Anthony Smith in a laboratory setting smiling and holding a glass bottle and dropper

Friday, June 9, 2017

From the biology lab to the computer lab, Northeastern Illinois University students are making a difference. Read the inspirational story of a star Biology student, find out about a computer coding program by Northeastern students for Chicago Public Schools students and much more!

Around the Commons

The surprise biologist

Anthony Smith (pictured above) likes to think of an organism like a finely tuned car. An automobile’s power-train control module—or main computer—acts as the brain to a central nervous system, interpreting signals and sending out responses. Smith could easily expand on the similarities between car computers and brains, but neither is his particular area of interest these days. Rather, Smith is focused on the use of nanomedicine to detect and treat the deadliest cancers at the cellular level. That’s not exactly the career goal you might expect from a man who earned his Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology just six years ago. Then again, Smith is not your average Biology major.

Students mentoring students

Tech giant Google has funded a grant proposal written by Computer Science majors Austin Leatham and Julien de Castelnau, resulting in a Google igniteCS award totaling $4,450. The Google igniteCS program proposal sought funding for a program in which undergraduate and graduate Northeastern students mentor underserved and underrepresented high school students by introducing them to computer science before entering college. “The high school students that we work with have the opportunity to experience high-level computer science topics while working alongside Northeastern student mentors,” Leatham said. “By sowing the seed of interest with this initial program among mentees and mentors, we will nurture and grow the relationship between our university and the community.” WGN visited the June 3 session for a story on the project.

Grooming future school leaders

Students Marcelo Costilla, Claudia Guerrero and Kerrin Staskawicz have earned internships with the Chicago Leadership Collaborative. The joint project between Chicago Public Schools and several universities provides one-year paid internships in CPS schools with a mentor principal as well as a mentor provided by Northeastern and an internship professor. During the course of the year, the intern essentially acts as an assistant principal and works to obtain status on the CPS principal eligibility list as well as secure an administration position after the internship or graduation.

A new scholarship

Northeastern alumna Patricia A. Justice has pledged to endow a new scholarship, called the Patricia A. Justice Scholarship, within the Daniel L. Goodwin College of Education. A 1972 graduate, Justice served as Northeastern’s Director of Alumni Affairs until 1985. “I hope others will view this as a vote of confidence in the way Northeastern continues to change lives, as it did for me,” said Justice, whose gift will count toward the Goodwin Gift Challenge. She retired from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2009 as the Executive Associate Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement. Currently she is an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership in the College of Education at Illinois and is studying to become a hospital chaplain.

A grant for health literacy

The Healthcare Foundation of Northern Lake County has awarded Northeastern a $25,000 grant to address health literacy for Lake County youth. The award will be used to fund a project titled Community-Based Approach to Improving Access to Healthcare via a Targeted Health Literacy Curriculum. The project, which will be administered by Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Athletics Associate Professor Jennifer Banas, is a partnership between Northeastern and Waukegan High School. It seeks to redesign the high school’s existing health literacy curriculum to better engage students and their families in developing health literacy, becoming self-advocates in gaining access to appropriate health care, and introducing youth to careers in health care.

To Spain and back

Senior Library Specialist Ellen Larrimore led a group of seven students and one parent on an educational trip to Spain. In Barcelona, the group joined students and faculty members from two other U.S. colleges and then traveled southwest by bus in a group of about 40. The tour explored Roman, Moorish and Christian architectural and cultural influences in Barcelona, Valencia, Granada (where they visited the Alhambra), the Costa del Sol area, Seville, Madrid, Toledo and the ancient Roman ruins in Merida. Larrimore offers these tours as a non-credit educational experience for students and others affiliated with Northeastern, and as a way to share her own love of travel.

And there’s more!

  • Northeastern will host a One Stop Enrollment Express from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. in Alumni Hall on June 20. Departments from across the University will come together to help students prepare for the summer and fall semesters.
  • Associate Professor of Economics Scott Hegerty visited Riga Technical University in Latvia from May 10-12. He delivered two guest lectures at the Faculty of Engineering Economics and Management, and also presented a paper at the International Conference on Economics and Management. Hegerty then served as a guest professor at the Institute of International Relations at the University of Warsaw from May 15-26, teaching a pair of two-week courses in economics.
  • Professor of Linguistics Richard Hallett has published a chapter, “Pragmeme(s) of Sympathy Cards in the Midwestern US,” in the book “The Pragmeme of Accommodation: The Case of Interaction around the Event of Death.”
  • College of Business and Management Dean Michael Bedell has been appointed to the Illinois CPA Society’s 2017-2018 Board of Directors.
  • The Gerontology program will host two open houses in the coming weeks: 3:30-5:30 p.m. June 23 in BBH 317 and 1-3 p.m. June 30 in BBH 317. RSVP to if you plan to attend.

In the media

Ready for ‘Raíces’

Ensemble Español Executive Director Jorge Perez and guitarist Thomas Kimball joined Dean Richards on WGN Radio to talk about the American Spanish Dance & Music Festival, which runs through June 24. Richards raved about his past experience with the Ensemble’s “Bolero” performance, calling it “the grandest” dance performance he has ever seen.” Hoy also posted a video of guitarist and singer Paco Fonta in its studio.

Spotlight on Iran

After a pair of deadly terrorist attacks in Iran’s capital city of Tehran, WBEZ invited Associate Professor of History Mateo Farzaneh to appear on “Worldview” to talk about the ramifications in Iran and the region.

Also in the media ...

  • The Chicago Tribune and See Chicago Dance gave glowing reviews of Ensemble Español’s performance in the grand finale of the Third Annual Stomping Grounds series.
  • The Daily Herald reported that Rich Kane (B.A. ’82 Business and Management) has been named a 2017 Top 100 ProAdvisor by Insightful Accountant.

To do

Six Flags Great America
The NEIU Alumni Association has invited alumni, students, faculty, staff, family and friends to Alumni and Family Day at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee on June 24. The ticket price is $60 and includes entrance into Great America and Hurricane Harbor, lunch buffet and bus transportation.

Mark your calendar!


The Nest

Spaces remain available in The Nest for the 2017-18 academic year. Whether you’re living in the residence hall or not, be sure to follow along with announcements, events and lots of photos on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

Do you have a story tip? Let the public relations office know!
Mike Hines, Director of Public Relations,, (773) 442-4240