research initially was about the architectural changes that occurred at my high school when it changed from a regular south side Chicago high school to a college prep high school, and how that affected the surrounding neighborhood, students, etcetera. My research changed a bit towards the end as I found out that it was the changing of the neighborhood to house less low-income black families and more middle-class families (a process called: gentrification) that sparked the change of the surrounding schools.”

Olivia advises scholars not to be afraid of their research subjects. Unique research subjects could help their McNair application stand out. While the priority application deadline was December 1st, applications are accepted year-round. Here is a link to learn more: http://www.omsa.illinois.edu/gradprep/mcnair.html

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Campus Resource: Computer Labs

There are plenty of important resources here at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and computer labs are definitely one of them. Computer labs are located in many areas across campus such as the residence halls, libraries, Illini Union, English Building, Nevada Building, Oregon Building, and as well as several other locations. These labs are open to all students, faculty, and staff. To use the computers in the lab, you must have a NetID and an Active Directory, or NetID password. Complete locations and open hours are located at this site: cites.illinois.edu. The cost for printing in the labs range in price from $0.05 to $0.10/page (more for color print). There is also a way to reserve space in the labs for group projects through the website.

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Benefiting from a Mentoring Partnership

I-Promise provides upperclassmen scholars an opportunity to become peer mentors and freshmen scholars an opportunity to be matched with a peer or adult mentor. Jenny Ehrnthaller and Demi Williams are currently participating in an I-Promise’s mentor –mentee partnership. Demi is a freshman, majoring in Biological Sciences, and she thought that it would be great to have a positive role model to relate to and someone who can provide guidance in college. For Jenny, she was seeking more opportunities for volunteer work, and knew that the I-Promise program would be very rewarding. The partnership has had a positive impact. For example, Jenny has assisted Demi in choosing classes for spring semester. This was useful advice for Demi since Jenny also started out in the same major. For Jenny, she has had an inside perspective into a student’s life who has had to overcome difficult circumstances. Besides the extra help, this partnership also brought about many enjoyable moments such as when Demi informed Jenny that she had finally started dating her secret crush. Jenny was thrilled by the great news. Demi laughed as she said “it was fun to see Jenny’s expressions when I told her”. All-in-all, a mentor-mentee relationship can provide several opportunities for students to receive guidance from someone who has had the experience and welcomes the opportunity of passing their wisdom from one person to the next. The memories will definitely last a life-time. Any I-Promise freshmen interested in being matched with a mentor during the spring semester should contact Susan Gershenfeld at sgershen@illinois.edu.

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I-Promise Founder and Donor Richard Herman

Former Chancellor, Richard Herman, is the founder of I-Promise as well as a donor of the I-Promise senior essay contest. Dr. Herman’s initial purpose for launching this robust scholarship program back in 2005 was to reduce the loan debt for low-income students on campus. Even with students receiving grants and other financial aid, he felt the loan burden was a barrier for talented students in choosing the University of Illinois to further their education. Therefore, he came to the conclusion that a program such as I-Promise was necessary. One aspect of I-Promise that Dr. Herman is exceptionally proud of is the academic and personally supportive environment, which is so key to the success of the scholars.

Another component of the program is the I-Promise senior essay contest. Dr. Herman supports this competition since it gives him an opportunity to hear from I-Promise scholars at the end of their undergraduate career – highlighting what they experienced to get to that point in their lives and learning about their hopes for the future. The first senior essay winner is now a second-year doctoral student in Mathematics at the University of Michigan. Last year’s essay winner is teaching in North Carolina with Teach for America.

With the college experience comes several challenges and hardships. Dr. Herman advises I-Promise students to “continue to recognize the opportunity that’s being given to you. The promise is two parts really – the promise of the university towards the students to create a supportive environment, but there’s also a promise expected back and that the student does everything possible to succeed.”

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Senior Essay Competition

This is the third year I-Promise seniors have the opportunity to participate in an essay competition, with the winner presenting their essay at the I-Promise Senior reception on April 12th. In addition, the winner is acknowledged with a beautiful award and a $500 financial contribution that is applied to reduce any college loans. The 500-word essay needs to address what the I-Promise scholarship has meant for the student and their bold dreams for the future. An email with further information detailing the Senior Essay Competition was emailed to I-Promise seniors during winter break. Deadline for submitting the essay is February 1st. Please send the essay as a PDF attachment to Susan Gershenfeld – sgershen@illinois.edu with your name in the subject line. Questions? Contact Susan at 217.244.7719.

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Interested in Leadership Opportunities with I-Promise?

I-Promise Ambassadors are student leaders who advance I-Promise in a variety of settings and to different groups of people, such as fellow college students, donors, high school students, alumni, and more. There will be a pilot expansion of the Ambassador program in residential halls, with a particular focus on building community and support amongst I-Promise scholars. If you are interested in learning more about this voluntary leadership opportunity, please contact Susan Gershenfeld – sgershen@illinois.edu or 217.244.7719.

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Student Commentary

After reading, “For Poor, Leap to College Often Ends in a Hard Fall” by Jason DeParle in the New York Times, I was riveted, reflecting on points that resonated with me; maybe other I-Promise scholars feel the same. The article brought up the fact that “low-income Americans have lower chances of upward mobility” due to family and financial strains.

After the death of my father, the only way I knew how to help my family’s financial situation was earning a college degree. My first semester on campus was stressful, not only because of the classes, but because of a promise I made to my dad before he passed. I told him not to worry, and that I will take care of the family, especially my youngest brother, Jericho, who was five years old at the time. Being so far away from my little brother was hard, and people didn’t really understand.

The article pointed out “many low-income students, feeling the need to help out at home, are deterred by the thought of years of lost wages and piles of debt.” How true. Time after time, I would check on how the family was doing and would find mom stressed over our finances. I asked her a bold question, if I should just drop college and go home to help out. She wanted me to finish and to not worry about it. Instead, I did what I could. I found a job on campus in order to try and help pay for bills while still being at school. I thought that no one understood where I was coming from, but my other I-Promise friends understood exactly what I was feeling, and I was glad to have support.

I-Promise is definitely a group of people that understand. Not only is I-Promise a financial scholarship, but also a support system. The impact the I-Promise program has had on me is monumental. I grew as a person, and I’ve achieved things I didn’t know I could have achieved. Next year I’ll be graduating with a degree in Chemical Engineering. Fortunately, I will not have the same outcome as the students featured in the article, but I clearly understand the challenges low-income college students face. I-Promise mitigates these challenges, and I greatly advise everyone to take advantage of the I-Promise program.
Renato Yutuc, I-Promise Club President
2013, Chemical Engineering

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Life of an I-Promise Student Athlete

KaWanna Brooks is a track and field athlete at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from Chicago. She chose to be a part of this university because she sensed it would be a good choice for her academically and athletically. When she visited the university prior to beginning the school year, she felt at home. KaWanna’s daily routine consists of going to class, going to practice, going to the training room for treatment, going to work, and going to dance practice. In the track and field world, Brooks is a heptathlete, competing in seven events over a span of two days. She says that she is very organized so it is not hard to balance sports and academics; she is able to set goals and plan them out. Some of her dreams for the future include becoming a professional athlete and competing in the 2016 Olympics. She also has career plans in the phlebotomy field. Some advice that Brooks would give to other students is to stay focused, despite all of the social and academic activities going on all around them. Also, students should set goals and surround themselves with positive people, and encouragement.

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Leadership Transition with I-Promise Club President

Dear I-Promise community,

The Illinois Promise Club, I-Promise's very own Registered Student Organization, has had another successful semester. We had a record number of involved students regularly attend meetings and events! The group has also given multiple students the opportunity to step forward and take advantage of leadership opportunities in order to make a difference both within I-Promise and in the community.

I am very grateful to have served as I-Promise Club president for the last year and a half, and I am constantly inspired by the talent, leadership, creativity, and perseverance found among I-Promise students. It is with great pleasure that I welcome Renato Yutuc into the role of president for the coming semester. He has helped to grow the volunteer program of the RSO and will continue to expand the group with fresh and new ideas to unite the I-Promise community.

Please know that new faces are always welcome at meetings and events throughout the semester. Best of luck with your transition into new classes!

Sincerely,
Emily Malamud

Dear I-Promise,

I am grateful to serve as the new president of the Illinois Promise RSO. I have seen such selfless acts, talents, ambition, and motivation among I-Promise scholars, that I am confident we can further enrich the lives of the community, as well as within I-Promise. We have such high potential that we are more than capable to make a difference around us. The Illinois Promise RSO will be offering more leadership opportunities this semester to give students a chance to step forward and make a difference among their peers. Becoming involved with I-Promise is definitely a rewarding experience. In the end, I hope to not only unite the I-Promise community, but to make the organization feel like a “second-home”.

Please know that it is never too late to become involved with I-Promise; we welcome new faces! If you wish to be included on the listserv, email me: ryutuc2@illinois.edu. Also, join us on Facebook: Be on the lookout for our first I-Promise meeting for this semester, as well as social or volunteering events in! Best of luck with your new classes, and I wish this semester brings more friendships, personal growth, and accomplishments for everyone.

Sincerely,
Renato Yutuc

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Student Accomplishments

*This semester has been a blessing. I was finally accepted into the College of Fine & Applied Arts and declared Architectural Studies as my major. I've started my path towards becoming a licensed Architect in the future!!! Olivia Hatch, 2014

*I was able to kick-start the volunteering/tutoring program at Booker T. Washington with Mabinty Tarawallie; I have presented before BP representatives for my ChBE 421 design competition and placed third. In addition, I was offered and accepted a process engineering internship with Hillshire Brands for next summer. Renato Yutuc, Chemical Engineering, 2014

*I have been accepted to participate in the Disney College Program Internship at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida next semester. Jasmine Arias, Actuarial Science, 2015

*This past semester I had the great pleasure of volunteering with the Disability Resources and Educational Services Center. I assisted with the strength and conditioning program for the Fighting Illini Wheelchair Basketball team. This past semester was also my first semester working as a Certified Personal Trainer at the Campus Recreation facilities. Manu Edakara, Interdisciplinary Health, 2014

*During winter break, I went with a small group of U of I students to volunteer in Huancayo, Peru! I taught English to the children of Huancayo. As I plan on being a Spanish and ESL teacher, this was a perfect opportunity! I even paid most of my own way. Megan Hawver, Spanish, 2015

*During my time studying abroad in Shanghai, China I was awarded 1st place in a Chinese speaking competition. As a 100 level student, I competed against 5 other 100 and 101 level speakers. Additionally, I was awarded the Most Improved Chinese Speaker Award. Arturo Romo, Urban Planning, 2014

*I could not be happier with my accomplishments during the Fall 2012 semester. In October, I was accepted to study abroad at Lincoln University in Christchurch, New Zealand for calendar year 2013. A few weeks later I received the Gilman Scholarship, a $5,000 award that will help me fund study abroad. I am so excited and look forward to my departure in mid-February." Nick Musso, Natural Resources and Environmental Studies, 2014

*This past semester, I have been given the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities through leadership positions. I am the collegiate challenge chair for Habitat for Humanity, I was just recently voted President of Alpha Omega Epsilon, and I have been participating in research through the Civil and Environmental Engineering department. I just recently switched into Environmental Engineering and declared two minors: Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. I am hoping to continue to get more involved in my academics and extracurricular activities. Jessica Iszczyszyn, Environmental Engineering, 2015

*I am an active member in many organizations, including: a Latin sorority called Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha Inc.; Phi Eta Sigma Honors Fraternity; National Society of Collegiate Scholars; and the I-Promise Scholarship organization. I participated in the Global Architecture Bridges competition in January 2012 and will participate this month as well. I was offered a job with the System Design Architect, beginning in the summer right after graduating in May 2013. Ana Tenemaza, Architecture, 2013

*I have been accepted to the 2013 cohort of MENgageMENT: Men engaging in mentoring. Steven Calhoun, Undecided, 2016

*My accomplishment is earning a 3.69 GPA and making the Dean’s List. Renita Franklin, LAS Undeclared, 2016

*I completed Community Element's comprehensive Crisis-Line Training. I am now a qualified crisis-line volunteer for their 24-hour telephone hotline that assists callers with crisis intervention, suicide prevention, and community information. Airian McDuffy, Psychology, 2013

*The dance team I am a part of, UIUC Fizaa, placed 2nd at The Manhattan Project last year as well as this year. It is a dance competition that takes place usually around Thanksgiving break. Also, last year we had back-to-back weekends 1st place wins. The first was in Los Angeles, California at the Alex Theater and the second was in Chicago, IL at Northwestern University. Syed Kausar, Sociology, 2013

*The Innovation LLC hosts an annual competition called the Founders Bowl. The Founders Bowl is a public speaking competition where students must choose an alum of the University who has started a company or created a new invention. My roommate and I competed and we chose alum Martin Eberhard, winning first place based on our presentation of Tesla Motors. We received a cash prize and a trip to Notre Dame University in the spring to compete in a larger scale competition. Ricardo Pierre-Louis, Business, 2016

*I am very proud of my hard work this fall semester, especially my acceptance into the Counseling Center Paraprofessional Program. Larry Stribling, Psychology, 2014

*I was one of two freshman chosen for a research initiative. I will be working with Dr. Deanna McDonagh, Chair of the Industrial Design Program, School of Art/Design/Beckman Institute. Her research, Designing Bathrooms for the Future, is very cool because it integrates several disciplines: microbiology, design, psychology and cutting -edge technology - really thinking outside the box. I feel very privileged (and I get paid!). Elizabeth Arcan, Biology, 2016

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Alumni News

*I work with the National Merit Scholarship Corporation in a Scholarship Administration Staff position. This is an independent, not-for-profit organization that gives approximately 8,000 scholarships per year to college seniors through a nation-wide scholarship competition. In this role, I am actively involved with multiple aspects directly related to the overall administration of the scholarship program. Lhea Randle, ’09 Communication and Political Science

*I work for the Department of Justice on the West Coast. Jarron Farmby, News Editorial Journalism, 2011; MS Journalism 2012

*This past December I graduated from the School of Labor and Employment Relations with a Masters in Human Resources and Industrial Relations. I will begin working for Anheuser-Busch as a People Supervisor in February of 2013. April Moore, Communication, 2011

*I started my career at Crowe Horwath this fall as an Internal Audit - Risk Consultant. Chelsa Moore, Accounting, 2012.

*This summer I took part in a project through a woman made gallery called #20neighborhoods. The event was featured in Chicago Artist Monthly as a “must see event”. Beyond the culminating show, I was able to connect with women in Albany Park's Centro Autonomo as a teaching artist, engaging in conversations of resilience, women's issues, and potential ways to see self-empowerment in continual renewal on a daily basis. I was able to engage in meaningful discussions around self, family, community, and the world that many of us envisioned. Closely collaborating with about 5 women in Spanish on this art project was a truly unforgettable experience. Other than that, I truly enjoyed my first gig as a teaching artist at Street Level. I loved teaching young adults and being a mentor to high school students. I continued my journey on into CPS shortly after, accepting the position as a full time teaching artist for CPS at Marquette School of Excellence. Now, I work with grades 5-8 teaching the Visual Arts and learning so much through these students. Silvia Gonzalez, Photography and Art Education, 2011

*Currently, I am the Assistant Director for Annual Giving at Saint Xavier University. I have been in this position for just over a year. I am responsible for the annual fund at Saint Xavier. My efforts include phonathon, direct mail appeals, e-solicitations, and text to give, to name a few. As a student, I was so grateful for the generosity and support that I was offered through the I-Promise program. Now, as a fundraising professional, I truly understand the sacrifice that the donors (of any university) make in order to help a student's dream come true. Kendyl Lyons, Communication,2011

*In December, 2012, I earned a Masters in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Samatha Pitman, HDFS, 2010.

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Director's Message

Congratulations Coca Cola First-Generation Scholars!

Join Us for Dining Skills for Today

You are Needed on the I-Promise Relay for Life Team – April 20-21st

I-Promise Volunteers at Booker T. Washington

I-Promise Scholar Benefits from McNair Research Opportunity

Campus Resource: Computer Labs

Mentoring Partnerships

I-Promise Founder and Donor Richard Herman

Senior Essay Competition

Student Commentary

Life of an I-Promise Student Athlete

Leadership Transition with I-Promise Club President

Student Accomplishments

Alumni News


 

 

 

Illinois Promise Student Services  |   Illini Union Bookstore Building  |   807 S. Wright Street Room 511

Champaign, IL 61820  |   217.244.7719

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