Monday, October 29, 2018

Susan Koch: Learners grow into leaders at UIS

The following is an excerpt from a column by University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch. This column appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 27, 2018.

The University of Illinois Springfield is known for leadership lived — a reputation that reflects the university’s roots in the home of Abraham Lincoln — an educational community where talented faculty and staff help learners become leaders in a broad range of endeavors.

As Chancellor, I have the privilege of getting to know many UIS students each year, observing firsthand this learner-to-leader transformation that ultimately results in college graduates who contribute to their professions and their communities — human capital that serves the public good for Illinois and beyond.

I recently spent time with three UIS students, all seniors, each of whom has their own leadership lived story: Will Newton didn’t know what to expect a few years ago when he left Chicago to attend UIS and major in Political Science.

“It was rough at the beginning and I don’t think I was ready to live independently at first,” says Newton, “but now as a Student Ambassador working in Admissions, I’m helping other students like me make a successful transition to college.”

Newton recently started working as a communications intern for the Illinois Senate Republican staff.

He plans to become a college admissions counselor after graduation and may eventually go into public service.

Like many Chicagoland students, Newton traveled about 200 miles to attend UIS, but Maria Espinosa followed a much different — and more lengthy — path.

Espinosa is from Ibagué, a city about 2,600 miles southeast of Springfield in the heart of Colombia, South America.

A top performer on the UIS Women’s golf team, Espinosa graduated from high school at 16 and declined numerous Division I offers in favor of the then up-and-coming UIS Division II women’s golf program where she knew she could pursue ambitious goals in both academic studies and athletics.

“UIS — my teammates, coaches and faculty — have become my second family.” In addition to competing on the Prairie Stars women’s golf team, Espinosa is completing a rigorous Biology major with a minor in Public Health.

She worked with a UIS research team last summer in Ghana, West Africa, and is now applying to graduate schools with aspirations to earn a graduate degree and do medical research in microbiology and immunology.

Almost every day, I walk past “The Young Lawyer,” a beautiful Lincoln sculpture that was a gift to the UIS campus a few years ago. On the edge of the sculpture plaza is a stone with the following Lincoln quote: “You cannot fail if you resolutely determine that you will not.”

The quote always makes me think of the many resolutely determined UIS students I’ve known over the years, learners who have become leaders while earning their University of Illinois degree at UIS.

I’m proud of each one of them and grateful for the contributions they are making every day as alums and citizens. That’s leadership lived.

Read the entire column online.