Wednesday, January 20, 2016

UIS grad runs business school in Myanmar

Saw Golden Chit, who lives in the poor Southeast Asian country of Myanmar, also known as Burma, said he's wanted to run a business and be his own boss since he was a child.

In 2013, he enrolled in the Startup program through Opportunities NOW, a fledgling entrepreneurship school in Myanmar. The three-month program teaches students how to run a business before allowing them to come up with their own ideas. If an idea is approved, the student is given a small loan to get started.

Opportunities NOW was created in 2012 by Matt Wallace, a 2006 University of Illinois Springfield graduate, and his friend Ryan Russell.

Wallace, 31, said he wanted to start the school as a means to help alleviate the poverty in Myanmar, where half the 51 million residents live on as little as $2 a day and the unemployment rate is 70 percent in some areas.

“The education system is a wreck,” Wallace said. “It’s really a system based on rote memorization, and out of high school, people are not prepared to work. Small businesses were not going to grow. We’re there to help build the private sector to help empower people.”

A former resident of Trilla, Illinois, Wallace said he got the idea to start the school while he was an undergrad at UIS, working toward a bachelor’s degree in political science. He looked at different government structures in Southeast Asia, and by the time he had finished his studies, he decided he wanted to move to Myanmar to try to help the people there.

“When I graduated, no one was talking about Burma at the time,” he said. “It just seemed to make a lot of sense.”

This story was featured in The State Journal-Register on January 19, 2016.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

UIS students participate in MLK Day of Service

Ashley Osuma grabbed a roller and got to work Monday painting the upstairs hallway at the Family Service Center in Springfield.

The O’Fallon native was one of 130 University of Illinois Springfield students volunteering Monday as part of the national Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

Osuma, a sophomore, said she isn’t much of a painter, but participated because she wants to do more volunteer work.

“I just wanted to do something more productive with my time and try and make a difference,” she said.

Mark Dochterman, director of the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center, said this was the fourth year the university has organized a day of service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The number of volunteers has grown from 30 students in year one to 130 this year, he said.

Because more students volunteered, Dochterman said, the university was able to expand the list of nonprofits it could help.

Habitat for Humanity, Hope Thrift Store, Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach, M.E.R.C.Y. Communities, Ronald McDonald House, Senior Services of Central Illinois, Serving Jesus Willingly Mission and Springfield Urban League also got volunteer help Monday.

The story was featured in The State Journal-Register on January 19, 2016.

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Walker's fiery halftime talk sparks UIS men

University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball coach Bill Walker admits he let his team have it at halftime Saturday.

Whatever words he used, Walker’s message was heard loud and clear. The Prairie Stars came alive in the second half and pulled off a 79-63 win over William Jewell in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

“We needed that, definitely,” UIS senior guard Jamall Millison said about Walker’s halftime speech.

Senior guard JJ Cravatta said Walker got the team’s attention. “That was the turning point for us,” Cravatta said. “To let us know to take this stuff personally.”

Walker had reasons to go into the locker room less than pleased. He was unhappy with the effort, and UIS made just eight of its 29 shots from the field in the first half. Despite shooting 27.6 percent, UIS only trailed 37-30 at halftime.

“In 27 years, I probably threw the biggest tantrum I’ve ever thrown and I’m a little embarrassed by it,” Walker said. “I said, ‘You can’t let bad shooting affect your defense. We were missing shots and our defense dropped off. We really went flat (in the first half). Our energy translated into our shooting.”

A spirited late push led to UIS earning its first conference win of the season. 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 24 points. Freshman center Zach Steinberg contributed 11 points and 11 rebounds. Cravatta had 13 points.

The story was featured in The State-Journal-Register on January 17, 2016.

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UIS women earn first conference victory

The University of Illinois Springfield women’s basketball team rebounded from a humiliating defeat Thursday with a 63-52 win against William Jewell at The Recreation and Athletic Center on Saturday.

The victory snapped a three-game losing streak and earned the Prairie Stars their first Great Lakes Valley Conference win. They are 6-8 overall and 1-6 in the conference.

UIS found the win column with good ball movement and solid defense.

“We played as a team,” UIS senior forward Ashley McHenry said. “We played for each other rather than playing for ourselves. We moved the ball a lot. Nobody was selfish today. Everybody moved their feet. We helped on defense.”

UIS fell behind 12-5 but rallied to a 27-24 halftime lead. The Stars started pulling away from the Cardinals in the third quarter. They used a 12-2 run to go ahead 51-41 with 6 minutes 52 seconds left in the fourth. UIS remained in control the rest of the way.

It was a much needed bounce-back win for the Stars after shooting 18.2 percent from the field in the first half of a 72-46 loss to Rockhurst on Thursday.

“I am proud as I can be of that group after what we went through Thursday night,” UIS coach Mark Kost said. “To come back 36 hours and perform the way we performed after laying an egg says something about their character.

 “The defense was much better. We were focused and paid attention to detail.”

 McHenry led all players with 18 points. She also had five of the team’s 16 assists. Sophomore guard  Shelbi Patterson scored 14 points. Junior forward Chelsea Cross had 11 rebounds.
 The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on January 17, 2016.
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Thursday, January 14, 2016

UIS men's basketball team begins 3-game homestand vs. Rockhurst

The University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball team is looking forward to playing at home after a grueling road schedule that started in November.

“We have had 10 games against Division I and II teams and one has been at home this year,” UIS coach Bill Walker said.

The Prairie Stars have played a light home schedule until now. UIS (6-8) hosts three straight Great Lakes Valley Conference games at The Recreation and Athletic Center beginning Thursday night with Rockhurst (6-6) at 7:30. It plays Saturday against William Jewell and Monday against McKendree.

Rockhurst has a 1-3 conference record. UIS is 0-4 in the GLVC but could pick up a couple of league victories during the three-game homestand. UIS, William Jewell and McKendree as well as Missouri-St. Louis are the only teams without wins in the GLVC.

The team was featured by The State Journal-Register on January 14, 2016.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

New UIS men's soccer coach Hall knows conference well

Adam Hall is leaving one Great Lakes Valley Conference school to coach another as the new men’s soccer coach at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Hall, 31, was the men’s head coach at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana, last season. He coached at Ancilla College in Donaldson, Indiana, the previous two years.

Hall has had two head coaching jobs and turned both programs around immediately. Saint Joseph’s produced its first winning record since 2009 with a 9-6-1 finish last fall. The Pumas placed seventh in the GLVC standings, a nine-spot improvement. They also qualified for the GLVC tournament for the first time in 20 years.

At Ancilla, Hall was the 2013 Michigan Community College Athletic Association Coach of the Year after leading the team to the MCCAA title.

“The program hadn’t won a game in two years in the conference and we won it (the conference title) in our first year,” Hall said. “The next year, we were ranked 11th in the nation.

“St. Joe was a good turnaround as well.”

He hopes to turn things around at UIS. The Prairie Stars were 4-12-2 and 2-11-2 last fall.

Hall’s salary at UIS is $45,000.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on January 12, 2016.

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