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Alumni  Achieving Your Dreams

National Louis University • Spring/SUMMER 2014

Message From the President

Table of Contents The First Word ......................................... 3

Dear Friends,

Who Gets a Lift From Your Gift? ..........4-5

At National Louis, we often talk about achieving dreams. It is the belief in achieving dreams that drives many NLU students and underscores much of our University’s work.

NLU alumna named Arizona Teacher of the Year .............................................6-7 Student gets second chance througheducation ...............................8-9

For our students, the dream may be to get their degree, advance their career, and positively impact their community. For faculty, staff and administration, it is how to provide quality, professionally relevant and affordable programs and services so the path to achieving those dreams is a reality. Finally, for you, our alumni, you believed in your dream, completed your education and taken a path to improving your life, your family’s life, or perhaps your community. Now you may be pursuing new dreams or helping others achieve theirs.

Opportunities for NLU Alumni ........10-11 News & Notes......................................... 11

Institutional Advancement Staff John Bergholz, Vice President of Institutional Advancement Karen Galea, Director of External Funding & Grant Development

You demonstrate tangible evidence that dreams do come true – the walk across stage to receive a diploma, getting a new job or promotion, or answering a need within families or communities. It is heartening to see these achievements and rewarding that our institution has been a part of their fruition.

Jason Givan, Director of Advancement Operations Danielle LaPointe, Associate Director of Advancement Services Kimberly Michaelson, Director of Alumni Relations

At National Louis, our students and alumni have a long tradition of making the most of themselves in every possible way, and they inspire us every day with the passion and commitment they show. Marcia Wieder, renowned author and firm believer in the fact that dreams are worth achieving, claims, “Commitment leads to action. Action brings your dream closer.”

Carey Smith, Special Events Coordinator Contributing Writers:

I can attest to that statement for I have been privileged as president to witness the commitment and actions of our students and alumni that are a direct result of fulfilling a dream. In this issue of the NLU Alumni Magazine, you will read of dreams coming true and the accomplishments of a few dedicated dreamers.

Susan Barnett

Brian Kush

Mark Donahue

Kaitlin Weiss

Johnnie Gaskew

Alumni Relations Contact Kimberly Michaelson at 312.261.3159 or

Best regards,

Make an Estate Gift Contact John Bergholz at 312.261.3871 or

Nivine Megahed, Ph.D., President


The First Word An NLu education is the key to a better life By Johnnie Gaskew ’13

One of my proudest moments was June 22, 2013, when I graduated from National Louis University with a bachelor’s in applied behavioral sciences. Walking across the stage and receiving my diploma was such an honor. I realized that I was the first college graduate of my siblings. It was the most memorable occasion as my two daughters, Ashley (23) and Alexis (20), enthusiastically cheered me on.

as they assist me in accomplishing my educational goals. My family and I are being given a chance for a much better quality of life – a new beginning, because of their donations. I am so grateful to have been a recipient of their gift. I close with a poem that I wrote in 2005 titled “Starting Over.” Johnnie Gaskew received her bachelor’s degree last June and is now pursuing her master’s at NLU.

Starting Over It’s not the end, it’s a new beginning

Prior to graduation, I did extensive research on deciding what graduate institution to attend and decided that I would remain at NLU to pursue a Master’s in Written Communication (MSWC). My reasons for enrolling in the MSWC program are twofold, as I want to fulfill my desire for professional and personal growth and enhance my opportunities for much better employment. I am very passionate about writing, and I want to hone in on my writing skills. By mastering my courses in the MSWC program, I strongly believe that I will be in a much better position to obtain the knowledge I need to seek a career in writing.

Becoming gainfully employed is my number one priority, as my home went into foreclosure because of periods of unemployment and now underemployment. To acquire skills that will assist me to secure employment is of utmost importance to me and my family, and NLU is affording me that opportunity. Once I complete this program, I will pursue a Ph.D. in writing. I know such an undertaking will take hardwork; however, I grew up on a farm. My parents taught me the value of hard work and the endless prospects of acquiring a good education.

Make wiser decisions, and make better choices

Being a successful student at NLU and taking advantage of its resources is my new beginning. It is also a new beginning for my family because it offers hope and has the potential to open doors for unlimited possibilities for employment. The MSWC program is vital in helping me launch my professional writing career while providing me with the skills I need to teach freshman college English until my writing career can financially sustain my household.

I was privileged to take part in NLU’s “Who Gets a Lift From Your Gift” campaign (see page 5). This allowed me to meet NLU staff and gave me a chance to share my story. It also gave me an opportunity to personally thank donors who financially support NLU students. Because of their monetary contributions, I can spend more time focusing on my academics and less time thinking about how I am going to pay for tuition and textbooks. Their donations are genuinely appreciated


That affords us the opportunity to correct mistakes

About our lives, our relationships, and our careers. Wounded and somewhat reluctant to pursue the unknown We surrender to negative situations We accept demeaning circumstances And become bitter as we allow life to pass us by Yet, hindsight has revealed that changes are needed. Remove the crutches that are paralyzing Let go of fear, be a risk taker Embrace every window of opportunity It’s never too late to start over It’s never too late to pursue your dreams. Be patient and allow yourself to evolve Start over Enjoy your new beginning.

NLU Alumni Magazine

The Reach Gala By Susan Barnett

Photos by James Richards IV - National Louis University

(l to r) Scott Smith, Chairman, NLU Board of Trustees; Peter Mosca, Director of Public Relations and Executive Communications for Century 21 (accepting the award on behalf of Richard Davidson); and Nivine Megahed, University President

(l to r) Selima Hargadon, Executive Director of NLU’s P.A.C.E. program; Matt Vassil, 2014 Reach Award honoree; and Mario Tricoci, NLU Board of Trustees

(l to r) Peg Moreland, Vice Chair, NLU Board of Trustees; Sylvia Delgado-Reyes, 2014 Reach Award honoree; and Christine Quinn, Provost

On May 20, National Louis University hosted the Reach Awards Gala, honoring four of its alumni with this distinguished award. The Reach Awards recognize individuals who have, through education, sought to improve themselves and their communities. The 2014 honorees were: • Richard W. Davidson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Century 21 • Anne Gillespie, Principal, Academy for Global Citizenship • Matt Vassil, P.A.C.E. alumnus and Assistant

(l to r) Stu Carrier, Dean, National College of Education; Anne Gillespie, 2014 Reach Award honoree; and Kay Nixon, NLU Board of Trustees

Manager of Eli’s Deli • Sylvia Delgado-Reyes, Project Director and Director of Social Services, Family Health Centers of Southwest Florida NLU’s Reach Award, established in 2001, proudly honors alumni who have overcome personal adversity, are helping others to realize their own talents and skills, and have positively influenced and uplifted their communities through their work. “National Louis students have a reputation of pursuing careers


that allow them to give back to the community,” said Nivine Megahed, Ph.D., president of NLU. “It is with great pleasure that we recognize NLU alumni who have gone above and beyond to make a difference in the face of adversity.” The Gala was held at the Field Museum in Chicago and included a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception, access to museum exhibits, formal dinner, and silent auction. Proceeds from the event benefit NLU’s student success initiatives.

Your gift does make a difference Find out how your donation impacted these NLU scholars By Kaitlin Weiss

When the National College of Education was first founded in 1886, the hope of its founders was to create an institution that would allow individuals across all backgrounds to gain skills to provide for themselves and others. Today, National Louis University continues that mission of excellence and access.

that you do more – that your gifts to the NLU Fund allow our students to accomplish their goals and achieve their dreams. The Who Gets a Lift From Your Gift: 30 Inspiring NLU Students Campaign was born of that – a way to introduce you to the people who make up our student body – passionate, ambitious, driven students juggling homework and housework, managing a career, and supporting their families.

journey. Having received the Founders Scholarship, students told us about their successes, personal growth, accomplishments, and how receiving a scholarship had impacted their lives.

When you make a gift to the National Louis Annual Fund, there is no good way to tell you what your money is achieving. Instead, we wanted to show you

With a variety of degree programs within NLU represented, we were joined by 30 students of all ages and backgrounds who sat down with us to talk about their educational

Meet all the students in our Who Gets a Lift From Your Gift: 30 Inspiring NLU Students at nlumarketing/videos

If you want to know who at NLU gets a lift from your gift – it’s all of us. Our students, staff and faculty, and alumni are achieving greatness together.

Who gets a lift from your gift? We do... Cassandra Jackson: “I’m the only one of five siblings that has any degree, so the fact that I am doing this and coming to a place that will nurture that is important. I can concentrate not so much on the things that I could not do, but on my school work. I can get the grades that I know I can achieve.” Frank Sanchez: “I have gone to a couple of different colleges and universities. I foresee myself completing here. I’m happy for that. I’m finally going to get my bachelor’s degree – and hopefully my master’s as soon as I complete.”

Ryan Hurban: “[The P.A.C.E. Program at NLU] is helping me to learn to be independent, manage money – and just be a better person.”


NLU Alumni Magazine

Photo Courtesy of Nick Cote ~ Daily News-Sun

NLU alumna Beth Maloney teaches fifth grade at Sunset Hills Elementary School in Surprise, AZ.

NLU Alumna Beth Maloney honored as 2014 Arizona Teacher of the year By Brian Kush

Growing up in the north suburbs of Chicago, Beth Maloney (B.A. Elementary Education ’01, M.Ed. Administration and Supervision ’05) had dreams of being a veterinarian. As she approached her college years, Beth started to gain an interest in public relations. But after a summer of working with children at a local YMCA summer camp, Beth realized her true calling. “I was just having so much fun hanging out with the kids all day,”

Beth said. “Then it dawned on me — I’m meant to be a teacher.”

the 2014 Illinois Teacher of the Year.

Beth, a fifth-grade teacher at Sunset Hills Elementary School in Surprise, AZ, clearly made the right career choice. As a result of her efforts in the classroom, the Arizona Educational Foundation named Beth the 2014 Arizona Teacher of the Year. Beth is the second NLU alum named teacher of the year for her respective state — Pam Reilly ’99 was named

“It still feels unreal. It’s such an amazing honor and such a big responsibility Beth Maloney at the same time,” Beth said. “I just feel really privileged that I’m able to represent the teachers of Arizona and, to an extent, the teachers of America. It’s just amazing. It feels absolutely wonderful.”


NLU Alumni Magazine “I will forever credit NLU for graduating me as a prepared teacher because I think a lot of people don’t always get that experience from their universities, and I always feel very lucky for that.” — Beth Maloney ’01, ’05 B.A. Elementary Education & M.Ed. Administration and Supervision

Beth is a teacher that embraces technology in the classroom, and that is something that caught the AEF’s eye during the Teacher of the Year selection process. Beth feels in her classroom that “we are all teachers.” Some teachers can be intimidated by new technology because, in a lot of cases, the kids will know more than them. But Beth sees it as a great opportunity to learn from her students and give them a chance to be the teacher. Beth recalled a day when her students taught her how to create code for web pages. “You never stop learning – even when you’re the teacher.” “I have a lot of enthusiasm for my students and learning in general,” Beth said. “I love to learn, and I think that enthusiasm is naturally conveyed to my students. I hope that I leave them with an understanding that learning doesn’t stop just because you’re not in school; learning is something you do because you have a thirst for it and you have questions that you want answered.” Beth has enjoyed great success in the classroom, and she credits National Louis University for giving her the tools to succeed. Small classes with individual instruction from professors provided a special experience that Beth remembers fondly. Beth’s first teaching opportunity arose after a teacher

Photo Courtesy of Pam Reilly

NLU alumnae Beth Maloney (left) and Pam Reilly attended a ceremony at the White House honoring the Teachers of the Year from across the country.

left in the middle of the school year and created an urgent vacancy. And even though Beth felt like she was being thrown into the fire, she knew she was fully prepared to handle the challenge of her new position after completing her undergraduate experience at NLU. “I truly feel like my NLU education gave me so much more preparation for becoming a classroom teacher than my peers


got from other institutions,” Beth said. “I will forever credit NLU for graduating me as a prepared teacher because I think a lot of people don’t always get that experience from their universities, and I always feel very lucky for that.” And the students at Sunset Hills Elementary school are very lucky to have Beth for a teacher. The world may have lost a potentially great veterinarian, but it gained a great teacher.

NLU Alumni Magazine

Student gets second chance through education By Mark Donahue

Like many adult learners at NLU, Alphonso Johnson experienced a moment of realization about the course of his life: he wanted to commit himself to living up to his full potential, as a worker, a student and a member of the community. There’s only one difference. He experienced this epiphany in jail. “My last time in prison I told myself you’ve got to grow up,” he said. “You can’t blame anybody. You can’t justify or rationalize your behavior. You just have to grow up. You have to take the same effort and energy you used to create this criminal person and redirect that energy and effort into building who you are.” A native of the old Cabrini-Green housing project on Chicago’s North Side, Alphonso was a selfdescribed troubled teen, and like most teens, he said, he was searching for an identity. In a neighborhood where options were limited and criminals revered, he fell into gang activity and selling drugs, driven by a desire to fit in. Trouble followed.

Photo by James Richards IV - National Louis University

Alphonso Johnson welcomes the opportunity to pursue a degree after his troubled beginnings. He hopes to one day start a community support program for at-risk youth so they don’t end up on the same negative path he was once on.

Alphonso was first arrested at age 14, tried as an adult and served time till he turned 21. He did two more stints in prison, of 17 and 30 months each. His criminal life had indeed become like another person — an alter ego, he said — and he’d cultivated it for more than 20 years. Alphonso came to see that he must stop or he would end up in jail for the rest of his life or even dead — and that meant

denying the false aspirations he’d grown up with. “I realized that what I thought was normal because you see it so often every day, stepping outside of that, I found that it was actually abnormal,” he said. Driven by this new sense of purpose, Alphonso began to pursue two tracks to put his life in order: work and school. For the latter, he was inspired by his sister, April, an NLU MBA graduate, and also his wife, Nesha, who graduated in February with a degree in criminal justice from the University of Phoenix. Alphonso looked into what NLU could offer, initially enrolling in the Bachelor’s in Human Services program.

“I can’t make up the time I’ve lost. I can only step up and take advantage of the time I have now to become a more responsible and positive, productive member of society.”

Former felons have limited work options, so Alphonso turned to Helen Roy, Career Readiness Advisor at NLU, for advice. She helped tune up his resume and encouraged him to do volunteer work to gain

— Alphonso Johnson NLU student


NLU Alumni Magazine positive momentum and make connections. And it was while volunteering at St. Leonard’s Ministries teaching GED classes that he saw an ad for a rail-car servicer apprenticeship program with the Chicago Transit Authority. The nine-month apprenticeship gave ex-offenders a second chance, joining the crews that clean CTA trains. Alphonso was interviewed and then accepted into the program. Recognizing it as a special opportunity, he committed himself to showing up and working hard on the evening shift. After just six months, Alphonso said he helped develop a better method for chemically cleaning graffiti from the trains, a time- and moneysaving process now being implemented throughout the CTA. This accomplishment gained Alphonso some acclaim, and in December he was asked by CTA leaders to help advocate for the ex-offender program by attending a press conference and telling his story. Ultimately the rail-car apprenticeship ended on the first of the year due to a conflict between the CTA and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308 over worker pay. But happily, the 65 current apprentices have since been moved into a similar bus cleaning program to save their jobs. Alphonso became a full-time CTA employee at the end of December 2013 and avoided this transition. And he’s now finding he’s in demand. Recently he accepted an achievement award from Illinois Department of Corrections officials and state Rep. Camille

Photo by Ted Cox - DNAinfo

Alphonso Johnson spoke during a press conference advocating for the CTA’s exoffender program. The conference was attended by U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, both proponents of the program.

Lilly. He’s been asked to speak to young people coming out of minimum security prisons. And he’s set to receive an award from the West Side Health Authority. The attention can be overwhelming, Alphonso said, but he’s staying humble and grounded. He said his life is now full of the priceless things he could never have chasing a criminal lifestyle — a sense of pride and of peace. He’s part of a team that helps keep the city moving, and he no longer has to look over his shoulder in fear of the police or danger from the streets. His wife and his mother couldn’t be prouder, he said. It’s all a validation of that moment he experienced in prison and what he’s done since. “I can’t make up the time I’ve lost,” he said. “I can only step up and take advantage of the time I have now to become a


more responsible and positive, productive member of society”. At NLU, Alphonso continues to pursue his studies, finding support from faculty and staff. He’s since changed his major to business administration and wants to start a community support program that will help at-risk young people find a path away from crime and violence. He hopes to get corporate investment to provide real economic alternatives for youth by offering jobs and encouraging education, whether it’s college or trade school. And he’ll continue to tell his story. He said it’s the least he can do for the second chance he’s been given. “Any time, any place, anywhere that I’m able to share my story to inspire someone else, I’m there,” he said “Because that’s another form of restorative justice to me.”

NLU Alumni Magazine

Get Involved With Your Alma Mater By Kimberly Michaelson

One of the best parts of my job is the chance to harness the energy and enthusiasm of alumni who want to give back to the NLU community. It is a special honor to mobilize individuals and groups and to create programs that continually prove our University’s power to the world. Last fall, Gerie Kay (NCE, Class of ’62) and Arline Doblin (NCE, Class of ‘68) worked with me to chair a group of 30 alumni, staff, students and friends that helped staff the day care center for the children of PGA golfers at the BMW Golf Championship tournament in Lake Forest, IL. A New York Times article published in conjunction with the tournament stated how important it is for the golfers’ focus to keep their families close while they are on tour. This was such an excellent representation of NLU’s reputation and our extended work with children. I also partnered with alumna Lois Zoller, (NCE, Class of ’62) to create an extension of “Chicago: Beyond These Times,” a largescale series of events we hold in partnership with the Golden Apple Foundation and Chicago Shakespeare Theater to address issues on the future of education. An audience of education leaders from the Chicagoland area gathered to hear a Chicago School Board member, a leader from a local parent group and a director of a not-for-profit organization talk about education. The power of this conversation motivated people to take action in their own communities, as

Photo by Brian Kush ~ National Louis University

(l to r) Ben Todd ’04, Gustavo Espinosa ’12, Alumni Director Kimberly Michaelson, and Keith Plummer ’04 at National Louis University’s CMB networking event last summer.

two of the attendees were inspired to host similar events. In an effort to promote our Master of Business Administration degree, three alumni spoke on behalf of NLU’s MBA program at an event headlined by Dean Christopher Cassirer. Keith Plummer (CMB, Class of ‘04), Ben Todd (CMB, Class of ’99) and Gustavo Espinosa (CMB, Class of ’12) spoke about why they chose NLU for their MBA. They also talked about how the degree helped them in their career achievements. Finally, the power of individual willingness deserves special recognition. So many of the calls I field are from alumni seeking a helping hand from other alumni. JoAnn Fisher (CAS, Class of ’90) has mentored several alumni in the D.C. area. Sheila Gross


(CMB, Class of ’00) is just one of our alumni working with our Career Development Office to place interns at her employer. These stories represent just a fraction of the interested parties in the NLU alumni community. What can you do to join the ranks and give back to students and alumni to show your NLU pride? If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact me at 312.261.3159. or

Carey Smith ~ National Louis University

NLU alumna Lois Zoller ’62 hosted a conversation series on education.

NLU Alumni Magazine News and Notes

nlu recognized for dedication to military

Faculty News

By Mark Donahue

Carlos Azcoitia, Ed.D., NCE, was interviewed by Univision for their national program “Primer Impacto.” The topic of the interview was the prevention of violence and how safe passage routes are being organized to protect students if their schools were closed due to budgetary and demographic considerations. Univision approached Dr. Azcoitia for his roles as NLU Professor of Practice and member of the Chicago Board of Education.

The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a U.S. Department of Defense office that promotes cooperation and understanding between Reserve Component service members and their civilian employers, recently honored National Louis University with the Seven Seals Award and the Patriot Award. Both awards reflect NLU’s support of citizen warriors in the military and workplace. In partnership with the ESGR, NLU leadership also signed the Statement of Support (SOS), demonstrating that the University backs NLU employees who participate in the U.S. National Guard and Reserve. NLU is only the second university in Illinois to earn the Seven Seals Award and the sixth university in the state to sign the SOS.

Marjorie Roth Leon, Ph.D., NCE, and College of Lake County faculty member Nicholas Schevera presented a paper at the annual Illinois Community College Faculty Association Teaching and Learning Excellence Conference. Their paper was titled “I Need a Hero: Using Popular Culture to Enhance Student Learning.”

During the ceremony, Nivine Megahed, Ph.D., NLU President, was surprised with the Patriot Award for her ongoing work supporting NLU students, faculty and staff members serving in the Reserve and National Guard through a wide range of measures, including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families, and granting leaves of absence if needed. Specifically, Dr. Megahed has been very supportive of NLU’s Veterans Program, which advances post-9/11 returning military and veteran students, as well as their dependents, on academic and professional paths.

Kristin Lems, Ed.D., and Jason Stegemoller, Ph.D., NCE, presented a workshop on Oct. 29 at the National STEMtech Conference in Atlanta, GA, titled “Unpacking the language of STEM for English language learners.”

Alumni News Margaret St. Claire, ‘94, M.Ed., has been named the new principal at Lake Bluff Elementary school in Lake Bluff, IL. Montie R. Apostolos ‘03, M.A.T., has published a new book titled “Fret Not Thyself.” Jeffery McClellan ’13, Ed.D., was invited to the State of the Union address by President Obama in January for his work in Cleveland as principal of the MC2 STEM High School. Jeff and his school have become very well known throughout the U.S. STEM school community. Kelly Thompson, Ed.D., Certificate of Advanced Studies in Educational Leadership, has been named President of Culver-Stockton College in Canton, MO. She is the first woman to hold the position.

Photo by James Richards IV - National Louis University

NLU President Nivine Megahed (r) is presented with the Patriot Award by State Chair Ron Bacci, Illinois Committee of ESGR.


Join us for the Star-Studded

Writers’ Week Workshops! Saturday, July 19 and Saturday, July 26 NLU Chicago CAmpus • 122 S. Michigan Ave.

Sponsored by the Master of Science in Written Communication Program • Comedy Writing with Nate Herman • Profiles with Rick Kogan

Single workshops are $30 or participants can attend all five workshops, plus Saturday lunch with the authors, for a special rate of $100.

• Finding your Voice with Dawn Turner Trice • Memoir and Creative Nonfiction with Tom Montgomery Fate

Information on workshop formats, attending for course credit and registering is available at:

• W  riting about Sex and Relationships with Marjie Killeen

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