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Northeastern Voices

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John and Eileen Kelly hold a photo of their daughter, Katie Kelly.

A life lived to the fullest

Katie Kelly arrived at Chicago Midway International Airport on a Sunday evening in January 2016. She was exhausted from the flight, but her spirits were high after her first trip to Las Vegas. Katie asked the airline for wheelchair assistance, then sat next to a group of women who clearly were members of a University of Nebraska sports team. She parked her carry-on suitcase packed with medical supplies and cheerfully called her father to let him know she had arrived safely.
Golden Eagle Welcome Day

An inspiration to give back

In 1965, Marge Csakai and Jim Blair took a Creative Writing class at Northeastern Illinois University. The teacher was none other than Pulitzer Prize winner Gwendolyn Brooks, who three years later also was appointed poet laureate of Illinois, but that exciting fact is a mere footnote in their family story. Four years after taking the class together, Marge and Jim were married—and each had earned their degrees. “It was quite an experience,” Jim said. “It was a confluence of important events in our lives.”
Shawn K. Woods

Finding fuel for the spark

Shawn K. Woods is a high-energy example of how a good influence on one life can reverberate through the lives of countless others. A sought-after speaker, trainer and coach—as well as an author and an entrepreneur—Woods is an expert on rising above challenges and is eager to pass the lesson on. Woods was raised with 10 siblings, and everyday life in a housing project on the West Side of Chicago was dominated by drugs, gangs and violence. “We lived on the dividing line between the Disciples and the Vice Lords,” Woods recalls. “I saw my first homicide when I was 6 years old.”


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