International Student Success Spotlight: Marloes van Eijkelenburg

International students find their way to Western Illinois University via many different pathways. One student, Netherlands-native Marloes van Eijkelenburg, had a bit of a unique experience that led her to the Midwestern region of western Illinois. She found her way to Western via a chance meeting in 2012 (in Europe) with students and faculty in the WIU sport management program.

For the Fall issue of Western News (WIU’s quarterly alumni newspaper), Marloes’ story was featured in the College of Education and Human Services‘ section, and the piece is also featured (below) for the September installment of the ongoing “International Student Success Spotlight.”

Netherlands-native Marloes van Eijkelenburg, a graduate student the Western Illinois University sport management graduate program, wound up as Western via a chance meeting with sport management faculty and students at a conference in Portugal.

Netherlands-native Marloes van Eijkelenburg, a graduate student in the Western Illinois University sport management graduate program, wound up at Western via a chance meeting with sport management faculty and students at a conference in Portugal.

Stepping Up the Game: Sport Management Program Offers International Student Multinational Perspective

Marloes van Eijkelenburg has hopes of again working at the Olympic Games. In 2012, before she came to the United States to study, the graduate student in Western Illinois University’s sport management program (offered through the WIU Department of Kinesiology) worked as a facility manager at the London Games. Although she described her job at the 2012 Summer Olympics as “amazing,” van Eijkelenburg admitted the sheer magnitude and pressure of the experience left her a bit depleted.

“I was very tired after that, so I took a little vacation by myself and I traveled to Porto, Portugal, to attend the annual conference held by the International Association for Philosophy of Sport [IAPS] in September of that year,” she explained.

It was the 2012 holiday that served as the catalyst for van Eijkelenburg’s trek to the U.S.—and eventually led to the pursuit of her master’s degree in sport management at WIU.

A Significant Score
Prior to coming to the Midwest, van Eijkelenburg had earned her bachelor’s degree in sport management from The Hague University of Applied Sciences (Netherlands), as well as completed postgraduate work in sport economics at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. While she wasn’t necessarily looking to come to North America to study, a chance meeting with Dr. Algerian Hart, assistant professor in kinesiology and graduate coordinator for the sport management program, and a few of his grad students, who were all attending the IASP conference that year, caused her to consider (and ultimately take) the path to WIU.

“I met Dr. Hart at a networking thing at the conference. We started talking, and I told him about working at the Olympics, as well as my undergraduate work in sport management. After hearing about my background, he thought it would be beneficial for me, and for the program, if I came to Western,” she noted. “There were six students with him, and he told me not to take his word for it, but to talk to his students so I could hear about the program from their perspectives.”

According to van Eijkelenburg, it was those conversations that convinced her to apply for the program so far away from her home in Europe.

“They really convinced me. I remember thinking, ‘Oh wow! If the students are talking so highly about this program, it must be good,'” she added.

After finishing up her studies at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, van Eijkelenburg worked another year (in 2013) and began her master’s program at WIU in August 2014. Now in her second year, she said the program continues to offer her valuable educational opportunities.

“My professors are extremely approachable here, and I really enjoy that. I am also a teaching assistant, and I have a little cubicle in same office space as my professors have, so they are accessible and easy to reach out to when I have a question or concern about my studies or my classes,” she noted.

Marloes (center) and some of the friends she's met as a student in WIU's graduate sport management program.

Marloes (center) and some of the friends she’s met as a student in WIU’s graduate sport management program.

Although van Eijkelenburg, who described herself as “very competitive,” had considerable knowledge about the study of sport management from her courses in Europe, she said her classes at Western offer practical application of sport management skills and philosophies.

“In Europe, the dominating sport is European football, or soccer, as it’s called here in the U.S., but since being here, I have been introduced to many of the American sports. I think it’s amazing how sports are organized are here, and in my classes, we get to discuss what’s happening in the industry here a great deal. I remember when I first got to Western, the whole story about NFL player Ray Rice’s assault case had just come out in the media, and it was my first introduction to American football. In our classes, we discussed this story from its different perspectives, such as from the fan’s point of view or from the organization’s management’s perspective. We talked about how we may have to deal with such issues in our own jobs,” she explained.

In addition to her studies and serving as a teaching assistant, van Eijkelenburg is also active in the Sport Management Association (SMA), a student organization at WIU with the mission to “expand upon students’ professional access and to provide networking opportunities and expose to increase students’ marketability.”

“Taking part in this student organization has been significant for me. I have met many friends through SMA, and we have been able to travel to different places to experience various sports venues,” van Eijkelenburg noted. “One experience, through my involvement with the SMA, included a trip to Kansas City, where I watched my first baseball game in person. Those kinds of activities have enabled me to get to know my classmates a little bit better on a personal level, and I think the opportunity to get involved like this is one of the biggest advantages of the sport management program at WIU.”

The graduate candidate has plans to finish her degree next May and has hopes of, again, working at the Summer Olympics, slated to take place next year in Rio de Janeiro. Through her experience in European sports (in addition to her undergraduate studies and work at the Olympics, she has coached field hockey), and the experience and understanding she now has of the U.S. sports industry, she said could be interested in working for an international sports organization.

“My experiences here and in Europe have been so rich, I really would like to stay international, to serve both the European and the American markets,” she said. “There’s a really high job placement rate within the program—I think everyone who graduated last May has a job right now. But it really depends on what opportunity arises.”

Aug./Sept. COAP Employee Spotlight: Pedro Bidegaray

Last June, Dr. Pedro Bidegaray brought his extensive international education expertise to Western Illinois University. As the new director of WIU’s Office of Study Abroad and Outreach, Bidegaray said the opportunity offers him the “chance to make a difference” and “to work with a group of committed professionals in the provision of international opportunities and perspectives to students at WIU.”

Pedro Bidegaray (center) during his time with Educate Tanzania.

Pedro Bidegaray (center) during his time with Educate Tanzania.

Before arriving in western Illinois, Dr. Bidegaray was based in Minnesota, in a position at Educate Tanzania (a non-governmental organization) and supported efforts to develop an academic curriculum for a new agricultural college in Karagwe, Tanzania. Prior to that (2011-14), he was the director of international programs at the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources Sciences. In that role, he was responsible for integrating an international perspective into the mission of the college, with an emphasis on internationalization of curriculum and global development. From 1995-2010, he worked for EARTH University in Costa Rica, serving as director of international academic programs from 2006-10.

As a new Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP) member at Western, Dr. Bidegaray agreed to share a bit more about his background and goals for his latest pursuits in international education on this Big Blue Planet.

Q: What interested you in coming to Western Illinois University?

Dr. Bidegaray: I was born in Peru and studied anthropology. I was intrigued by the idea of working with rural communities in my country. Later, I came to the U.S. to get my Ph.D. in cultural anthropology, and after I was awarded my degree, I traveled to Costa Rica to work in a small international college. Five years ago, we (my wife and two children) decided to come back to the U.S.

Q: What does a typical day at work at Western look like for you so far?

Dr. Bidegaray: It is becoming busier day after day. Since I started at WIU, I have dedicated a significant portion of my time to visit administration and faculty, in an attempt to get to know about the institution, content of their academic programs, and their understanding of the role that international education might (should) play in WIU.

Our unit, the Office of Study Abroad and Outreach, is a unit that provides services to faculty and students. In order to achieve this goal, we need to understand what is academically meaningful and feasible, and translate that understanding into initiatives that will encourage the adoption of international perspectives into their academic programs.

To succeed, we are committed to be prompt communicating with students and faculty, trying address their concerns and finding specific solutions to challenges they might face as they look to enrich their academic experiences.

Q: What is your favorite on-the-job memory?

Dr. Bidegaray: My favorite on-the-job experience has been through my interaction with co-workers in Costa Rica. I worked for an institution at which the employees cared deeply for their students and their abilities to succeed as professionals and citizens. We were a tight group of professionals from all over the world and disciplines, forever discussing how to engage students creatively and meaningfully in the classroom or when they were in the field visiting rural areas. We were all part of a learning community committed to the ideal of the education of leaders of change. Sounds corny, but that is what we believed.

Q: What has been the most rewarding professional experience in your career so far?

Dr. Bidegaray: Regarding my most rewarding experience in my career, well, I don’t know… I have several. As a professor and as a person who has traveled extensively, I have always been moved by people’s generosity and ability to connect, irrespective of cultural differences. People have an incredible ability to surprise me with unexpected reactions of kindness and creativity.

Q: What are some of your goals for Western’s Office of Study Abroad and Outreach?

Dr. Bidegaray: I have several goals, which include: to extend the benefits of international education to most WIU students. This is something we will achieve by developing a program that not only encourages students and faculty to go abroad, but also by developing an academic program and a university culture that integrates international perspectives comprehensively. It is not necessary to travel to other countries to develop an understanding and addressing cultural differences. The world as we know it is here around us. Here on campus, we have students from close to 60 different countries. Do we know who they are? What do we know about their countries? Do we bring that experience to our classrooms?

Another goal is to work toward making WIU a preeminent professional development destination for young professionals and college students. This goal corresponds to the outreach component of our office. Our goal is to identify those jewels of knowledge, unique pieces of information, and transform them into training opportunities that can be marketed globally.

Q: Tell me a little about your favorite activities outside of your job (e.g., hobbies, family or friend activities, etc.).

Dr. Bidegaray: I am a father of four kids. Two of them are still with us and are very much part of what we (my wife and I) do every day. We enjoy family life, and the times we spend together doing sports or enjoying a good meal.

I love doing sports, all kinds of music (indie and classical), good books, and international cuisine. My wife is a great cook, so that is an easy pick.

Q: What is your favorite quote?

It is difficult to say. I like to tell students that “they should dare to dream big.” Also, I like to paraphrase John F. Kennedy’s speech of 1961, when he tells his audience: “And so, my fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

I reference these words when I invite people to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

July COAP Employee Spotlight: Matt Tanney

Tanney on TourIf you were patronizing any of Macomb’s businesses this past Monday, you may have gotten a glimpse of the blur that was “Tanney on Tour.”

Yesterday, Matt Tanney, the interim director of Western Illinois Athletics, was spotted all over the fair city that is Western Illinois University’s home, as he traveled to area businesses to give a special “THANKS!” to ALL of Leatherneck Athletics’ corporate partnership sponsors.

The whirlwind tour (check out all of the photos at demonstrates Matt’s inspirational motivation.

Other achievements, too, here at WIU demonstrate his drive: Matt (who was named the interim director of Western Illinois Athletics in May 2015) was honored with WIU’s Division of Student Services “Administrative Employee of the Year” in May 2014, and a Western Illinois Athletics’ press release also notes he has presented nationally at the NCAA Regional Rules conference. Additionally, he teaches undergraduate courses here at WIU, as well as serves as a guest lecturer at several colleges. He will also teach a sports law class in the WIU graduate program this fall.

As the subject of the July installment of the Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP) Employee Spotlight feature, Matt was kind enough to take some time out of his hectic schedule to answer some questions about his job here at Western. Thanks, Matt!

Q. Tell me a bit about your background… How did you wind up working at WIU?

Matt: I grew up in an athletically minded family that also valued the pursuit of high academic achievement. My father had a successful career as a high school football coach, and my two younger brothers are presently in the NFL (Mitch works for the Denver Broncos, and Alex is a quarterback for the Tennessee Titans). So, athletics has always been a part of my life that’s well complemented my academic interests. I was a collegiate student athlete at the NCAA Division III level and earned my undergraduate and law degrees from Wabash College and the Robert H. McKinney School of Law, respectively.

While in law school, I worked at the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), which opened some doors in the athletics industry. I worked in the athletics department at The Ohio State University after law school, and eventually the University of Dayton and the University of Oklahoma. I joined the Leathernecks in July 2012 as the associate director of WIU Athletics. I’m originally from the Bloomington-Normal area, so it’s been a pleasure to return closer to friends and family in Central Illinois.


Western Illinois Athletics’ Interim Director Matt Tanney and Western’s mascot, Rocky.

Q. What does a typical day at work at Western look like for you as the interim director of Athletics?

Matt: There’s no such thing as a “typical day” in the office, which is great. It’s a diverse, well-rounded experience. I’m constantly exploring new avenues to generate additional revenue for the department, developing strategies on financial planning and facilities initiatives, and hiring new coaches and staff. The reality is division I intercollegiate athletics is a fast-paced environment, and if you’re not nimble on the job, you’ll fail.

Q. What are some of the best aspects of your job?

Matt: I started working in college athletics because of the student-athletes. I often say that if you’re not working toward the best interests of the student-athletes, then you’re in the wrong business. The most rewarding moments of the job aren’t always the wins on the court or field—they are often the less publicized stories… for example, the student-athlete who gets accepted into his or her first choice of graduate school, or knowing that athletics provided the access and opportunity for a first-generation college student to obtain his or her degree.

Q. What are some of the most challenging aspects of your job?

Matt: The athletics department is not immune to the budgetary challenges facing the university and the state of Illinois, so I’m always striving to identify ways we can become more efficient in our financial operations.

Q. Tell me a little about your favorite activities outside of your job (e.g., hobbies, family or friend activities, etc.)

Matt: I’m blessed with an amazing wife and twin daughters, so I spend as much time with them as possible.

Q. What is your favorite quote?

Matt: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” — F.Scott Fitzgerald

June COAP Employee Spotlight: Andrea Henderson

If you work at Western, chances are you have met Andrea Henderson. As director of the Western Illinois University Office of Equal Opportunity and Access, Andrea’s job requires she meet many, many employees regularly. In fact, she said that is one the best parts of her job… getting to meet and work with employees from all areas of the University.

Andrea Henderson, Director, Western Illinois University Office of Equal Opportunity and Access

Andrea Henderson, Director, Western Illinois University Office of Equal Opportunity and Access

For the June Western Illinois University Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP) Employee Spotlight, Andrea took time out of her schedule to give us a little bit of background about her career at Western and her dedication to her employer… and her alma mater.

Q. Tell me a bit about your background… How did you wind up working at WIU?

Andrea: My mother worked at WIU and I attended as a student, so I knew that WIU was a great place to work. In 1988, I was hired as a secretary III – trainee in the purchasing office. After completing my trainee program and working in the position for two more years, a vacancy for a purchasing assistant became available. I tested and was interviewed for the position and was hired. I later promoted to purchasing officer. After working in the purchasing office for nine years, I was asked to coordinate the University’s civil service trainee/learner program. I did that for about 10 months while still working half-time in the purchasing office. I was then transferred to a position that reported half-time to Human Resources and half-time to the Affirmative Action (now Equal Opportunity and Access) Office. In that position, I continued to coordinate the trainee/learner program and assisted the Affirmative Action director with employment monitoring, complaint investigation, and ADA compliance. I later promoted to equal opportunity officer. I was in that position for 10 years, and then was hired for a full time position in Human Resources as a human resource manager for classification/compensation. After being in that position for two years, the opportunity to apply for the position of director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access became available. I have been in this position since July of 2009.

Q. What does a typical day at work at Western look like for you?

Andrea: Like many administrators, I really do not have a “typical” day. My day-to-day responsibilities include monitoring the search process for faculty and administrative positions, monitoring ADA & Title IX compliance for the campus, and receiving and investigating complaints of discrimination. I never know what’s going to cross my desk on any given day. The day could start with attending regularly scheduled committee meetings and before the day ends, I might have traveled across campus to meet with facilities maintenance on location to discuss an immediate access issue, worked with the Macomb Police Department to retrieve a report (OPS sends them automatically), or participated in an impromptu meeting with administrators, legal counsel, or an employee regarding some pressing issue.

Q. What are some of the best aspects of your job?

Andrea: Through my responsibilities, I come in contact with a lot of people across campus. Western has some amazing employees and it’s my pleasure getting to meet them.

Q. What are some of the most challenging aspects of your job?

Andrea: There are a number of very challenging aspects to my job and some of them keep me up at night. I have a great deal of responsibility in the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access, and the decisions I make can greatly impact people. I take that very seriously, and sometimes it can be very emotionally draining.

Q. Tell me a little about your favorite activities outside of your job.

Andrea: My husband and I are very involved in our church and community. We enjoy volunteerism. We spend a lot of time doing things in the ministry, including special services and Bible study. In the community, my husband is co-founder of a summer youth group, called P.R.I.M.E., so during the spring and summer I assist with that. I am also on several community boards including the Macomb Fire and Police Commission, the Samaritan Well, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and the Housing Authority of McDonough County. In addition, we love to travel, so when we don’t already have other commitments, we’ll jump in the car and do a road trip or we’ll plan a longer get away to some place we’ve never been. Our most recent travel was a cruise to Montego Bay, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and Cozumel, Mexico. Before that, we took a trip up to Canada.

Q. What is your favorite quote? (Or, if you prefer… your go-to advice you give to individuals when they ask you?)

Andrea: Trust God! (favorite quote by unknown… and go-to advice!)

May COAP Employee Spotlight: Jude Kiah

Jude Kiah - 2015 WIU COAP Employee of the Year

Jude Kiah, director of the Western Illinois University Bookstore and director of Go West Transit at Western and in Macomb, was named the WIU 2015 Employee of the Year by the Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP).

If you don’t know Jude Kiah from his work at Western Illinois University (he is the director of the WIU Bookstore and of Go West Transit in Macomb), you may know him from the various other venues at which he “works” frequently.

Personally, I have seen Jude officiating at many of my nephews’ basketball games in western Illinois over the years. (Jude has been the basketball chairman of the Western Central Officials Association [WCOA] for 18 years; this year, Jude officiated his third—and final—2015 Illinois High School Association [IHSA] state tournament.)

On a few occasions, I have also encountered people outside of my job here at WIU who have heard Jude speak and/or attended one his leadership training sessions. (I recall a family member, who attended one of his sessions through her job in education, asking me if I knew this “Jude Kiah guy” who works at Western? “Yes,” I answered her. To which she exclaimed, “He is a great speaker!”)

Earlier this month, Jude’s contributions to Western and his community were recognized when he was named the 2015 Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP) Employee of the Year. While the winner isn’t required to give an acceptance speech, Jude did, and I can honestly say, after many years of attending meetings in my career, it was the first meeting I’ve attended at which I’ve seen anyone cry (well, from joy anyway ;-) ).

For the press release I posted for University Relations, I asked Jude to describe how he felt about this receiving the award.

“I can remember, many, many years ago, seeing this plaque on the wall in the Union and thinking how special those people must have been to the WIU community to be so honored. I never aspired to win it (I thought it was too far out of reach to aspire to), but my peers were unrelenting in nominating me repeatedly.That my peers did that for me is deeply humbling. It literally took my breath away when I found out. I read the letter three times because I thought I read it wrong! To me, it signifies the respect of my peers, which is all one can ask for out of a career. I am honored to serve the people I work with every day at Western. It’s an especially good day to be a Leatherneck!”

In honor of Jude’s recognition (and for the May installment of the COAP Employee Spotlight), I asked him to provide me with just a bit more about what makes him (a busy, busy fellow) tick (see Q&A below).

Congrats, Jude, on an honor so very well deserved!

Q. Tell me a bit about your background… How did you wind up working at WIU?

Jude: I am originally from northern New York. I moved to Florida when I was nine and graduated from Orlando Bishop Moore High School. I attended college and grad school in New York and was working in Georgia in 1995, when I had an interview for Western, twice, at a national conference in Boston. I actually had another job in New Jersey that I was waiting for final confirmation on at the time. I got a call from Western six weeks after the interviews, and they asked me to come to campus. I really didn’t want to come (I thought I already had that other job lined up), but I did, after being prodded, and I fell in love with it when I got here. I turned down the job in New Jersey and came to Illinois.

Q. What does a typical day at work at Western look like for you?

Jude: There is no typical day. I have offices on both sides of town, so I look at my schedule and see where I am needed that day. I have a list of things I need to get done, but it rarely does! I don’t think of my workday as segmented. If I am awake, I am working. (Darn Electronics!)

As time has gone on, it’s more like I spend the actual workday in meetings, answering communications, and meeting with people in my office, and then I spend the evening actually doing the work, lol… I’m usually running around at high speed most days.

Q. What are some of the best aspects of your job?

Jude: It’s really just that. It’s never the same. I love working at a place that has allowed me to be progressive and find ways to benefit our students. That has led in some interesting directions over the years, and I have done things I never, ever thought I would get involved with. I love working with our students and making a difference for them in their lives. It’s what drives me. I love being part of a campus and a community like Macomb.

Q. What are some of the most challenging aspects of your job?

Jude: Time. I just don’t have enough time in the day. There is so much to do, and not enough time to do it. I am still trying to figure out how to make more time.

Q. Tell me a little about your favorite activities outside of your job.

Jude: Officiating basketball has been a huge passion for the last 27 years. I have worked nearly 20 of those with the same person (Sam Moran), and we are best friends. We have had a really blessed career (three state finals and two state championships). We hunt and travel together, too.

My children are a lot of fun. They are very funny children, and they are a blast! Family time is important, and I try not to work until the family is in bed at 9 p.m. I stay up much later.

I run quite a bit (maybe 10-12 miles a week) in the basketball off season, too. I do a lot of public speaking—maybe 75 engagements a year. I do like fixing things and building things, too. I find that very therapeutic.

Q. What is your favorite quote?

Jude: “Only the man who swims against the stream knows the strength of it.”  — Woodrow Wilson

And one more that’s deeply important to me…

“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” —  Vince Lombardi

COAP Employee Spotlight: Kenny Wheeler

Kenny Wheeler

Kenny Wheeler, an academic advisor at the WIU-QC campus, is regularly nominated by students for the award, according to Michele Aurand, academic honors advisor for the WIU Centennial Honors College. However, for February, he was nominated by Bradley Heitz (Rock Island, IL), a senior Bachelor of Arts in General Studies (BGS) major.

“Because of Kenny’s hard work and countless hours of advising, I am on track to graduate from Western Illinois University in 2015, a goal that I once assumed was unachievable. Kenny took the time to fully understand my academic and professional goals and aligned those interests with a course schedule that reflected them.” — Bradley Heitz, Senior, Bachelor of Arts in General Studies Program

Kenny Wheeler is one of the many Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP) employees at Western integral to the success of WIU students and to the University overall. In his role as an academic advisor, he is one of the front-line individuals who serves students in the all-important task of developing their course schedules (every semester that they are at WIU) so they can stay on track to graduate.

Kenny’s outstanding work was recently recognized when we was named COAA (Council of Academic Advisors) Advisor of the Month last February.

“[Kenny] is regularly nominated by students for the award, according to Michele Aurand, academic honors advisor for the WIU Centennial Honors College. However, for February, he was nominated by Bradley Heitz (Rock Island, IL),” noted the release about Kenny’s award.

Kenny agreed to be featured in the April installment of the COAP Employee Spotlight and was kind enough to answers a few questions about his work at Western and what he enjoys outside of his job.


Q. Tell me a bit about your background… How did you wind up working at WIU?

Kenny: I’ve been working in higher ed and student affairs for about 13 years now. I worked in admissions previously at two small private institutions, focusing on recruiting under-represented students and increasing ethnic and racial diversity on campus. I was fortunate enough to attend graduate school with two classmates (and now colleagues) here at Western that gently pulled me into the WIU family. I am now in my seventh year at WIU, and I continue to find the challenges and successes I’ve had along the way to be rewarding and motivating.

Q. What does a typical day at work at Western look like for you?

Kenny: Returning e-mails, phone calls, meeting with students, setting up appointments, and becoming involved in the evolution of the WIU-Quad Cities’ campus continues to take up much of my time from day to day. I always find it important to me to head home for lunch and get away from the office to just take a moment to breath. And if I can’t get away, I’ll usually take a couple of moments a day to get around and talk to folks so I’m not staring at my computer all day. :)

Q. What are some of the best aspects of your job?

Kenny: One of the best aspects of this job is helping students meet their academic and professional goals, but I also enjoy getting to know them on a personal level. It is so important in education to develop a personal connection with students, to have empathy and understanding of their experiences, and to treat them with respect no matter who they are. If I can do those things, the rest of my job seems to fall into place and students can feel comfortable meeting with me as their advisor.

Q. What are some of the most challenging aspects of your job?

Kenny: One of the more challenging aspects of my job is knowing that we can’t meet all the needs of every student, and you have to learn to be okay with that. You just have to provide as much information, resource, and opportunity that you can, and make a reasonable effort to be of as much assistance as possible.

Q. Tell me a little about your favorite activities outside of your job (e.g., hobbies, family or friend activities, etc.)

Kenny: My two favorite activities outside of my job is spending time with my family and coaching track and field. My wife and my two daughters are some of the greatest blessings God has granted me with, and coming home to see them after work is the most rewarding part of the day…especially after a tough day in the office.

I am also in my 15th year of coaching track and field at the college and high school levels, and am now in my eighth season coaching girls track and field at a large high school in Iowa. I love motivating the young individuals I coach in a sport that I participated in through college and has been a part of my life since grade school.

Q. What is your favorite quote?

Kenny: I have a lot of favorite quotes that I use year to year as a coach, but the quote I really admire speaks to our strength, diversity, our uniqueness as individuals, and community:

“Be strong enough to stand alone. Be yourself enough to stand apart. But be wise enough to stand together when the time comes.” — Mark Arends

Meet Michelle Howe from WIU’s Career Development Center

Michelle Howe

Michelle Howe (right), her husband Matt (a 2009 graduate of WIU’s School of Agriculture), and their Future Leatherneck daughter, Macie. Michelle is an assistant director in Western’s Career Development Center, which provides career services for WIU students and alumni.

Ever wish you had a go-to person to help you with career advice or to critique your résumé?

As one of the dedicated members of the Western Illinois University Career Development Center (CDC) staff, CDC Assistant Director Michelle Howe is one of these “go-to” individuals who students (as well as WIU Alumni) seek out for help when it comes to preparing for a job search and the employment-searching process itself.

Michelle, who is also a WIU alumna, graciously agreed to be featured for the second installment of the Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP) Employee Spotlight, a monthly feature (sponsored by the COAP organization) to showcase the varied jobs, talents, services, and resources COAP employees do, have, provide, and share as employees of Western. (Read the inaugural installment, “Meet One Tough (and Fun) Mudder: Tim Hallinan” at

Learn more about Michelle and what she does at Western’s CDC below.


Q. Tell me a bit about your background. How did your employment with WIU come about?

Michelle: I attended WIU as a transfer student to complete my bachelor of science degree in agriculture. At the time, I was engaged to a local Lewistown farmer, Matt [who is also a WIU alum], and I knew I would be living in this area. I decided to attend graduate school at WIU to pursue a new career in student affairs, rather than agriculture. I graduated from the WIU’s College Student Personnel program in 2011 and was fortunate to apply for a job at the Career Development Center, where I had completed my two years as a graduate assistant.

Working in career development was the reason I decided to apply for the CSP program, so I am very blessed to be working at the CDC today! WIU has been a great place to learn, grow, and develop lifelong friendships.

Q. What does a typical day at work at Western look like for you?

Michelle: As with most jobs, my days are not always “typical,” but my main responsibility as the assistant director is to assist students with the job search and career development process. Many days are spent in one-on-one sessions with students, advising them on career planning (deciding which career path to take and figuring out what they should “do” at WIU to be prepared for this career field) and advising them on job-searching strategies. This includes critiquing résumés, cover letters, graduate school essays, and other professional correspondence.

I also conduct mock interviews with students to give them constructive feedback on their interviewing skills using an iPad, so that they can see their strengths and areas for improvement. I also teach students how to use LinkedIn as a professional networking and job searching tool. Each week, I also conduct daytime/evening workshops to student organizations, classrooms, fraternities/sororities, etc., on career development topics, especially LinkedIn. Each semester, I teach a career-preparation class, which teaches the job-searching process to students.

Throughout the year, I serve on a few committees, conduct outreach efforts to academic departments, research current trends in career development, write newsletter articles on behalf of the office, create flyers for our workshops and other events, and supervise the CDC graduate assistants.

That is what I love about my job—I do so many different things each day that it keeps my life interesting!

Q. What are some of the best aspects of your job? What are some of the most challenging aspects?

The best thing about my job is the PEOPLE! Most of the students I work with are hard-working students, who just need a little guidance on their job searches. Many of our students are first-generation college students, and since I was also a first-gen student, I can relate to how they are feeling about college and about the job-searching process. Some of the students visit me more than once, to make sure their interviewing skills are getting better, or to get new advice on their future goals.

It is rewarding to see a student get the job he or she was hoping for, or land an interview for an internship.

I also LOVE my coworkers and appreciate the uniqueness we each bring to the CDC… we are definitely a family!

The most challenging aspect about my job is seeing students who NEVER stop by the CDC to get help with the job-searching process. Some students don’t know our office exists, some do not think they need help with their résumés, and others plan to make an appointment and do not follow through. I wish every student would stop by our office at least once!

Q. What do you like to do in your time away from work?

Michelle: Though I am professionally fulfilled by working at WIU, my heart is at home! I have an 18-month old daughter, Macie, who is an energetic, lovable, stubborn toddler. Recently, we purchased a bike with a trailer and plan to ride around with Macie and make bike riding a new hobby.

I enjoy spending time with my husband on our rural Lewistown farm, where we raise cows, corn, soybeans, and wheat. Together, we enjoy doing landscaping and home improvement projects. We love to have family and friends stop by the farm to ride in the John Deere gator, sit on the deck to watch the fire pit, and enjoy the scenery.

I also enjoy reading books, watching movies, and shopping for good deals at garage sales! I am also very active in my faith and enjoy going to church and studying the Bible.

Q. What is your favorite quote?

Michelle: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” — Steve Jobs