Meet your 2011 University of Illinois Homecoming Court!
Born and raised in the Chicagoland area, Matt Abtahi is a 2008 graduate of Maine South High School in Park Ridge and is now studying integrative biology at the University of Illinois. As an Illini, his involvement in campus organizations has ranged from the Rube Goldberg Society to the American Medical Student Association to serving as sergeant-at-arms for the Alpha Alpha Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity. Currently the vice president of student engagement for the Student Alumni Ambassadors of the University of Illinois Alumni Association, the UI senior still finds time to wear his orange and blue every day and to show up to every football game to cheer on his fellow Illini. Often the one heard yelling “I-L-L” on the Quad on Friday mornings or singing the “Illinois Loyalty” song around campus, Abtahi takes great pride in being an Illini and will forever hold his Alma Mater close to his heart. Go Illini!
University of Illinois senior Taylor Beale is majoring in philosophy with a minor in Islamic world studies. She serves as the Black Greek Council president and is a member of Sigma Gamma Rho sorority. Beyond the walls of campus, Beale enjoys volunteering at the local Douglass Community Center as well as mentoring young women in the Champaign-Urbana school districts. She holds an internship in the NASPA Undergraduate Fellows Program, with a focus in student affairs and higher education. In addition to planning on graduate school to obtain a master’s degree in higher education, Beale looks forward to joining the U.S. Air Force as an Arabic language translator. She is excited to represent the University as a member of the Homecoming Court, as the campus has truly contributed to her current success as a student leader. As a member of the Court, Beale is honored to represent her college, course of study, sorority and hometown.
Josh Brickman is studying civil engineering with a primary concentration in structural engineering and a secondary concentration in geotechnical engineering. The University of Illinois senior has been involved with the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts since his freshman year; he served as a board member for two years, and recently became the first student on the Krannert Center Advancement Council. Brickman is also a member of the Chi Epsilon Civil Engineering Honors Society, the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity and the Campus Honors program. He is honored to be a part of the 2011 Homecoming Court and would like to congratulate his fellow court members. In addition, Brickman would like to thank his professors for their tutelage and mentorship, his family for all their support and love, and his friends for helping to create so many wonderful memories at the University of Illinois.
Being the third child of two Illini alumni to attend the University of Illinois, Anna Czapar has strong ties to the Urbana-Champaign campus. A bioengineering major, she hopes to be able to contribute to biomedical research as a physician scientist. In addition to strong family ties, Czapar is proud to be representing U of I because of the many opportunities the University has offered her. The UI senior has taken a wide variety of interesting classes, participated in many different extracurricular and volunteer activities, and even had the opportunity for exciting international travel. Through University-sponsored trips, Czapar has traveled to Curaçao to study coral reefs, and will be going to India during winter break to design a product to alleviate the needs of those living in poverty. These opportunities and the amazing people she has met make her feel lucky to be attending the University of Illinois.
Human Development and Family Studies
Hannah Ehrenberg is majoring in human development and family studies, where as an undergraduate researcher in the Department of Human and Community Development she studies mothers’ and children’s experiences with separation and divorce. Currently the University of Illinois senior is the Urbana campus student representative on the UI Board of Trustees. Ehrenberg has held the positions of secretary and president of the Alpha Alpha Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity, the largest chapter in the nation, as well as served in the Illinois Student Senate as a two-time senator and the vice president external in the 2010-11 academic year. During winter break, she volunteered with fellow Illini in South Africa and last summer worked as an operations coordinator at Teach for America in Los Angeles. Ehrenberg is honored to serve on the Homecoming Court and is grateful to the University of Illinois for opening so many doors for her and bringing many great friends and academics into her life.
Lauren Eiten is majoring in political science with a minor in the Environmental Fellows Program. For the past year, she has been serving as Panhellenic Council president, an experience which has been the highlight of her college career. Her other campus activities involve her sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta; lllini Dems; and working at Campus Recreation. The University of Illinois senior will graduate in December and continue her education at the U of I in the Civic Leadership Program. She is honored to be on the 2011 Homecoming Court and represent her University.
Agricultural and Consumer Economics
While at the University of Illinois, Landon Frye has built upon his passion for agriculture by majoring in agricultural and consumer economics. He has held various leadership positions with ACES Council, ExplorACES and Nabor House fraternity, and he is president of the UI Alumni Association’s Student Alumni Ambassadors. The UI senior has had the opportunity to work for Monsanto Co. and Farm Credit Services of Illinois and hopes to use his education to positively impact the U.S. agriculture industry. Frye is thrilled to represent Illinois as part of the 2011 Homecoming Court and has been greatly humbled by all of the experiences that have allowed him to inspire Students Now to become Illini Forever!
Double major: Crop Sciences/Technical Systems Management
Growing up on a family farm, Wayne Gehrke enjoyed the best of both suburban and rural life. As agriculture has always been something he has been passionate about, he decided to pursue that passion by majoring in crop sciences. Since then, the University of Illinois senior added another major in technical systems management. A member of FarmHouse fraternity, Gehrke has been active in the ACES Student Council, the Field and Furrow Club and many other organizations while at Illinois. He is excited to be a member of the Homecoming Court simply because he has gained a lot during his time at Illinois, and he is honored to represent the students of his University whenever and wherever he can.
A University of Illinois senior advertising major, Drew Harris is involved in Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.; the American Advertising Federation; C.O.R.E.; and the Department of Advertising Student Advisory Board. During the summer of 2011, he earned a marketing internship working at ADP, a Fortune 500 company. Harris is excited to be part of the 2011 Homecoming Court because it gives him the opportunity to join a long-standing tradition and exemplify the integrity that comes with representing the University of Illinois.
Double major: Materials Science and Engineering/Molecular and Cellular Biology
Kenny Long is pursuing a joint degree in materials science and engineering, and molecular and cellular biology and is proud and excited to be a part of the time-honored tradition of Homecoming at the University of Illinois. The UI senior serves as president of Engineers Without Borders, Global Development Council and Honors Student Council, and is a member of the Board of Governors for the University YMCA. Over the past year and a half, Long has managed the successful construction of a water distribution system for a village in rural Cameroon, West Africa, and hopes to continue working on international issues after graduation, when he will enroll in a joint M.D./Ph.D. program to prepare him for a career in applied medical research.
Lake Bluff, Illinois
A general engineering major and a member of the Hoeft Technology and Management Program, Emily Meyer has demonstrated her leadership as the Technology and Management Student Board president and as the internal vice president for Engineers Without Borders. The University of Illinois senior has supported the philanthropic efforts of her sorority, Alpha Phi, and its foundation which contributes to heart disease research, and has worked on water projects around the world, including those in Cameroon and South Dakota. In addition, Meyer has volunteered in Piura, Peru, with her church parish and has mentored both first-year engineering students and children in local schools in the Champaign-Urbana area. Meyer is honored to be a part of the 2011 Homecoming Court, as it is the perfect ending to her experience at Illinois, and she could not be happier to celebrate this Homecoming tradition with all who call themselves Fighting Illini.
Laura Myers is a University of Illinois senior in community health with a focus in health education and health administration. The president of Hip-Notic Dance Team, she is a member and academic honors certificate holder in the Mannie L. Jackson Illinois Academic Enrichment and Leadership Program. Myers has presented at the fourth annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, where she studied health disparities among minority women; as a result, she will be credited in The Handbook of Race-Ethnicity and Gender in Psychology. Intending to obtain a master’s degree in public health after graduation, Myers is proud to receive the honor of serving on Homecoming Court. Illinois has a rich tradition of pride and spirit, and she is grateful to have the opportunity to embody that during this festive time.
A University of Illinois senior majoring in accountancy, Frank Niu serves in the Illinois Student Senate as treasurer and chairman of the financial affairs committee. As an ISS senator, he believes his representation is an important means by which student opinion is delivered to the administration of the University of Illinois and to the local, state and the federal governments. In the College of Business, Niu is involved in several organizations, including the Council of the Presidents and Beta Alpha Psi Honor Society. Born in Liaoning, China, he is excited to be one of the few international students in the University’s history to be part of Homecoming Court.
Elk Grove Village, Illinois
Caroline Pahl is graduating in May with a major in broadcast journalism and a minor in French. From volunteering for Alternative Spring Break to reporting for The Daily Illini, she has been involved in a variety of activities while at Illinois. Pahl helped launch the student-run television show called “JamSession,” serving as its first executive producer; the University of Illinois senior currently interns for UI-7, the public access educational channel, where she covers student and faculty achievements on campus. Pahl’s campus experiences have led to internships in Washington D.C., and Florida; this year, she won a reporting competition that allowed her to represent the University on a trip to Japan. Pahl thanks all of her professors, advisers and peers who have inspired her to be the best she can be. She is honored to be a part of the Homecoming Court, proud to be an Illini and grateful for the opportunity to study at the University of Illinois.
Double major: Communication/ Spanish
Sara Pessimisis will graduate in May with a double major in communication and Spanish. During her time at the University of Illinois, she has served as president of Orthodox Christian Fellowship, vice president of development for Panhellenic Council and as a sister in Alpha Gamma Delta sorority. Additionally, the UI senior has been a Sunday School teacher at Three Hierarchs Greek Orthodox Church, as well as a volunteer at the local Salt and Light Ministry. Pessimisis is honored to have been selected for the 2011 Homecoming Court and thanks all of her thought-provoking professors, supportive advisers and wonderful peers for making her undergraduate years at the University of Illinois rewarding and memorable.
Born and raised in Forsyth, Illinois, where she attended Maroa-Forsyth schools, Chloe Pistorius is now a University of Illinois senior majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in communication. At her sorority, Alpha Delta Pi, she served as the Panhellenic delegate and currently is the house ministry leader; in addition, Pistorius is involved in Greek Intervarsity and is a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Order of Omega Honors fraternities. A fourth-year member of Illini Pride, she attends football and basketball games as part of Block I and Orange Krush, and twice participated in the Illibuck exchange between the Illinois and Ohio State football teams. A golfer in her free time, Pistorius interned with CBS Sports and traveled with the PGA Tour this past summer. She is honored to represent the University of Illinois in the long-running tradition of Homecoming.
Derrick Rhodes is studying agricultural education with a concentration in leadership education. Born and raised in Chicago, he currently holds the office of Region V undergraduate vice president for Minorities in Agricultural, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS). The University of Illinois senior, who loves to travel and meet new people, has greatly enjoyed his time at the University of Illinois, which has made such experiences possible. One day he hopes to become a high school athletics director, as the desire to share experiences and show youth a road to success is deeply engraved in his heart. Being a member of the 2011 Homecoming Court is the icing on the cake of an undergraduate career that has proved fundamental in forming the person he is today.
Double major: Political Science/Communication
Meghan Schaffer is a University of Illinois senior majoring in political science and communication with a minor in business. Currently serving as a Graf Intern for the Illinois Leadership Center, she is a member of the Student Alumni Ambassadors of the University of Illinois Alumni Association, and of Illinois Connection, a UIAA advocacy group striving to obtain support for higher education. A former resident adviser to the Garner LEADS Living Learning Community, she continues to participate in activities hosted by the LEADS community and others within University Housing. Schaffer, who enjoys engaging with students, alumni and the campus community, is still exploring career options but is considering attending graduate school for a master’s degree in student affairs or higher education administration. In her spare time, she enjoys supporting her two favorite sports teams: the Chicago White Sox and the Fighting Illini.
North Woodmere, New York
A broadcast journalism major, Spencer Turkin hosts the sports-talk radio show “Illini Drive at 5,” serves as a student ambassador for the College of Media and broadcasts games on the Big Ten Network Student U. The University of Illinois senior is also a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity and the student coordinator of Ebertfest. This past summer, Turkin completed a research and statistics internship with MLB Network; prior internships took place at WICD-TV in Champaign and the New York Police Department. Upon graduation, Turkin hopes to pursue a career in play-by-play announcing. As a member of the Homecoming Court, he is honored to represent the University of Illinois in the areas of academic achievement, campus involvement and Illini pride. Turkin would like to thank his fellow students, professors and advisers who have made Champaign-Urbana his home away from home.
University of Illinois senior Nick Urish studies crop sciences. As president of FarmHouse fraternity, he has worked to involve its 50 members more deeply with the Urbana community and with the University’s clubs and organizations. A third-generation attendee of the University of Illinois, Urish has grown up a huge fan not only of its sports teams but also of its agricultural programs. Coming from a family farm, he knows the importance of agriculture in the state of Illinois and has worked extensively to promote UI programs as well as agriculture across the United States. He believes he represents what it means to be a University of Illinois student and is proud to be part of the 2011 Homecoming Court.
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2010 Homecoming Court