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Issue 1

January, 2010


Inside this Issue




Director’s Message


susanIllinois Promise is kicking off the New Year with the launch of this eNewsletter.  It provides an opportunity for connecting with all things I-Promise – resources available to you and people in the community!  Let us know what you think by completing a brief survey (see link at the end of the eNewsletter).  Special thanks to I-Promise freshman Emily Malamud for her leadership in writing and producing this eNewsletter.

Susan Gershenfeld

Director, Illinois Promise Student Services


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New Mentoring Program Supports Freshmen


One of the newest enhancements to I-Promise has been the addition of the mentor program for freshmen. Sixty-five students (30% of the I-Promise freshmen class) took advantage of the opportunity to choose a mentor to help guide them through their first year at college.  Mentor Monica Bielski Boris and mentee Angelika Wardach are a prime example of the benefits a mentor/mentee relationship can have.


Even on paper, Monica and Angelika seemed like the perfect match since they are both Polish, first generation college students along with numerous other similarities.  Angelika, a freshman double majoring in Accounting and Business Management, says, “She stood out.  Her profile seemed nice, and she seemed like a great person,” with regards to selecting Monica in the first place. However, their connection extends beyond the surface.  Their connection was obvious after meeting, and they frequently communicate via texting or emailing.


The pair has felt that they equally benefit from the mentor/mentee relationship. “It’s nice to feel connected to the student body in a different way.  I’m used to dealing with large classrooms, so it’s a good experience to really get to know a student,” says Monica, a professor in the School of Labor and Employment Relations.  For Angelika, having a mentor was a valuable resource to her success in the first semester of college.  She says, “I didn’t know anyone.  I had no background in college, but Monica was available by email or phone call.” 


The introduction of the mentor/mentee program has given I-Promise students a positive boost.  Freshmen I-Promise students who would like a mentor or any upperclassmen I-Promise student who would like to serve as a mentor should contact Susan Gershenfeld at or 271.244.7719. The benefits of having a mentor or mentee will influence many others in years to come.


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Introducing the Illinois Alumni Mentor Program for Upperclassmen


Upperclassmen I-Promise students (sophomores, juniors, and seniors) will soon have the opportunity to have a mentor, too.  The Illinois Alumni Mentor Program will be piloted with alumni in the Chicago area who will be matched with upperclassmen I-Promise students based on career interests.  A one-year commitment and monthly interactions (in person, via phone, or email) are required. If you are interested in learning more or being matched with a mentor, contact Susan Gershenfeld – or 217.244.7719.


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Participate in “Class Matters” Forum - February 2nd


On Tuesday, February 2nd from 5-7pm in MP6 at the ARC (201 E. Peabody Drive), participate in an open forum entitled “Class Matters:  Understanding the Experiences of Low-Income and Working Class Students on Campus.” 


Anna Gonzalez, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Director Intercultural Relations, will provide opening remarks. An interactive exercise will follow before the panel discussion. Panelists include: Monica Bielski Boris, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Labor & Employment Relations, University of Illinois;  Robert Holly, I-Promise sophomore in Advertising; Ken Oldfield, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor, University of Illinois at Springfield; and Lhea Randle, I-Promise graduate in Political Science and Communication ’09 and Intern, Illinois General Assembly Legislative Research Unit. 


Appetizers, fruit, desserts, and beverages will be available.  This event is being sponsored by Illinois Promise and the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Relations.  For logistical reasons, please RSVP to by Jan. 26th.


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Join Us for Dining Skills for Today – March 2nd


Join other I-Promise students on Tuesday, March 2nd from 6-8pm in the Colonial Room 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 nine-to-five 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.


Dr. 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 2nd and receive the early-bird discount -- $10 per person. After this date, the charge is $15 per person and reservations will be accepted until February 23rd.  For further information and to reserve your seat, call Susan Gershenfeld at 217.244.7719 or email


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Doing Good in the C-U Community


Want to help out those in need this semester? Featured here are two great opportunities to volunteer with other I-Promise students.


Illinois Promise is looking for student volunteers to assist in serving dinner at the TIMES Center. The TIMES Center is a transitional living program for homeless men in Champaign and includes a community soup kitchen. In groups of four, volunteers will need to be at the TIMES Center at 5:45 to serve dinner at 6pm and stay for a duration of at least 30 minutes. Transportation will be provided. This is a great way to make a difference in the Champaign area.


The second opportunity involves the Don Moyer Boys & Girls Club in Champaign. Tutors are needed on weekday afternoons. Different times are available. Paperwork and a background check are required along with an orientation. Be a role model today!


If interested in either opportunity, please contact Meghan Hosken, I-Promise Administrative Assistant, at and include three possible nights you would be able to volunteer.


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Get Involved in Planning the I-Promise Senior Reception


I-Promise seniors mark your calendars!  On Friday, April 9th from 5-6:30pm, you and a guest will be invited to the Illinois Promise Senior Reception, which will be held in the Ballroom at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center.  This will not be an ordinary reception!  Classmates are just beginning to plan the special event, which will showcase the many achievements of your class. You can get involved, too!  Contact Susan Gershenfeld at or 217.244.7719 and learn more.


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Need Bandages or Other Healthcare Supplies?  Visit McKinley Health Resource Centers    


Some of the most useful locations on campus are the McKinley Health Resource Centers (HRC’s).  Each HRC offers free healthcare items for students at no additional charge!  (All supplies are included as part of the health services fee.)  Some of these items include acetaminophen/ibuprofen, bandages, condoms, and pregnancy tests.  These things are just a small sample of what is available.  For more information, please visit



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Q&A on Financial Aid


When will Spring 2010 refunds be available? 

Financial Aid for the Spring 2010 semester will begin to be disbursed to your student account on Sunday, January 10.  Any remaining balance after your student account has been paid in full will be refunded to you by University Student Financial Services and Cashier Operations (USFSCO).  Refunds from the first disbursement run are expected to be available by Friday, January 15.  Direct deposit is mandatory for all student account refunds.  An email will be sent to your official university email account once the refund has been processed.


What if I have not signed up for Direct Deposit?

If you have not already signed up for direct deposit, go to for information about enrolling in direct deposit. 


What if I need help purchasing books?

Illini Union Bookstore (IUB) allows you to purchase up to $600 in books at the beginning of the semester and to delay payment until you have earned money through your Federal Work-Study job. You are encouraged to only take advantage of this program if you don’t have funds available to purchase your textbooks and anticipate securing employment while on campus. Illinois Promise students will have the option of purchasing textbooks at IUB and deferring the bill until March 12, 2010 for the Spring 2010 semester.


Is Illinois Promise funding available for Summer?

Illinois Promise funding is not available for summer.  However, students with an extenuating personal situation or academic reason that requires enrollment in summer classes or enrollment beyond four years may petition for funding. Please be aware that appeals will only be approved in highly exceptional situations. The deadline for submitting an appeal for Summer 2010 is May 28, 2010. 


When do I apply for 2010-2011 financial aid?

The 2010-2011 FAFSA will be available January 1, 2010. To ensure full consideration for aid, apply online at by our preferential filing date of March 15, 2010.


Who do I contact if I have additional Financial Aid questions?

For additional questions regarding your financial aid contact the Office of Student Financial Aid at 217-333-0100 or



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Gates Scholar Chooses Illinois Before Pursuing Career of Helping Others


I-Promise freshman Loreal Latimer is one of one thousand students across the nation who was chosen to receive the highly coveted Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Scholarship. For the entirety of her collegiate education (through a doctorate), this scholarship covers all costs that grants from a university don’t cover, eliminating the need for any loans.


lorealLoreal completed all the steps in applying for the scholarship but didn’t have high hopes.  She says, “When I became a finalist, my counselor said that I would get it, but I didn’t believe him.”  One day when she came home from work, her father informed her of a package that had arrived for her.  It was a large box from the United Negro College Fund with a small piece of paper inside that said “Congratulations.”


Loreal was required to attend an accredited school for the scholarship, and she was deciding between Northwestern University and the University of Illinois.  She settled on the University of Illinois and loves it here.  She is involved with I-Promise and 100 Strong, and she also volunteers for Urban Students Empowered as a speaker helping to raise funds for inner city school students to be successful in college. Although she is currently a Chemistry major, she plans to switch to Speech Pathology next year. She has been inspired by her autistic younger sister to establish a speech and hearing clinic where she wants to specialize in working with children with autism and people with disabilities.


Loreal is pictured here with Larry Griffith, President of the United Negro College Fund.



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Generous Donors Make the I-Promise Scholarship Possible


Illinois Promise would not be possible without its generous donors. Two such donors are Robert and Barbara Hathorne, who were impressed with the opportunity to help students with the ability and desire to have a higher education, but who could not afford it. They felt that universities often used donor contributions for infrastructure and they wanted to contribute to access.


hathorneWhen Bob and Barb met with former Chancellor Richard Herman and learned of this pilot program, they were very interested and really excited that their donation would help more than just one student.  A generous foundation matched their contribution in an effort to launch Illinois Promise.


The message of I-Promise resonated with the Hathornes.  They started a printing business from scratch and risked their life savings during the 1980s recession.  At that time, their oldest son was a freshman in college, and they and their partner had agreed to take no income for a year.  It was a difficult period, but they believed in themselves.  As the Hathornes recently wrote…“You can do anything if you work hard, don’t give up, and don’t wait for someone to take care of you. This was what the program was telling its students…believe in yourselves.”


The Hathornes have deep ties to the University of Illinois.  Bob’s grandfather came to Illinois in the early 1900s with a promise of a job.  Sherman had no work in Maine and went to Waukegan where he built wooden sidewalks for a plant on Waukegan’s lake front.  Hard work and being frugal allowed him to send his three children to the University of Illinois.  Bob’s father, Wade, graduated with a degree in Science and Chemistry in 1923.  His Uncle Wendell died of the flu epidemic at the university, and his Aunt Eleanor spent two years at Illinois and had the privilege of seeing the first football game in Memorial Stadium.  In addition, Bob’s cousins, Marcia and Ginny Hathorne, were sorority sisters of Barbara Hummer Hathorne in the late 50s at Illinois.  It was at Marcia’s wedding that Barb and Bob met again.  They had gone to the same grade school and high school in Waukegan but had never dated.  This all explains their interest in the University of Illinois and their wanting the scholarship to go to a worthy Waukegan graduate.


They also deeply believe in the importance of education.  Bob’s mother, Ruth, was president and on the Waukegan Board of Education for 17 years. Barb’s degree is in Education, and she taught before they had children.  Bob would not have gone to the University of Denver without a scholarship, and Barb’s parents could only afford the University of Illinois where tuition was very reasonable in the 1950s.  Their two sons got small scholarships, and they put money aside for their grandchildren’s education. They also provided scholarship to Bob’s University of Denver, this mother’s University of Nebraska, and Union College, where Barb’s Dad and Uncle had scholarships.  Help those who have helped you…that’s their motto.


Recently, the Hathornes were delighted to hear from a Waukegan I-Promise student who is graduating in less than four years and plans to obtain a law degree so she can help minorities.  This student also hopes to be successful enough to give a scholarship to someone else.  That’s the dream of I-Promise.


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Outreach Committee: Serving Others and Creating Community


quyenMy name is Quyen Bui, and I am the President of the Illinois Promise RSO and am active in the I-Promise Outreach Committee.  Many of you may have heard about the Outreach Committee and some of you may not know about it – so I want to tell you a little bit about what we do. 


The I-Promise Outreach Committee was formed in fall 2008.  It is composed of I-Promise students who are passionate in serving the community. The members are mostly upperclassmen who volunteer to be a resource for incoming freshmen.  We have meetings throughout the semester to discuss issues that I-Promise students might face on campus and how to solve them.  We also plan social events to encourage I-Promise students to stay involved in the community and have fun at the same time.  Some of our social events that took place included ice skating, dodgeball, a holiday gathering, and apple picking at Curtis Orchard.  So when you get those emails from us about I-Promise social events, it is our way of inviting you to come out, have fun, and meet other I-Promise students. 


Being part of the Outreach Committee has helped me view I-Promise as a community of students who want to be there to support one another.  The friendships that we have made from working together are truly rewarding.  It has made this scholarship program even more personal.  We are all very grateful for the financial support that I-Promise has given us and our way of saying thank you is giving back to the community.  Please check out the calendar of events at the end of the eNewsletter, and I hope to see you at a future I-Promise event!


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 BSL Katherine Meghan SA


Student Editorial: Belonging on Campus


After reading “Among Privileged Classmates, I’m an Outsider” by Bobby Allyn, I began to think about my own feelings of belonging within my current and previous educational institutions. The transition from high school to college results in a culture shock for many people. They find themselves meeting peers from various ethnic, cultural, and economic backgrounds.  Yet, the feeling of displacement in a school where the majority of students come from fairly affluent families is not unique to American University.


It can be overwhelming to balance academics, activities, and work while trying to fit in time with friends who may not understand that going to a movie this weekend just doesn’t fit into the budget.  It can feel like nobody on campus understands what you’re going through when your friends are partying Thursday through Sunday, and you have to catch up on homework after working all day. 


I come from a suburb where most people my age are accustomed to having expensive clothes, computers, and cars.  For much of my life, I’ve had a difficult time explaining to other people and to myself why I’m not like them.  Why I don’t wear the same trends.  Why I don’t drive a car to school.  I assumed that these same feelings of isolation would continue in college.  This campus is so enormous that I thought it would be impossible to find somebody who would understand my background and experiences.  However, I soon realized that the vastness of the campus is actually a positive attribute.  Within such a large area, there are students from virtually every background.  I quickly understood that I am not alone.


I soon found that the easiest way to find other students who understand everything I was going through was through an organization that I was already part of: I-Promise.  I-Promise has given me an opportunity to have fun and relax without having to explain anything.  The Outreach Committee plans fun events and activities for all of the I-Promise students, and plenty of resources are available that range from tutoring to mentoring to financial advice.


It’s easy to retreat to my dorm room and come out only for food and classes, but I reached out and found that I have an immense support system at the University of Illinois.  This support is available for everyone involved in I-Promise and should be utilized to the fullest.

Emily Malamud

Music Education ‘13


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First Class of I-Promise Graduates Going Strong!


Class of 2009
I graduated in December, 2009 after 3 1/2 years at the university. On top of graduating early, I recently have been hired as a Personal Banker working at Chase in Chicago in the In-Store Sales and Management Development Program starting in January.

Bianca Jackson, Communication



My article entitled "Spiritual Development Lessons from Student Affairs: A Recent Graduate's Reflections on College Involvement" was published in September.  Also, I was given the opportunity to travel to India for three months after graduating this past summer. It was a hard decision but one of the best I have made. Going to India was a personal accomplishment that has truly set a foundation for the rest of my life. The lessons learned from teaching at a college and volunteering at orphanages and the experience of being in the midst of poverty for a little over a month is something that will be with me all of my life. These lessons have molded me and made me grateful to be where I am, and they are lessons that I will be able to share with whoever crosses my path in my future.

 Cecilia Macias, Communication



Currently, I am attending the University of Illinois at Chicago to pursue a doctoral degree in physical therapy.

Darshil Patel, Community Health



In May, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with honors – High Distinction in Political Science and Distinction in Communication and served as the 2009 Social Sciences undergraduate commencement speaker. My senior honors thesis with a faculty mentor focused on how race and ethnicity as well as partisanship effect how one considers their own policy preferences. Now, I’m interning in the Legislative Research Unit (the Agency that does the research for the Illinois State Legislature).

Lhea L. Randle, Political Science and Communication



I have had several work experiences thus far, but one of the most challenging and thought-provoking experiences was working abroad doing a research internship for a grassroots microfinance NGO in Fatick, Senegal. Through the experience, I was able to understand the complexities of development and microfinance while working in the NGO itself and interviewing women who actually apply microfinance as a revenue-generating strategy. At the end, my observations and findings were compiled into a solid research report, which I have used in further research into microfinance and social business.          

 Anjali Thakrar, Economics and International Studies


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By the Numbers


In a recent I-Promise senior survey, 85% of students are planning to graduate in 2010 and 43% are applying to graduate school.  (The response rate for the survey was 51%.)



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Current I-Promise Students Share Accomplishments!


Class of 2010

My senior design project for Mechanical Engineering was to design and build a working chocolate fountain, which was required to exceed the height of the tallest, commercially-available chocolate fountain. My two teammates and I designed, ordered materials, and built a seven-foot tall, stainless steel chocolate fountain, which was presented to the project sponsor, Bruce Hink - Owner of Mia Za's Café. Mr. Hink plans to display the fountain in his restaurants and during U of I's Engineering Open House 2010. 

Joshua Fisher, Senior, Mechanical Engineering



Earlier this year, I was honored by OMSA, receiving the annual Mom’s Day Scholastic Award for high academic achievement. This past summer I was fortunate enough to participate in the Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP), sponsored by the University of Illinois Graduate Program, where I engaged in rigorous academic research, producing a 25 page paper. In addition, this fall I was crowned Mr. University of Illinois.

 Royel Johnson, Political Science


Class of 2011

As a McNair scholar this past summer, I had the pleasure of examining the importance of standardized tests in American education, particularly its barriers or hindrances to the educational opportunities of students of color. One of my biggest accomplishments as a researcher was taking 1st Place in the SAEOPP McNair Research conference for Best Oral Presentation in the field of Education.  More recently, I was one of ten students (out of 320 applicants) selected for the Grad Prep Academy at the Univ. of Pennsylvania, which will assist me with my matriculation to a grad school.

Mauriell Amechi, Communication



This year I was awarded through the College of Education the William Chandler Bagley Scholarship. This award is given to distinguished education majors who are committed to meeting the educational challenges of the future.

 Emily Trapp, Elementary Education ‘11



Class of 2013

This year I received a four-year, Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship for the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. After my four years of college, I will be entering the Naval Fleet as a Surface Warfare Officer.   

Midshipman 4/C Joshua Johnson, Accounting



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I-Promise Calendar of Events


RSVP required: or




Saturday – 23rd

Welcome Back Ice Skate! 2-4pm at the Ice Arena. Free admission and only $1 skate rentals! Free hot chocolate and donuts after skating.

Saturday -  30th

Game Day! 2-4pm, English building, main lounge. Expect board games and fun!

Sunday – 31st

Cooking a Meal from Scratch! 5pm, ARC, Instructional kitchen. Learn to cook a healthy, tasty, and fun meal from two culinary experts!




Tuesday – 2nd

Class Matters: Understanding the Experiences of Low Income and Working Class Students on Campus. 5-7pm, MP7 ARC (201 E. Peabody Dr.). Panel discussion where students can learn or share their own experiences of class issues on campus. (See related article) Co-sponsored by I-Promise and Student Affairs.

Saturday – 13th

Valentine Sweets! 4pm, ARC, instructional kitchen. Students will learn how to make a tasty treat for their sweets this Valentine’s Day.

Saturday – 20th

Game Day! 2-4pm, English building, main lounge. Take someone on in a rematch!

Sunday - 2/28th

Dodgeball Tournament! 2-4pm at the ARC.




Tuesday – 2nd  

Etiquette Dinner! 6-8pm, Illini Union, Colonial Room. This dinner will help to refine those social skills essential in the business world today. RSVP for a spot! (See related article)

Sunday – 7th  

Volleyball! 2-4pm at the ARC!

Wednesday – 10th

Sushi Night! 7-9pm, ARC, instructional kitchen. Learn how to make your own sushi rolls!

Wednesday – 17th

Protect Yourself from Identify Theft! 6-7pm, Illini Union Bookstore building, room 514.  Co-sponsored by I-Promise and TCF Bank.




Saturday – 3rd

Bowling! 2-3pm, Illini Union

Tuesday – 6th

Movie Night! 7pm, Illini Union Bookstore building, room 514

Friday – 9th

Senior Reception! 5-6:30pm, Alice Campbell Alumni Center, Ballroom (see related article)

Saturday – 17th

Spurlock Museum Tour! 2pm, Tour the world history and culture museum on campus with the valuable assistance of a local expert.

Wednesday, 21st

End-of-the-semester BBQ! 5-6:30pm, Illini Grove.


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We’re interested in getting your feedback on this inaugural eNewsletter.  Please take a minute and complete a brief survey by clicking on this link:


























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

Champaign, IL 61820  |   217.244.7719

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