Recent grads on their ‘chain’ of successful events

What can a degree from WIU do for you?

For two students who came back to campus recently at WIU-QC, the answer is: find a solid career with one of the world’s most well-known corporations.

WIU-Quad Cities faculty and community leaders welcomed recent grads Jennifer Gibson (left) and Kim Goodwin (right) back to campus recently, where they reunited with their professor, James (a.k.a. “Jim”) Patterson, who serves as assistant dean/associate professor of the QC supply chain management — and was a warehouse supervisor before earning his Ph.D. and entering academia.

 

photo of professor Jim Patterson and students

Recent WIU-QC grads reunite with their professor, Jim Patterson, in Riverfront Hall

Gibson, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree, and Goodwin, who earned her MBA, both focusing on supply chain management, credited their coursework in areas such as warehouse management; and having required internships, for helping them secure employment as product buyers for John Deere Davenports Works. (The John Deere World Headquarters is based in nearby Moline, Illinois, where WIU-QC is located.)

“Those courses, and having professors who have had real-world experience in the industry, really prepared us,” she said. She also credited the opportunity to participate in a case competition, competing with students from other universities to solve an industry problem. “Things like that really help you develop the critical-thinking and decision- making that you use every day on the job.”

Gibson and Goodwin were invited back to campus recently for a Planning and Advisory Committee meeting, to detail ways that their degrees from WIU-QC, their internship experiences, and their real-world learning experiences in the program prepared them for their positions.

COAP Employee Spotlight: Dana Vizdal, WIU Center for International Studies

Dana Vizdal (second from left) and international students at the 2016 International Bazaar at WIU

Dana Vizdal (second from left) and international students at the 2016 International Bazaar at WIU

Traveling to and staying in a foreign country can be one of the most exhilarating experiences you can have. It can also be one of the most daunting, particularly if you’re a young college student.

Luckily, at Western Illinois University, international students have a well-developed support system that is the team of committed individuals who work in WIU’s Center for International Studies (CIS).

And although it’s not quite yet time for International Education Week (that occurs in November, and is set from Nov. 14-18 this year), it’s never too early to recognize the work that international educators do. Over the years, I have had the pleasure of collaborating with a few of the staff members at the CIS. I quickly picked up on the fact that they take their jobs—working with the many international students who come to Western—very seriously.

One of those dedicated staff members is CIS Assistant Director Dana Vizdal, who once was an international student herself during a semester-long study abroad program in Europe. So with International Education Week just around the corner, and to recognize Western’s commitment to international studies for both American and international students, this month, for the the Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP) Spotlight, we’re featuring Dana.

Below, she talks a bit about her background and what she does here for the many individuals who travel tens of thousands of miles to come and study in Macomb at WIU.

Q. How did you end up working at Western?

Dana: I actually grew up in Macomb and earned both of my degrees from WIU. I was fortunate to study abroad in Spain for a semester, which really got me interested in international affairs. I have had the opportunity to work at WIU as a student worker, a graduate assistant, a civil service employee and now as an administrator in my current position.

Dana Vizdal and Western Illinois Univeristy international students visiting the Illinois State Capitol Building in Springfield.

Dana Vizdal and Western Illinois University and a group of international students visiting the Illinois State Capitol Building in Springfield.

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

Dana: There really isn’t a typical day for me. I work closely with my graduate assistants, collaborate with many offices across campus, and help students with any questions or issues. It’s important to me that the international students know there is someone advocating for them and someone they can always approach. My door is always open, and if it’s not, there is a note on my door saying when I’ll be back.

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

Dana: I love following our students on Facebook and witnessing them experience real American culture. Seeing their reactions to and pictures of their first autumn experiences or snowfall in the Midwest is priceless.

Q. What has been your most rewarding professional experience in your career at WIU so far?

Dana: One of the most rewarding experiences was learning that a student decided to attend WIU because I spoke with his sibling at a recruitment fair abroad!

Q. What are your favorite activities outside of your job?

Dana: When I’m not working, I love traveling, eating good food, and spending time with my boyfriend, family, and friends.

Q. What is your favorite quote or quotes?

Dana: I really like “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences,” by Audre Lorde, as well as “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much,” by Helen Keller.

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Follow Western’s Center for International Studies on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WIUCenterforInternationalStudies/.

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 wiurelations.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/coap-spotlight-hallinan/.)

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

CSP Grad Candidate’s Social Media Work Helps Beu Health Ed Reach Out to WIU Students

Rebecca Novick

Rebecca Novick, a grad student in Western’s college student personnel program, posing with a puppy named Roscoe. As the person in charge of Beu Health Education’s social media accounts this semester, Novick has worked to reach out to WIU students about health and wellness issues.

Northport, New York, native Rebecca Novick, who is currently a graduate student in Western’s college student personnel (CSP) program, applied to the program after hearing about it from those she worked with at her undergraduate institution, University at Buffalo (UB).

“While there, I became heavily involved in on-campus student leadership positions, such as student union manager, as well as served in an internship for the Center for Student Leadership and Community Engagement. Toward the end of my sophomore year, I took some time to reflect on what it was I enjoyed most about my undergraduate experience. What I found was that my positions on campus were where I found the most fulfillment and enjoyment, so I decided to pursue the field of student affairs. After speaking with some of my professional staff members, I found that many of them had attended WIU for their degrees in CSP. After researching the CSP program here and finding how well known and well respected it is, I decided I would apply,” she explained.

From her experiences at UB, as well as the knowledge she has gained as a WIU CSP grad student, Rebecca has been using social media for Beu Health Education to reach out to WIU students and provide them with important information about Beu’s resources, as well as about health and wellness issues in general.

Recently, she answered a few questions about the kind of work she is doing for Beu Health Ed, as well as how the work will help her in her future student affairs career.

Q. What do you do for Beu Health Education?

Novick: I am a practicum student for Beu Health Education, and my main responsibility is to manage all social media outlets. I mostly focus on our Facebook and Twitter communications and schedule posts and tweets for each week.

In the beginning of the semester, we (a few other staff members and myself) brainstormed a list of themes we could use for each week. The themes were picked based on current issues facing students, as well as the time of the semester. As I construct posts and tweets, I think of ways in which I can engage students to use the tips and resources shared in our posts and then reflect on how they can improve upon their own practices. In order to do this, I post a series of tips and tricks and then ask if our followers could share their own thoughts or helpful practices.

Q. What have you learned while working in this role for Beu Health Education?

Novick: During my time in Beu Health Education, I have learned that wellness means much more than just taking care of yourself, in terms of exercise, nutrition, and illness. I have come to learn that wellness incorporates many aspects of being, such as financial, spiritual, and intellectual wellness.

Over the course of this semester, I have also learned there are many wellness issues students face that are not always viewed as pertinent concerns. For instance, it is common for students to experience stress, sleep deprivation, and caffeine addiction. Although these may seem like common symptoms of merely being a college student, these practices can become areas of concern if not addressed. I have found Beu Health Center to be well equipped with resources to help students form healthy habits and work through such issues.

Lastly, I have found that social media can be an effective way to communicate the resources and tips needed to help work through common issues on college campuses. As our social media community grows, we are not only able to share information, but we have also been learning new practices, ways to remain relevant to our students, and find helpful resources.

Q. What are your career plans?

Novick: Following my intended graduation this spring, I hope to return to New York and work within the State University of New York (SUNY) or City University of New York (CUNY) public higher education systems. Ideally, I aspire to work within student union management or student leadership development, but I am open to many possibilities.

Q. How do you think you’ll be able to apply what you have learned working for Beu Health Education to your future career?

Novick: As social media continues to grow as an information-sharing platform, I would like to use it as a source for cross-promotion of not only offices across a university’s campus, but also to cross-promote other institutions, as well as the surrounding community. I think there are many benefits of institutions and their communities working together to help raise awareness of all opportunities and resources available to students and community members.

I also feel the knowledge I have gained relating to student wellness can help me to be a more aware and empathetic student affairs professional. In order for me to be able to effectively help students grow, I must understand their struggles and barriers. Having learned how to identify symptoms of many health concerns students face, the more I can do to help.

Q. What is the most rewarding project or enlightening activity you experienced in your work for Beu Health Education?

Novick: In general, I would say the most enlightening experiences I have had while working in Beu Health Education are the opportunities I have had to further my knowledge in WIU’s social media community. I have had numerous meetings with offices and representatives across campus to learn more about their approaches to marketing and building a social media presence. During this process, I have built many relationships and learned much about the functions of various offices around campus. I have been using these opportunities to make connections via social media to help cross-promote events and resources happening across campus.

Q. Anything else you think is important to share?

Novick: I have found the offices and staff associated with Beu Health Education to be extremely helpful and knowledgeable. There are such a large variety of resources and opportunities available to all students, not just those who are struggling with wellness. Not only is the professional staff at Beu Health Education friendly and accommodating, but student peer educators are also extremely knowledgeable and an asset to the office.

I hope students and community members continue to utilize the resources and services Beu Health Education has to offer, whether it is through attending a program, setting up an appointment for individual help, or just stopping by to find out more.

Follow Beu Health Education on Twitter at twitter.com/BeuHealthEd and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BeuHealthCenter.

Alum gets dream job at Grant’s Farm

From the time Katie Vecchi was a small child, she knew she wanted to work with animals. Her childhood wish has come to fruition, thanks, in part, to her studies at WIU.

Katie Vecchi, who earned her post-baccalaureate certificate (PBC) in zoo and aquarium studies in 2012 through WIU's Department of Biological Sciences, is an elephant keeper/trainer at Grant's Farm in St. Louis (MO).

Katie Vecchi, who earned her post-baccalaureate certificate (PBC) in zoo and aquarium studies in 2012 through WIU’s Department of Biological Sciences, is an elephant keeper/trainer at Grant’s Farm in St. Louis (MO). She is posed here with Bud.

Since last year, Katie has worked as an elephant keeper/trainer at Grant’s Farm (based in St. Louis, MO), a position she calls her “dream” job and one she landed, in part, because of the post-graduate work—resulting in her post-baccalaureate certificate (PBC) in zoo and aquarium studies in 2012—she did at Western.

In an email message she sent to Jeanette Thomas, a professor in WIU’s Department of Biological Sciences and the coordinator of the department’s PBC program in zoo and aquarium studies , Katie told her former teacher about how her graduate studies at WIU helped her get her Grant’s Farm gig.

“My boss informed me whenever I was hired that my graduate certificate and especially some of the classes that I took at Western made me one of the top candidates for the position right off the bat. So I truly appreciate all of your guidance and help. I think that you and WIU have really helped me achieve all of my goals,” she wrote to Dr. Thomas.

Since starting at Grant’s Farm last year as a temporary employee, Katie has been hired as a full-time, permanent employee. Recently, she shared with me a bit more about her background, how she learned about the position at Grant’s Farm, and what she does daily these days in her “dream” job.

Q. What interested you in studying animal biology? When did you receive your undergraduate degree?

I grew up in Western Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. From the time I was a small child I knew I wanted to work with animals, so I decided I wanted to become an animal trainer. I tried to learn as much as I could about the animals that interested me. Through this passion, I was able to get my first few jobs working with animals in Pittsburgh while I was still in high school. I volunteered at the National Aviary and volunteered, interned, and worked at the Pittsburgh Zoo. I then moved to Florida, where I attended Saint Leo University (just north of Tampa Bay). I received a dual bachelor’s of science degree in biology and environmental science, with a minor in psychology, in 2010. During my time in college, I also volunteered at Lowry Park Zoo and a small carnivore sanctuary by my university.

Q. What interested you about WIU’s PBC program in zoo and aquarium studies?

Though most jobs in my field only require an undergraduate degree, going to graduate school was one of my own goals. I wanted to enroll in a program that would help me grow and develop in my profession. I thought WIU’s program was perfect. I believe the classes I took to obtain my certificate will help me throughout my career. For example, the animal training class I took not only has helped me with training at my job at Grant’s Farm, but it also has helped me to obtain the job itself. Also, I like that we were required to take business classes. I know that as I move up in my career, I will have to take on additional responsibilities. These classes, I think, have helped me prepare for this.

Q. How did your job at Grant’s Farm come about?

Grant’s Farm posted a position for an elephant intern on the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ website. The post was for a paid, full-time position, which would last from April through November of 2012. I applied for the position in February [2012], which was followed my two additional interview processes. I was offered the job in March. Throughout my time as the intern in the department, I was able to grow and develop as an elephant trainer. Also, my superiors were impressed with my knowledge and abilities. Toward the end of my internship, I was informed that some changes were being made in my department and a new position would be available. I was then offered the job to stay on as permanent, full-time staff member.

Q. What kinds of tasks make up your day?

The large majority of my day at Grant’s Farm is cleaning and husbandry care for our elephants. We have both barns and outside exhibits to clean each day. We also prepare diets, clean staff and preparation areas, move large amounts of hay and food, and keep very detailed records of our animals. And we perform three shows each day that we are open, as well. I can act as either the speaker of the show or the elephant handler. Additionally, we do training, medical procedures, and enrichment.

Q. How do you think your studies at WIU helped you get the full-time position at Grant’s Farm?

I believe the classes at WIU gave me a huge advantage. The class I believe helped me the most is the animal training class. That course enabled me to come to the position with an extensive knowledge or training and previous training experience. It also allowed me to prove my abilities as a trainer while training new behaviors to our elephants. Additionally, classes such as mammalogy gave me a greater understanding of not only elephants but other animals at Grant’s Farm, which makes me a better asset for the education of our visitors. Finally, the classes that focused on the business and backgrounds of zoos allowed me to have a better understanding of the way these facilities run. I believe that this is not only helpful now in my career, but will also be later on.

Q. Future plans?

I am very happy with my position at Grant’s Farm. My dream job was to work with African elephants, and I have been very lucky in the sense that shortly after completing the WIU program, I was able to obtain my dream job. I would like to continue to grow as an elephant trainer and handler into the future, and I am looking forward to where that will take me. I also participated in the Shedd Aquarium internship while I was completing my WIU certificate. I think being a part of the program helped me to obtain this position, as well.

Student’s design talent lands him summer TV gig

WIU Student Chris Taylor "Duct Tape" Design Segment on KHQA-TV

Chris Taylor, a senior fashion merchandising major in Western Illinois University’s Department of Dietetics, Fashion Merchandising and Hospitality, is bringing his creativity and love of design to the viewers of KHQA-TV (Channel 7) every Friday morning through this August.

For Chris Taylor, his love of fashion and design began at the early age of “6 or 7,” he says, with an auspicious task (assigned by his mom) that involved a stack of old clothes and some Barbie dolls.

Today, at 26, Taylor, a senior fashion merchandising major in Western Illinois University’s Department of Dietetics, Fashion Merchandising and Hospitality (DFMH), is bringing his creativity and love of design to the viewers of KHQA-TV, a Quincy (IL)-based station, every Friday morning through this August.

Taylor—whose designs are frequently based on using “reconsumed” (used), common household, and/or vintage materials (check out his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ReConsumed4U)—has been appearing on the station’s 5-7 a.m. news show since mid-May in a segment that focuses on “saving on style.” (Taylor said his segments typically air in three segments from 5:30-7 a.m.).

Videos of Taylors segments (so far) can be viewed on KHQA-TV’s YouTube channel.

Taylor took some time out of his busy summer designing schedule to answer a few questions about his background and his love of design, fashion, and making “old” things “new” again.

Q). What interested you in fashion and design before you started attending WIU and majoring in fashion merchandising?

I think it all started when I was about 6 or 7. We had a neighbor with a little girl that was a good friend of my parents. Our moms would take turns watching each of us, and she would tote around all her Barbies back and forth to our house. One day my mom needed a project to keep us busy. She gave us a stack of old clothes, and we decided to make clothes for her Barbies.

While I was in high school I took a job working for the Gap. I realized that I had a passion for fashion—working in fashion retail was more fun than work. I took a few years after high school to work and realized that I had hit a ceiling in my career and felt that I needed to do something different. I packed up and moved from Southern California to Quincy. My mother had shared the cost of living with me here, and it was a no-brainer. I didn’t quite know what I would do when I got here, but I soon decided. I earned my associates in science from JWCC [John Wood Community College]. I decided to continue and earn my bachelor’s degree. Knowing my background, my counselor suggested the fashion merchandising program at WIU.

Q). What kinds of projects do you produce/have you produced as a student in the DFMH dept. at WIU? Any favorites?

Every class has required a project. Each class’s projects vary in form, but all focus on topics related to fashion. Some of my favorites include: creating a trend board, creating a business plan, researching a fashion mart, analyzing the quality aspects of a textile product, constructing a garment, and building multiple visual displays.

Q). Where you do you draw your inspiration from?

My inspiration comes from everywhere, but most of it comes from being CHEAP! I have always loved thrifting because it’s unpredictable; you never know what you are going to find. I refuse to pay full price for anything, and that has driven me to be creative in all aspects of interior furnishings and apparel.

Taylor’s Facebook page, “Reconsumed4U by Chris Taylor,” features photos of the design projects he undertakes, and he provides instructions about how to create similar designs. This t-shirt design project has a custom logo that Taylor applied with a stencil and spray paint.

Q). What interested you in working with “reconsumed” materials?

I have always loved repurposing things and updating them. Since I was young we have shopped thrift stores. I suffered a back injury last year and had some time on my hands, but little extra money. I really needed a creative outlet that would allow me to be product but that cost little-to-no money.

Q). You seem to like to work with a variety of materials and work on a variety of different types of projects. What is your favorite medium?

I can’t say that I have one “favorite” medium. To narrow it down, I will say that with paint or fabric can change anything! Mastering the use of the tools (sewing machines, staple guns, brushes, etc.) that manipulate different media can really encourage creativity.

Q). How did you first appear on KHQA’s morning show (how did the opportunity come about)?

In my visual merchandising class, we were put into groups to construct displays created out of recycled material. Because of some injury-related things, I could not be in class the week of creating the project. I volunteered to work from home and create our outfit and left everyone else to create the background display. After putting our components together I shared a photo with KHQA on Facebook. About a month later, a newscaster emailed me and asked to talk with the creator of the dress. She also wanted to see any other projects that I had made. After my first appearance, I was asked to come back again.

I have always been someone who has taken every opportunity by the horns and guided it in my direction. I talked with a few people and worked out a trial segment that focuses on saving on style that will air during every Friday’s broadcast through August.

Q). What do you hope to do when you graduate?

I had always hoped that upon graduation I would become a visual merchandiser for a large retailer. After my injury, this does not look like it will be a possibility. I am staying positive and researching other options within my field.

Q). Anything else you’d like to highlight (that I didn’t ask you about above)?

The most important thing you can do in school is to really try at every project you are asked to complete, even if you aren’t particularly enthusiastic about. These projects will teach you interpersonal skills that are irreplaceable!

Playing for more than a score

That Peachey Thing: Western Shootout Game

On April 16, Western alum Joe Peachey’s game for iPhones and iPads, “Western Shootout,” was released via the iTunes App Store. Peachey, who finished his M.S. in WIU’s School of Computer Sciences last fall, said not only will 50 percent of the profits from “Western Shootout” be donated to the National Brain Tumor Society, but the apps and games he builds and sells through his new company, That Peachey Thing, will also all support a specific charity.

For avid gamers, the gaming experience — advancing to higher and higher levels, as well as achieving higher and higher scores — often drive the desire to play. But for Western Illinois University alumnus Joe Peachey, a game he recently published in Apple’s iTunes App Store, his desire to design a game that enables gamers to “play for something bigger” started with his own experience with a malignant brain tumor he had as a child and with a course he took in his graduate program in Western’s School of Computer Sciences.

On April 16, Peachey’s game, “Western Shootout” was released via iTunes. Peachey, who finished his M.S. in computer science last fall, said not only will 50 percent of the profits from “Western Shootout” be donated to a worthy cause (the National Brain Tumor Society), but the apps and games he builds and sells through his new company, That Peachey Thing, will also all support a specific charity.

“The idea behind ‘That Peachey Thing’ is to give 50 percent of the profits from any app made to a specific charity,” Peachey noted. “Each app will support a different cause. This way, others may play for something they feel passionate about. The idea is to let people play for something bigger than just high scores.”

Recently, Peachey provided some background about his new game, how he started it, and why he started his new company.

Western Shootout by Joe Peachey

Western Shootout can be purchased/downloaded from iTunes for iPhones and iPads. See the game preview at itunes.apple.com/us/app/western-shootout/id513810420.

Q). Tell me a little bit about yourself and your background at WIU: How did you get into building games? What are your professional pursuits in computer sciences and/or game development?

My undergraduate degree is in psychology with a minor in computer science from Olivet Nazarene University. After graduation, I decided to pursue my master’s degree in computer science. I am from the Midwest, and WIU allowed me the convenience of being close to home with an opportunity to be a research assistant and teaching assistant.

Originally, my plan was to study network security. During my last semester, I took Computer Graphics 465G. This class piqued my interest and laid the groundwork for my first app, “Western Shootout.” In February, I set up a small business, That Peachey Thing, to make apps and games. I recently took a job with Tata Consultancy Services as an iOS developer. I will be working on enterprise level iPad/iPhone applications.

Western Shootout by Joe Peachey: Game Play

Peachey’s “Western Shootout” game started as a project for his Computer Graphics 465G course. “I needed a final project that involved logic or a game. My friend and I were talking about learning iOS development, and I decided to use the iOS platform to do my final project,” he said.

Q). What gave you the idea for “Western Shootout”? Will you eventually publish it on the Android platform?

Western Shootout started as a project for Computer Graphics 465G. I needed a final project that involved logic or a game. My friend and I were talking about learning iOS development, and I decided to use the iOS platform to do my final project. My hope was to keep the game play simple enough to learn the basics of iOS development but also make it intriguing and fun to play. It started as an idea to shoot just one cowboy. My final project was just one cowboy and the player had 10 seconds to shoot him.

After graduation, I decided to finish the project and publish it to the App Store. Now there are a total of 36 levels across three different difficulties and three shooting galleries varying in difficulty. The game’s levels are simple: shoot all the “ bad guys” before time runs out. In the shooting galleries, the objective is to get a high score by shooting as many “bad guys” as possible in two minutes. The shooting galleries are a way to compete against friends via Apple’s Game Center. Eventually, I may work a little bit in the Android space. For now I will concentrate on my job as an iOS developer and see what the future holds.

Q). Why are you donating 50 percent of the profits you earn from Western Shootout to the National Brain Tumor Society?

At the age of eight, I began to experience seizures. It was discovered two years later that the seizures were caused by a malignant brain tumor. It was not until I was 11 years old that the brain tumor was removed. This was a very challenging and difficult time in my life and the lives of my family.

A vivid memory I have is just before surgery, I looked at my worried, but smiling, mom and wanted to reassure her that I would be okay. I told her, “Don’t worry mom, if I don’t see you when I wake up, I will see you in heaven.” I will never forget the peace I had before the surgery. After surgery I was completely healed and have not had any complications since. Many friends and family were praying for me and I truly believe God saved my life for a purpose. I believe God plans to use That Peachey Thing as a way for me to help others. Giving back to the National Brain Tumor Society is just one way I can begin to give back.

Q). What did you enjoy most about the process of developing the game?

Dealing with the graphics was a lot of fun. The graphics are what got me excited about developing in the iOS environment. Making something that other people would enjoy to play is also rewarding.

Q). Any advice for students or professionals interested in developing games and/or applications (for Apple or Android platform)?

Do not be afraid to try something… just start. There are a lot of resources and people out there to help you along the way. A lot of things I learned came from blogs, stackoverflow.com, and other iOS Developers. Also, ask for help. There are a lot of people with different skills that have developed apps or want to learn more about the iOS platform. At WIU, Jacob Thurman has also developed apps for the App Store and was always willing to help. Toward the end of the development, I was getting help from a graphic artist, Jeff Barbee, and a musician, Lyndon Perry. Both were just dying to get into the iOS space. The more we collaborated; the more excited we became; therefore, the game just got better and better.

Visit That Peachey Thing at www.thatpeacheything.com