Three mugs lie on a white sheet.

Friday, December 18, 2020

What a year it’s been! We end 2020 with some happy news. Two Northeastern Illinois University sisters are getting national attention for their Etsy shop, an assistant professor co-created a pandemic-safe art exhibit, and the University earned a grant to support Rehabilitation Counseling students. Let’s put a bow on 2020 with this week’s edition of Noteworthy at Northeastern!

Around the Commons

Stellar sisters

When alumna Sylwia Zalinska (B.A. ’18 Psychology) and her sister, Aneta (B.S. Marketing, expected Fall ’20), weren’t able to find that “perfect gift” for a friend, the former University Honors Program students turned their frustration and education into a creative opportunity. Two years since its founding, the sisters’ online store, SilkAndScales, has been featured on a national talk show and sold out an entire line of products this holiday season. “We thought about closing our shop when the pandemic hit because we didn’t know if customers would be concerned regarding the safety of receiving hand-painted and packaged products. What we’re seeing is people are buying more online for gift-giving,” Aneta said. “When you love what you do, the customers can feel that."

Art of the future

Assistant Professor of Biology Beth Reinke has co-created “Artificial Outlook,” a pandemic-safe, walkable art show along a stretch of Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. The exhibit features storefront installations by Reinke and Katelyn Patton, a Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist, and considers how humanity plays a large role in the ways Earth’s climate is changing. “It is only going to become increasingly important to be talking about climate change as its consequences become more and more visible,” Reinke said. “However, rather than take the dystopian doom-and-gloom approach, Katelyn and I chose to jump ahead and assume that scientists had dealt with the most pressing issues.” The exhibit runs through March 31.

Counseling grant

Northeastern has earned a five-year U.S. Rehabilitation Services Administration Long-Term Training Grant totaling $975,175 that will support students in the Department of Counselor Education’s Rehabilitation Counseling graduate program. This is the fourth time Northeastern has received this grant. “There is a nationwide need for trained rehabilitation counselors,” Program Director Craig Johnston said. “With the number of people with disabilities continuing to increase each year, I do not anticipate the need for people in this field to go away any time soon.” Those interested in applying for this grant must complete a graduate admission application for the M.A. Rehabilitation Counseling program. There is a separate application for grant funding that students may complete after they’ve been admitted. New applicants can begin their course of study as soon as Summer 2021.

Virtual commencement ceremonies

Northeastern honored the May, August and December 2020 graduates on Dec. 13 with a series of six virtual Commencement ceremonies, providing a fun, innovative and safe platform to celebrate the achievements of the graduates. The ceremonies are available to watch on

And there’s more!

  • Northeastern’s Winter Recess for students begins Dec. 15. Spring classes begin Jan. 11, 2021.
  • SEEDS Literary and Visual Arts Journal is accepting submissions now through Jan. 25 for the Spring 2021 issue. 
  • The Student Government Association is seeking Senators and Council of Clubs Representatives. Students interested in these positions should complete the SGA Interest Form.
  • Northeastern’s library is seeking student submissions for “Sheltering in Place: NEIU Archives COVID-19 Documentation Project.” All current Northeastern students as well as alumni who were students during the Spring and Summer 2020 terms are encouraged to submit pieces to the archive. 
  • Northeastern’s student media organizations are currently recruiting students. Any students interested in participating can fill out the NEIU Student Media Interest Form. Additionally, the Northeastern Programming Board and Student Government Association are hiring student workers. Students interested in any of these opportunities can contact Student Media Coordinator Dennis Sagel at for more information.

To do

MLK Day of Service

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and his commitment to diversity, inclusion and serving communities, Student Leadership Development (SLD) is asking the NEIU community to volunteer to record themselves reading a culturally diverse children's book. These videos will be released on MLK Day, Jan. 18, 2021, for kids to watch on their day off from school. If you would be willing to videotape yourself reading a children's picture book, please complete the MLK Day of Service form. If our volunteers don't already have a book, SLD will purchase a book and have it delivered to the volunteer.  Questions and suggestions for diverse children's books (preK-3rd grade level), can be directed to Rae Joyce Baguilat at

In the media

Forester of the Year

The Chicago Region Trees Initiative (CRTI) has honored Geography and Environmental Studies Instructor Robyn Flakne with the Forester of the Year Golden Shovel Award, a CRTI Urban Forestry Award reserved for the most dedicated forestry professionals. She is receiving this award for her work as the Natural Resources Manager at the Village of Glenview and also as an instructor at Northeastern. Flakne’s award has been reported by the Daily Herald, Patch and the Village of Glenview.

Also in the media …

  • WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight” reported that Chicago Public Schools will expand its tuition reimbursement program to fill special education positions. Northeastern is one of the four universities included in this program.

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