Ana Castillo recites a poem while wearing regalia.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Northeastern Illinois University’s Alumni Association honored several graduates, with celebrated writer, activist and scholar Ana Castillo being named this year’s Distinguished Alumnus. Plans were announced this week to celebrate August and December 2020 graduates, plus the University announced three new DFI Fellows. Read about all this and more in Noteworthy at Northeastern.

Around the Commons

Alumni Awards

Northeastern honored celebrated poet, essayist, activist, novelist and scholar Ana Castillo with the Distinguished Alumnus Award during the annual Golden Gala and Alumni Awards. The Distinguished Alumnus Award is the highest honor Northeastern bestows upon alumni. As is tradition for winners of the Distinguished Alumnus Award, Castillo (B.A. ’75 Art) will deliver remarks to the graduates during the December 2020 Commencement. This year’s Gala raised more than $127,000 for Northeastern students. 

Virtual Commencement

Northeastern will honor the August and December 2020 graduates with a series of three virtual Commencement ceremonies, providing a fun, innovative and safe platform to celebrate the achievements of our graduates. The ceremonies will launch concurrently at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 13. Graduates should pay close attention to their NEIU email accounts during the coming weeks for more information regarding the ceremony and what they need to submit in order to participate.

DFI Fellows

Northeastern Illinois University is hosting three Diversifying Higher Education Faculty in Illinois (DFI) fellows during the 2020-21 academic year. This year’s Northeastern fellows are Paula Andrea Sanchez Garcia, Chemistry; Karen Guadarrama, Higher Education Leadership; and April Walker-Starr (B.A. ’15 Social Work), Social Work. This State of Illinois program is designed to increase the number of minority, full-time, tenure-track faculty and staff who work in the state’s public and private colleges and universities. 

Undocumented Cookbook

Undocumented Student Resources, in collaboration with Undocumented, Resilient and Organized (URO), invites Northeastern immigrants of any generation and allies to share cultural recipes and memories of what makes the dish special on a personal level. Selected recipes will be added to a digital “Undocumented Cookbook by NEIU Immigrants.” The Undocumented Cookbook is a borrowed idea from the national immigrant advocacy organization United We Dream. Just like this organization, the idea is to celebrate immigrants through one of the things that brings people close together: food. Northeastern students, faculty and staff are all encouraged to submit recipes and memories by Oct. 30. Questions can be directed to Luvia Moreno,  

Voting information

Three Northeastern locations will be used as polling places for the national election. Early voting has already started at El Centro, which will host early voting in its lobby through Election Day, Nov. 3. The times are 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; and 6 a.m.-7 p.m. on Election Day. The Main Campus will host early voting in Alumni Hall from 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Oct. 28 through Oct. 30. The Jacob H. Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies will host voting in its lower level from 6 a.m.-7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3. Mail-in ballots for Chicago voters can also be returned to secure drop boxes at all early voting locations. Northeastern’s COVID-19 Task Force is in regular communication with the Chicago Board of Elections to determine procedures that will keep the University community, election judges and general public safe.

And there’s more!

  • Open registration for Spring 2021 begins Oct. 24.
  • Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) faculty member, graduate advisor and alumna Gina Johnson Wells was the featured speaker at the Illinois TESOL and Bilingual Education (ITBE)'s Fall Workshop on Oct. 17. Wells (M.A. ’17 Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language), who serves as Advocacy Chair on the ITBE Board of Directors, delivered a presentation titled "Advocacy and Equity in Unpredictable Times," in which she detailed the policies that affect teaching and learning English in ESL and Bilingual classrooms nationwide. The presentation also offered the attendees suggestions for ways to advocate for English language learners, their families and themselves while navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Assistant Professor of English Ryan Poll delivered a paper titled “The Curious Case of Black Manta: The New 52 Aquaman and White Supremacy” at the 2020 Midwest Popular Culture Association Conference, which took place virtually from Oct. 7-10.
  • Northeastern’s library is seeking student submissions for “Sheltering in Place: NEIU Archives COVID-19 Documentation Project.” 
  • Stage Center Theatre (SCT) is now accepting submissions or potential projects for a month-long Digital Theatre Festival for Social Justice to take place Oct. 15-Nov. 17. SCT welcomes submissions from all members of the NEIU community throughout the dates of the festival.

To do

TRIO Student Support Services: Leading and Learning Week 

TRIO Student Support Services invites all Northeastern students, staff and faculty to participate in Leading and Learning Week, Oct. 26-30. The week’s theme is "Preparing students for success in the virtual landscape." This free five-day academic and professional development opportunity will feature presentations and workshops facilitated by NEIU faculty, staff, students and supporters. It is an opportunity to share knowledge that enhances student success in higher education and in life. 

Uplift Me NEIU

Undocumented Student Resources, in partnership with URO, has worked with undocumented students and allies to create a Uplift ME NEIU, a collaborative Spotify playlist to help the Northeastern community get through these stressful times. The playlist has a wide range of genres, but is full of feel-good tracks. Students and allies can continue to add songs to the playlist. Tracks can be in any language, any genre and do not have to be about immigration. They should, however, be uplifting and help spread the message that “you are not alone, you matter, and you belong.” Questions can be directed to Luvia Moreno,  

Scavenger Hunts

  • LGBTQ+ History Month Scavenger Hunt, through Oct. 31. Celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month with a virtual scavenger hunt! The University community is invited to participate for a chance to win a variety of prizes. To play, download the Scavify app to your mobile device and search for “LGBTQ+ History Month.” New tasks will be added daily.
  • Campus Recreation Scavenger Hunt. Throughout the fall semester, individuals who complete the scavenger hunt by sending pictures of the 10 things on the list to can win a prize! Questions can be sent to

Coming next week!

In the media

  • CBS Chicago reported Mayor Lori Lightfoot cast her ballot for the 2020 election at Northeastern’s El Centro location during early voting.  

Student Support Spotlight

Study Spaces

For the Fall 2020 semester, the Student Union and Ronald Williams Library offer students study spaces by reservation only. These spaces provide access to Wi-Fi, computers and copiers/scanner/printers. A color copier/scanner/printer will be available in the Ronald Williams Library only. Students may reserve a two-hour block for use of either the Student Union or Ronald Williams Library. Please note that there are limited spaces available in each building. The Ronald Williams Library continues to offer Grab & Go services for physical library items.

Student Counseling Services

Students are welcome to contact NEIU’s Student Counseling Services to set up an appointment to talk either by phone or their online platform for teletherapy. To access NEIU’s Student Counseling Services, call (773) 442-4650 or send an email to The hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. After hours, students may also reach a counselor for more urgent consultation by calling the main number and pressing “2” during the outgoing message.

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