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Student Spotlight

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  • Abby smiles softly

    Abby Dizon | Determined to Inspire

    Senior Abby Dizon misses the warm, positive energy of the College of Education building most of all in these strange times. The positivity from her peers and instructors of present, all the way back to Kindergarten, have influenced her personally and professionally. When asked about her aspirations to teach in Chicago Public Schools as a Golden Apple Scholar, she replied, "I am determined to inspire students and provide them with a reason to be their best self every single day."

  • Abby Lynch

    Abby Lynch | "Equitable Opportunities Begin in Schools"

    "I want to be involved in shaping the youth, and I believe education is more than just standards and schooling."

  • Adhwita Gopi Selvan

    Adhwita Gopi Selvan | Building the Next Generation of Critical Thinkers

    Adhwita Gopi Selvan took a leap. She decided to leave her home on the East Coast and come to Illinois to be part of the very first cohort of Computer Science + Education students at the University of Illinois. Adhwita has long been interested in Educational Technology, even starting her own non-profit to help students become interested and successful in STEM. We talked to her about her first year in the program, what she liked about her first year at Illinois, and her goals for the rest of her academic career in CS + Ed.

  • Alexis Friedman

    Alexis Frieman | Nothin' But Love for Education

    When asked about what she enjoys most about the College of Education, Alexis' reply: the building, the courses, the people, what's not to love?!

  • Allie Gilbert

    Allie Gilbert | Realizing Her Passion for Equitable Education

    Senior Allie Gilbert has truly made the most of her student experience while at Illinois. From her involvement in Epsilon Delta and Student Alumni Ambassadors to doing a pandemic-shortened study abroad semester in Spain, she's explored many opportunities to learn where her true passions lie. Now, she waits to hear back about her Fulbright Scholarship application—staying true to continuing to learn about herself, the world, and how to provide equitable education to her future students.

  • Amanda Navarro | Education is Powerful

    Middle Grades Education junior, Amanda Navarro knows that education has the power to change the world— and that's why she's here.

    "Since I was younger, it was the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to give back, whether it was through my community or surrounding ones, but I knew I wanted to do it through education."

  • Amy Heinrichs

    Amy Heinrichs | A Non-Traditional Journey To Finding Her Passion

    "After working with children in many aspects I realized this was my passion and wanted to do."

  • ECE student Ana Garcia

    Ana Garcia | Teaching to Fulfill Part of Her Purpose

    Ana Garcia is a Chicago native who knows that teaching young children and serving in a low-income community is part of her life's purpose.

  • Anisa Chatman

    Anisa Chatman | Creating Positive Change

    Anisa Chatman is a sophomore Learning and Education Studies major.

  • Aranza Rico | Kindness Counts

    Junior Aranza Rico is feeling the love from the College of Education family. These days are hard for us all, and kindness can go a long way. Aranza says the staff is "Very helpful and friendly. They care about students' mental health, especially during these times." The university has a number of mental health opportunities and resources available to those in need. 


  • Audrey Kermgard

    Audrey Kermgard | Educators Shape Worldviews and Values

    Audrey Kermgard is our featured undergraduate student in this week's student spotlight.

  • Audrey Wong

    Audrey Wong | "I want to be one of those teachers."

    Audrey Wong is passionate about two things: biology and teaching. She decided to be a teacher after being inspired by her own high school teachers. Now at Illinois, Audrey is involved in research and has her sights set on bringing her love for biology to a new generation of students.

  • Candace Hsu | Born To Teach

    Candace knew her purpose in life was to be a teacher from the age of seven. As a senior majoring in elementary education and minoring in speech and hearing science, she loves connecting what she learns from one field of study to another. She hopes to create a future classroom in which her students can walk in with a smile and leave feeling encouraged and empowered.

  • Claire Follis | Fighting Education Inequality

    Learning & Education Studies major Claire Follis is passionate about education inequality. She believes that a child's quality of education should not be dependant on the zip code they live in. That defining principle is what motivates her in both her research and professional work. 

  • Claudia stands in front of a row of brightly lit lamp posts, smiling.

    Claudia Kobylarczyk | Paying it Forward

    Senior Claudia Koblarczyk fell in love with education through her experience as a tutor. Her adoration of literature, passion as a mentor, and guidance from educators and peers has set her on the path to success. Now, she's paying it forward with plans to return to her alma mater, Reavis High School, as an English Teacher.

  • Cyrus Murray

    Cyrus Murray | Changing Lanes

    Cyrus Murray is a junior English major, minoring in Secondary Education minor. 

  • Danielle Golob | A Passion For SPED

    Following in her mother's footsteps, Special Education senior Danielle Golob wanted to pursue education as early as second grade. She says that getting to experience education both from her own schooling and through her mother's eyes provided her with a different perspective, solidifying her passion for education. After graduation, Danielle hopes to teach special education. 

  • Dante Studamire

    Danté Studamire | Here to Support First-year Students

    Danté Studamire knows the value of sounding boards in life. In his relatively short time here at Illinois, he can already point to a handful of mentors and faculty who are helping shape his goals, vision, and future academic pursuits. (Not to mention his Ph.D. dissertation!) This year, the Office of Minority Student Affairs has appointed Danté to serve as a mentor to College of Education first-year students who are finding their way. He's part of the College's academic advising team, and is excited to meet Education students and learn about their ideas and passions.

  • David stands head to toe in Illini orange

    David McCormack | "Everyone Has Dignity"

    Senior David McCormack has enjoyed his time on campus with involvement in Best Buddies, the Newman Center, and intramural sports. Most of all, he cherishes his experiences in his chosen field of Special Education. He recalls the beginnings of his affinity for special education back in high school, "I decided that I'd want to follow this passion and start to devote my life to it." Now, David is looking forward to starting his professional career as a Special Educator in a classroom of his own at Lincoln Jr. High this fall.

  • David Pollak | With Teaching in His Blood

    Senior Elementary Education major David Pollak can't remember a time growing up where he didn't want to be a teacher. With an entire family made up almost exclusively of educators, he's convinced it was always in his blood. 

  • Devon Jackson | A Future In ESL

    After graduating in 2021 from Middle Grades Education with a minor in Literacy and ESL, Devon aspires to pursue a career as an on-set teacher in the entertainment industry.

  • Diamond Dadej | Honor the Past, Better the Future

    Senior and history/secondary education major Diamond Dadej is teaching us a lot more than history in this week’s blog. Read on for a lesson in learning from those around you, pride in where you come from, determination in where you are going, and one very important reminder to carry with you throughout the semester;
    “Nothing is impossible for an Illini.”

  • Ellen Reckamp | A Semester Abroad

    Ellen Reckamp just started her junior year as an English major, Secondary Education minor. She always knew she wanted a career that worked hands-on with other people, and with education she could really help students grow and feel empowered.

  • Emily Crosswell

    Emily Crosswell | A Future Serving Students and Her Country

    Emily Crosswell is involved all over campus and Central Illinois. The sophomore from Watseka teaches with IGlobal, has studied abroad, and spends some time with the Illinois Army National Guard. She's taking her life experience and passion for people into her future classroom. Read more about Emily in this week's Student Spotlight.

  • Emily poses for a selfie

    Emily Manzo | "Thrive in Your Chosen Path"

    Halfway through her junior year, Emily Manzo has already taught and studied abroad in Costa Rica, conducted research under three professors, and led discussions in EDUC 101, all while working toward her degree in Learning and Education Studies-Educational Equality Cultural Understanding, and minoring in Spanish and Latinx Studies. Having savored all of these experiences and more, Emily misses her time with friends at La Casa Cultural the most from her pre-pandemic days on campus.

  • Erin Dickett

    Erin Dickett | Valuing Students' Unfiltered Cultural Perspectives

    Middle school can be tough, but Erin Dickett says the College's new IGlobal Program helps students connect with each other around the globe. Which is inspiring for everyone.

  • Erin enjoys a summer afternoon on the water.

    Erin Molay | Ready To Explore

    Erin Molay is determined to give her future students the most authentic and enriching experience a classroom can offer. That's why after she has completed her studies as an Elementary Education major and Psychology minor, Erin plans to travel the world and explore the cultures and communities abroad. When asked about her time with the College of Education, Erin said, "I love the close-knit community atmosphere!"

  • Genesis Rivera | "The Key To Our Liberation"

    Freshman Genesis Rivera experienced her formative years at a low-income Black and Brown elementary school in Chicago. From a young age, she noticed her peers lose their passion for education after experiencing the traumas of family and friends falling victim to gun violence and incarceration. Genesis is determined to break this vicious cycle with the best tool she knows — teaching. "I want to be able to tell my students that education and knowledge is powerful." She says, "It’s the key to our liberation and will help us give back to our communities. My students will not be another statistic."

  • Grace smiles with a glass of ice coffee

    Grace McCoy| Just The Beginning

    Freshman Grace McCoy is starting her college journey under unusual circumstances, but that's not stopping her ambition, optimism, and drive! Grace has always seen the value in education, and through the support of the College of Education community, she is pursuing a degree in Elementary Education. Grace says, "Any job in this profession would be rewarding and would keep me on my toes, so that I continue to feel that I am doing something worthwhile for my students."

  • Grace Schlichter

    Grace Schlichter | Helping People & Inspiring Students

    Grace Schlichter is our featured undergraduate student in this week's student spotlight.

  • Grace Seiffert | A Home Away From Home

    Special Education sophomore Grace Seiffert has always had a passion and talent for working with children; so naturally, pursuing education was the next step. While on campus and away from family, Grace says the College of Education has really become her home away from home. 

  • Gwen smiles from her dorm

    Gwen Cox | Fueling the Next Generation

    It's easier than ever for our vision to be fogged when thinking about future plans in a time of such unpredictability. Freshman Gwen Cox understands that the importance of education is one constant she can count on. "The next generation of students have a big impact on our future, and to have to opportunity to fuel them to have big goals and inspire them to keep learning would be an amazing experience," she says.

  • Haley Allen | Learning Along The Way

    Despite all of her research, trainig and studies, senior Haley Allen still felt uneasy about taking over a classroom of her own. That is, until her mentors in the College of Education taught her a very valuable lesson; you will always be learning along the way. Haley says, "Because of my instructors, I now feel prepared for the many unknowns that come with teaching young children."

  • Ian Copple

    Ian Copple | Loving the 'ah-ha!' Moments

    When Ian Copple came to the University of Illinois, he knew he loved math. It took until his junior year to realize he also loved sharing his understanding with others. That's when he transferred into the Secondary Education minor program.

  • Ivy Moore

    Ivy Moore | Engaged In Her Community

    "What I love about campus is that there is always something new to try."

  • Jacalyn Wingerter | Inspired by Educators

    Everyone has a special educator that has inspired them in some way. Senior Jacalyn Wingerter draws inspiration from her English professor, Professor Pollock. She says, "He's the most enthusiastic English professor and really knows how to make any type of literature come to life!" Jacalyn hopes to bring the same enthusiasm to an English classroom of her own after graduating. This week, tell an educator in your life how they inspire you!


  • Jack Josellis | Future Fulbright

    Jack Josellis, a history major and secondary education minor spent a semester in Spain as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant.

  • Jaclyn Wittrock

    Jaclyn Wittrock | Helping All Young Minds Grow

    "I love learning how young minds develop and better ways to teach every kind of learner!"

  • Jasmine Castillo

    Jasmine Castillo | "Everyone has a voice, and as a teacher I will encourage each student to use theirs."

    Jasmine Castillo, a History major with Secondary Education and Spanish minors, Illinois is our student spotlight this week.

  • Jasmine Wong | The News-Gazette Teacher of the Week

    Elementary Education alumna Jasmine Wong was named The News-Gazette's Teacher of the Week. Jasmine is a third-grade gifted-classroom teacher at Champaign's Booker T. Washington Elementary. 

  • Jerny Walls

    Jerny Walls | Interested in How Disparities Impact the Lives of Students and Teachers

    "I love how supportive my classmates are, they really have helped me stay motivated during my college career."

  • Jill Kartsounes

    Jill Kartsounes | Being a Leader

    For Jill Kartsounes, being the leader came naturally. As a child, she always wanted to be the one in charge. The feeling of leading made her dream of her future classroom and career as a teacher. Now she's here at the College of Education, working to become an elementary teacher. 

  • Julia Rhodes | Learning in Italy

    Elementary Education sophomore Julia Rhodes is spending her Spring semester studying in Verona, Italy; and she thinks everyone should study abroad, even if only for a week-long program.

  • Julie Ross

    Julie Ross | Passionate About the Next Generation of Learners

    As the 2021-2022 school year kicks off, we introduce you to Julie Ross who is thrilled to be back on this bustling campus this fall! She's even more excited to one day lead her own classroom of crazy busy middle school students. Learn more about why Julie loves Education at Illinois!

  • Kapri's graduation portrait

    Kapri Dowdell | Advocate and Inspire

    As her senior year comes to a close, Special Education major Kapri Dowdell has her eyes set on her future as an educator. After graduation, Kapri is heading home to Chicago as an elementary school teacher in Chicago Public Schools, with plans to return to school for a Master's in Administration in a few years. When asked about her dream job, Kapri stated, "I want to be a principal or have a higher power in our education system to advocate for our students with special needs for academic, emotional, and mental support."

  • Kate (left) and Meghan (right) McCurdy in Verona, Italy

    Kate & Meghan McCurdy | Born to Teach

    Kate and Meghan McCurdy are both Middle Grades Education majors with concentrations in mathematics from Orland Park, IL.

  • Katie Barr | IEA Student of the Year

    The Illinois Education Association has named the University of Illinois’ Katie Barr as Student of the Year. Barr is currently a junior in the College of Education, majoring in Middle Grades Education with concentrations in Literacy, ESL, and Spanish, while also pursuing a minor in Spanish.

  • Kay Tetlak

    Kay Tetlak | Connecting Students to Their Community

    As a Chicago Public Schools alum, Kay Tetlak wants to give back to the school district that provided so many resources to her.

  • Kenna Ashton

    Kenna Ashton | Inspired to Have a Positive Impact on Students

    "I love how close the College of Education is and how much support is provided for students."

  • Kennedy Record | Shaping Future World Changers

    Sophomore Kennedy Record is living life as an Illinois student to the fullest. She loves cheering on the Fighting Illini, checking out the local coffee shops, and most of all, she loves her work with children with disabilities. Kennedy says, "I desire to be supportive of children who feel voiceless, to be someone who will fight for their needs."