WIU Biology Alumnus Appears in LEGO Form

By Kolette Herndon
University Relations Student Writer

Western Illinois University alumnus Aleshia Kenney, who received her master’s degree in biology in 2004, was recently turned into LEGO form through the concept of “LEGO Ideas.” This is a platform where LEGO fans can submit new design ideas and, if approved by a popular vote, the designs will be created and sold.

Kenney is a fish and wildlife biologist at the Rock Island Ecological Services Field Office in Moline, IL. Through the Rock Island Ecological Services Field Office, Keeney works with private landowners to develop habitat restoration plans for their properties.

The recently approved design series using Kenney’s likeness is c

WIU Alumnus Aleshia Kenney, a fish and wildlife biologist, appears in LEGO form as part of a new series of scientific sets.

WIU Alumnus Aleshia Kenney, a fish and wildlife biologist, appears in LEGO form as part of a new series of scientific sets.

alled “Research Institute,” and was created by Ellen Kooijman, a geochemist and a LEGO fan, for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) Midwest Region. The plan created designs around five female scientists in an effort to get more women interested in scientific fields.

These sets are part of a series called “The Building Blocks of Women Scientists.” Kenney’s likeness and details of her career are now in LEGO form on the FWS website, Facebook, and Twitter.

A picture of the design and article can be found at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/news/WomenInScience-AleshiaKenney.html. To see the other four women scientists that were also turned into a LEGO, visit http://www.fws.gov/midwest/news/WomenInScience.html.

WIU Students, Alumni Part of Macomb Roller Derby Team


1900092_695094153847319_350306090_nBy Kolette Herndon
University Relations Student Writer

When Macomb’s roller derby team, the Macomb Bombshells, take on the Midwest Derby Divas Saturday, April 26, several Western Illinois University students and alumni will be part of the local team.

The event, which will benefit the McDonough County Special Recreation Association (MCSRA), runs from 6-9 p.m. at the Outskirts Fun Center in Macomb. The MCSRA provides positive, personal and purposeful recreation to people with disabilities in the McDonough County area.

Natalie Lister, a graduate student in psychology from Macomb, is a member of the Macomb Roller Derby team.

“I would also say that being a member of the derby team has done so much for me personally,” Lister said. “I have missed sports since I was in high school and never thought I would play on a team again. Derby has fixed that. I love the intensity of the sport and the fierce competitiveness of the teams. Even better, we play hard on the rink, but show support to the opposing team as well, getting to know them after the bout is over.”

Lister added that she enjoys giving back to charity through this upcoming event.

Participants and spectators are invited to dress as a favorite superhero, and a costume contest will take place during halftime. Kids are invited to dress up as well.

Tickets are $10 at the door; $8 for veterans, seniors and students (with an ID). Children ages 12 and under are admitted free. Concessions and merchandise will be available for purchase.

WIU Music Professor Earning Art Degree

CaldwellBy Kolette Herndon
University Relations Student Worker

Jim Caldwell, a professor in the Western Illinois University School of Music since 1985, is pursing a completely different dream that is now becoming a reality. Caldwell will graduate with a bachelor of fine arts in art degree in May after not taking an art class since sixth grade.

Caldwell teaches music theory, composition and electronic music at WIU. He is also a composer, and specializes in computer music. He is a co-director of the annual New Music Festival.

In his professional world, Caldwell is the chair of the University Personnel Committee, a former president of the WIU chapter of UPI Local 4100, was named the Distinguished Faculty Lecturer in 2009, and received the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2005.

However, Caldwell sparked a new interest in simply learning to draw in 2004 when he began taking studio art classes in the art department. He had no art experience other than what is required in grade school and middle school. After the first few classes, Caldwell just kept going and eventually realized that he had accumulated enough credits to pursue a degree in art.

After meeting with Professor Jan Clough for advising and figuring out what courses he had left to take, Caldwell is now taking his last course requirement, an art history class. Caldwell will graduate in May and take part in undergraduate commencement while wearing his doctoral regalia. He will even have his own graduation party.

“My experience in the Art Department has been meaningful to me, and I think of myself as a visual artist, as well as a musician now,” Caldwell said. He adds that teaching has been wonderful and inspiring, and his traditional-age classmates have always made him feel welcome.

Inspired by WIU Classes, Alum Opens Her Own Business

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 1.22.11 PMBy Kolette Herndon
University Relations Student Writer

A recent Western Illinois University alumna was inspired so much by her classes at WIU that she has created a new organization called Real Women of the Quad Cities to help women with their self-image.

Stephanie Hoover graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences in Fall 2013 after transferring from Scott Community College (SCC) to the WIU Quad Cities campus. In the midst of her studies at WIU, she continued taking classes at SCC and took on two internships and two independent studies.

Hoover was inspired and motivated to develop her organization from within her WIU classrooms. First, she watch a video from her gender and society class, called “Killing Us Softly 4″ by Jean Kilbourne, which discussed how the media and society negatively affect women and their body image. The following fall, Hoover took a women’s health class, where she began to realize how accepting herself and others was a topic that needed attention. So, Hoover began to write her ideas on what could be done and how she was going to do it, which evolved into Real Women of the Quad Cities (later shortened to Real Women LLC).

The organization began with local women replicating photos of models and actresses who had been digitally altered.

“(This is) who we are told we are suppose to look like,” Hoover said.

The images were shared over a Facebook page Hoover created. Eventually, she began receiving many messages and page ‘likes,’ and she began to take names of women who wanted to model for the organization. Women were interested in blogging for the organization as well.

Hoover hired five local photographers to take pictures of women who had volunteered. The idea was to compare the images of what society says women should look like to how they actually are.

Assistant Professors Tammy Werner and Nancy Schaefer from the classes in which Hoover was inspired helped her create an independent study on body image for Spring 2013, which won first place at the Macomb campus Undergraduate Research Day in sociology.

Now, after graduating, Hoover has written a business plan and is pairing with Mando Murga, a former WIU business graduate, to apply for grants in hopes of renting an office and hiring staff.

Hoover is fulfilling her dream of being her own boss and plans to put her strong and personality to good use in standing up for the beliefs that she and others hold. She is currently editing her third book, which she won an award for from WIU in Spring 2012.

To learn more about Real Women of the Quad Cities, visit realwomenofthequadcities.com or visit the organization’s Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Real-Women-of-the-Quad-Cities/438737702829430.

Graduating COFAC Students Go Out with a Bang…. Or a Flash

By Kolette Herndon
University Relations Student Writer

Seniors in the Western Illinois University College of Fine Arts and Communication (COFAC) who will graduate this spring said their goodbyes with a whole new twist this year. At the beginning of every semester, theatre majors attend a unified audition where they present a song and monologue for all the directors who are directors of that semester’s shows. Students are then called back for specific shows.

But during this year’s audition, Nate Curlott, of Long Grove, IA, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in theatre, stepped forward and parodied the song “One Day More” from the musical “Les Miserables,” singing “One Term More” instead.

Shortly after, a flash mob began including all of the graduating seniors in theatre and musical theatre and all of the third year graduate students from the University’s acting program.

This idea was sparked as the students returned from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Saginaw, MI, a week prior to the audition. This idea “brought the house down” as Assistant Theatre Professor Lysa Fox said. She expressed how the production spoke volumes about this “truly phenomenal group of students who will be missed when they graduate in the spring.”

To see the video of the flash mob, visit youtube.com/watch?v=aCW9HyzYRXE.

Tim’s trifecta: WIU employee, alum runs through fire (literally) to support students

“With each race, I offer the opportunity for them to ‘sponsor’ me with a gift to the new scholarship for Phonathon students. In doing so, I want them to feel that my accomplishments in the Spartan Race Series are also their accomplishment in support of our students. The result is some well-deserved assistance for at least one Phonathon student, who through the course of their work, has secured scholarship assistance for many others.” — Tim Hallinan, Western Alumnus and WIU Director of Annual Giving
Tim Hallinan - Spartan Racer

Would you ever run through fire for your job? Or slog through stinky mud? Or heave huge tractor tires around on a hot day?

Tim Hallinan would… and he does! Well… he does it for himself, too, but he also does it to help support Western students.

As the director of annual giving at Western, Tim manages the Student Phonathon Program, which occurs each semester at WIU and employs students who reach out to alumni and parents and ask for support. “Taking a moment to speak with us is a great way to stay connected to Western, ask questions and offer your support to the Annual Fund,” the program’s website states. He also competes in the Spartan Race series, and in 2013, “hit” the trifecta, when he finished three obstacle course race (OCR) challenges in a calendar year.

Tim Hallinan, WIU '95 and the director of annual giving in Western's Foundation and Development Office, earned "Trifecta" status in 2013 in the Spartan Race series.

Tim Hallinan, WIU ’95 and the director of annual giving in Western’s Foundation and Development Office, earned “Trifecta” status in 2013 in the Spartan Race series.

I’ve known Tim, one of the most committed and conscientious people I’ve ever met, for many years (full disclosure… I worked with him at another organization in Macomb, when we were enrolled at WIU as traditionally aged students, and I was in his wedding in what seems like an eternity ago, no offense, Tim ;-). Thus, it was no surprise to me when I heard he was going to compete in these crazy challenges and take his dedication to the next level—for himself, his alma mater, and his employer.

Last December, when his lovely wife, Jeri, posted some more of the photos of his OCR adventures on Facebook, I knew I had to share.

Below is a brief Q&A about his trifecta accomplishment. I think it demonstrates why he is the embodiment of  a WIU #SuccessStory.

Q). Tell me about how you got started doing these Spartan Races. Why punish yourself like this? Isn’t just exercising enough?

A). After my National Guard career, I was looking for something to keep me fit, but also hold my interest. What I found in OCR was exactly that—plus a sense of achievement that is a step beyond a 5K time or number on a scale. There is also a sense of camaraderie among many OCR racers. You experience this on any course in the country when a stranger disregards his or her course time to stop to assist you with an obstacle or vice versa.

Q). What does the “trifecta,” in terms of Spartan racing, mean?

Tim HallinanA). The Spartan Race series includes the Spartan Sprint (3+ miles/15 obstacles), the Super Spartan (8+ miles/20 obstacles,) and the Spartan Beast (12+ miles / 25 obstacles). Completing all three distances in a calendar year earns a racer Trifecta Status, and each racer is awarded a special medal to recognize the accomplishment. Longer and even more challenging courses are offered to elite racers, but I’m not quite up to that level just yet. My latest race was the Texas Spartan Beast on December 14th in Glen Rose, Texas, which was the last race of the year, and the last distance I needed to earn the 2013 Trifecta. I previously completed the Spartan Sprint in Indiana (April 2013) and the Super Spartan in Marseilles, IL (July 2013).

Q). How does one go about training for such a competition?

A). A mistake I made early on was not distinguishing “training” from “working out.” Before my first race in October 2012, I really was not focused on fitness goals or nutrition, and it showed in my race time. Now I understand that training needs to be targeted with specific goals in mind, as well as being mindful of what I eat and when I eat it. I’ve conceded that at age 45 I’m not going to win a Spartan Race and am happy with just finishing. I consider any race in which I beat my previous time or complete obstacles I couldn’t complete before personal “wins.”

WIU Phonathon Students

Students who work for the WIU Student Phonathon Program.

Q). How does competing in these races work with the WIU scholarship fund you established?

A). I’m blessed with many friends, family, and former WIU Phonathon employees who support what I do on the course, as well as on the WIU campus. With each race, I offer the opportunity for them to “sponsor” me with a gift to the new scholarship for Phonathon students. In doing so, I want them to feel that my accomplishments in the Spartan Race Series are also their accomplishment in support of our students. The result is some well-deserved assistance for at least one Phonathon student, who through the course of their work, has secured scholarship assistance for many others.

Q). Are you going to be competing in another one? If so, when?

A). Next up for me is the Indiana Sprint on April 26th. I really enjoy this particular course, and am looking forward to it.

WIU homeland security student, faculty publish article on women terrorists

"Is the Woman Next Door a Terrorist?" by Dean Alexander and Robert Ceresero

Recent Western Illinois University alum Robert Ceresero collaborated on the article, “Is the Woman Next Door a Terrorist?” with Dean Alexander, director of the Homeland Security Research Program at WIU. The piece was published in the September 2013 issue of “Security Magazine.”

As many a women’s magazine editor could tell you, short articles about beauty and fashion tips are among the go-to content for almost every issue.

That fact is likely no different for the editors of al Qaeda’s “Al-Shamikha” (the “majestic woman”). What is vastly different about the glossy mag—which has been dubbed “Jihad Cosmo“—though, is it also “encourages women to participate in violent jihad,” according to a September article by recent Western Illinois University School of Law Enforcement and Justice Administration (LEJA) alumnus Robert Ceresero and LEJA faculty member Dean Alexander.

“Al-Shamikha” is one of many periodicals, articles, and other materials Ceresero came across in his research for the piece, “Is the Woman Next Door a Terrorist?

For the article published in last month’s issue of “Security” (a business magazine “uniquely focused on solutions for enterprise security leaders“), Ceresero collaborated with Alexander (who is an associate professor in the School of LEJA at Western, as well as the director of the WIU Homeland Security Research Program), and served as Alexander’s co-author.

“I primarily researched many different periodicals and other materials on the subject. I then compiled my findings into a more compact, organized format. From there, we pieced the article together by sending it back and forth and making suggestions,” Ceresero explained.

The collaboration came about as a result of Alexander’s research through the Homeland Security Research Program (HSRP) and his invitation to Ceresero to participate.

“By conducting research on various terrorism topics, students gain perspectives on the complex and ever-evolving aspects of homeland security. Gaining insight on issues often overlooked enables students to be glib on often cutting-edge issues. In turn, this helps them during interviews and while on the job at homeland security and law enforcement agencies,” Alexander said.

According to Ceresero—who completed his bachelor’s degree this past summer—he is actively searching for a position as a law enforcement officer either at the local or state level. Later in his career, he noted, he is interested working at the federal level, possibly in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“I have learned a lot of valuable information from Western’s Homeland Security Program, which will benefit me greatly in my future law enforcement career,” Ceresero added. “If you are student studying law enforcement and homeland security at Western, I would highly recommend collaborating with a faculty member on this type of project. It was a great experience, and I learned a lot while researching and writing an article to be published in a magazine.”

Homeland Security at WIU
Since its Fall 2006 inception, the School of LEJA’s Homeland Security Research Program has been involved in a number of activities, such as curriculum development, organizing events, as well as research and writing. As director, Alexander has spearheaded the development of the homeland security undergraduate minor, which is now one of the largest areas of minor study at Western, with more than 200 students. Through the HSRP, four new security-related courses have also been developed, including, “Terrorism and Law Enforcement;” Terror Financing”; “Legal Aspects of Terrorism” (all LEJA); and “Terrorism in South Asia.”

For information about the courses in the School of LEJA’s homeland security minor, see www.wiu.edu/catalog/programs/leja.php