Page 1


The Future We Create

Inspiring stories of achievement in and around the NLU community


Message From the President

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

Dear Friends, Of all the events that I preside over as President of NLU, the one that touches me the deepest and uplifts me the most is our Commencement. I am privileged to watch our students walk across the stage to receive their diplomas, and humbled that I get to be a part of this chapter in the future they are writing for themselves.

New York Times Reporter’s Tales Thrill NLU Audience................................. 4 Experience Learning Builds and Showcases Talent.............................. 5 Positioned for Maximum Impact............. 6 One Intense and EPIC Week .................. 7 Pointing the Future in the Right Direction................................... 8

I’m reminded of one of Abraham Lincoln’s favored quotes, a few simple, but profound words:

The Best Place for Apple Picking? NLU................................ 10

“The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

News and Notes .................................... 10

Eleven words that remind us that we all have the power to decide what we want in our future, and then to actually make it happen. You, our alumni, have all created your futures. The moment you chose to pursue and complete your education you took the future into your own hands.

Institutional Advancement Staff

To our newest alums, welcome to the long line of NLU graduates who have created their own destinies, many of whom are helping to shape the futures of others. I welcome you to this distinguished group and applaud you on your accomplishments both here and the many still to come. Please join me in congratulating the NLU Class of 2015.

Genti Basha, Research and Prospect Analyst Karen Galea, Director of External Funding and Grant Development Danielle LaPointe, Director of Advancement Services Sandy Rai, Institutional Advancement Coordinator Brian Russell, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations Carey Smith, Special Events Manager

Best regards to all,

Nivine Megahed, Ph.D., President

Managing Editor:

Staff Photographer:

Nicholas A. Love

James Richards IV

Alumni Relations nl.edu/alumni 312.261.3166 or alumni@nl.edu

Support the NLU Annual Fund nl.edu/giving


The First Word

A Little Help from Fried Bologna By Rebecca Estrada ‘12 Master of Business Administration

I grew up eating fried bologna sandwiches. I should clarify that it was on tortillas and not bread, so essentially it was a taco. This was the easy, quick and cheap way to eat, as I was raised by a single mom on the South Side of Chicago with three daughters to feed. I also ate eggs with hot dogs. My husband claims he has never eaten that; little does he know that I have made it for him many times, but I just cut the hot dogs in small chunks. I share this with you not to discuss my culinary expertise, but because I am proud of how my upbringing has made me the person I am today. I’ve always known education is important. My mother struggled and worked two jobs to have my sisters and me attend private schools.

She always encouraged us to stay in school and get our education — to become strong, independent women. After receiving my bachelor’s degree, I thought my job was done and I had accomplished my goals. By that time, I already had my family. I was married with the house, kids and the dog. I was working full time and felt good about the work I was doing. But after attending an orientation for the Leadership Through Education program at El Valor, a social services agency serving the Latino community in Chicago’s near-South side Pilsen neighborhood, and learning of the partnership with National Louis University, I knew I had to do more. I did not want to stay comfortable in a position where I was not able to make major decisions. So I enrolled in the MBA program at NLU. I remember doing my homework with the kids at


restaurants and at the dining room table. I even took my computer with me when we would go on vacation so I could make sure my assignments were submitted on time. My kids saw that and shared in my experience. Today I am proud to work as the Senior Director of Programs and Quality Assurance at Erie Neighborhood House, a social service agency that promotes social justice, empowers families and educates communities in West Town and surrounding neighborhoods in Chicago. I am able to work in the same communities that I grew up in and to give back to the people who have helped me. And when I am stressed thinking about the Illinois state budget crisis and trying to think of solutions for our organization, then I have a fried bologna taco to help.

NLU Alumni Magazine

New York Times Reporter’s Tales Thrill NLU Audience When Jeffrey Gettleman told a roomful of people at National Louis University how masked gunmen blockaded his car near Fallujah, Iraq, and approached him with guns drawn, listeners could almost feel a shiver going through the audience. Gettleman, the New York Times Bureau Chief for East Africa, came to NLU in February as part of the M.S. in Written Communications program’s Pulitzer Prize Series. Joanne Koch, Ph.D., director of the program, brings in Pulitzer winners to share their wisdom with the university community; Gettleman, a native of Evanston, Illinois, won the award in 2012 for his reporting on the famine and turmoil in Somalia.

Watch the Pulitzer event at


Back in 2004, however, Gettleman had been stationed in Iraq, and that was when he had a brush with death. He was with a photographer, a translator, driver and guards when the gunmen stopped them and ordered Gettleman out of the car. “I stepped out, this guy pushed me away from everybody, lined his gun up and chambered a bullet,” Gettleman recalled. “This all happened so fast. I felt totally powerless.” Fortunately for his survival, he had slipped his U.S. passport to the female photographer, who hid it in her jeans. Gettleman thought quickly and decided to tell the gunmen he was Greek. Greece was one of the few Western


countries which was not part of the U.S.-led coalition occupying Iraq. “And they have a good soccer team. Iraqis love soccer,” he explained. He spent hours keeping up the Greek ruse, persevering through intense questioning. Finally, before dusk, the Iraqi captors decided to let them go. “When we got back to the bureau, everybody was waiting for us, hugged us and started bawling,” the journalist said. “At that moment I realized they had counted us for dead and it was like we had come back to life.” Gettleman also told of more recent coverage, when he went to Sierra Leone last summer. He visited a teenage girl who was sick with Ebola, and got frustrated that no one would put her in a vehicle and drive her to the treatment center, which was not far. When she died on the third day, he felt infuriated, depressed and regretful he hadn’t done more. Asked how he can find the emotional strength to keep covering Africa’s wars, diseases, famines, anarchy and epidemics, he reflected, “I get some weariness at times, but there are still things that really move me.” Koch responded, “Your sense of caring about the individual people just shines through everything. It’s so gratifying to know that degree of caring is still around.”

NLU Alumni Magazine

Experience Learning Builds and Showcases Talent



The Creative Slam included karaoke-style singing performances (top), a poetry reading (middle) and an improv comedy performance where P.A.C.E. students and staff rotated in and out of a scene (bottom).

By Nicholas A. Love

The Creative Slam Fundraiser is a staple of the school year for the Professional Assistance Center for Education (P.A.C.E.) program, with P.A.C.E. alumni clamoring for event details long before any of the planning even begins. P.A.C.E. is a two-year, post-secondary program offered by National Louis University, designed to meet the transitional needs of young adults with multiple learning disabilities. A hallmark of P.A.C.E. is experiential learning, which is exactly what happens at the Creative Slam, a student-directed fundraising event that includes performances from students, family members and program alumni. This year’s audience members, while pondering how many raffle tickets to purchase and which silent auction item to bid on, were entertained with dance routines, readings from a selection of creative writing, a variety of singing performances and improv comedy. The Creative Slam is coordinated and overseen by Lauren Kornhauser, the staff member responsible for all

the service learning components of the P.A.C.E. program. She provides a framework to guide the students, and they spend the whole winter quarter planning and preparing every aspect of the event. Kornhauser delivers guidance and assistance to students during the planning process, but she doesn’t solve every problem that arises. It is important for the event planners-intraining to experience and adapt to challenges, quirks and unforeseen problems. When things go wrong, it is all part of the learning process. After the Creative Slam is over, Kornhauser leads the students in a time of reflection and review. “I like to see it in their faces and watch them figure it out, or not figure it out. We go back and see what glitches we had. Then I know that they learned something.” While the Creative Slam provides a wealth of learning experiences, the students have the added bonus of internalizing a sense of pride for accomplishing something tangible. This year the money raised was put towards the P.A.C.E. program winter formal and towards funding P.A.C.E. program scholarships. Because of all that is achieved by the Creative Slam, many of the students in the P.A.C.E. program finish out the fundraiser with a deeply satisfied sense of “wow – we did that!”

Learn more about P.A.C.E. at 5


NLU Alumni Magazine

Positioned for Maximum Impact

Three time-tested appointments ensure NLU students will achieve and inspire By Nicholas A. Love

This year at National Louis University, three seasoned leaders were appointed to new administrative positions. The list of achievements from these three individuals starts within the university and extends out into urban school districts, non-profits and even a national task force. In the competitive and ever-changing field of higher education, the quality of leadership is crucial. University leaders need to have a vision for generating positive impact within an institution of higher learning and outside the institution in the marketplace, among leaders and practitioners in their fields. For NLU, it could be said another way — professionals who achieve, people who inspire — the university tagline. Those who have had the pleasure of working with these three in their previous roles will know them to be dedicated and passionate individuals who exemplify excellence in the quality they invest in their work. Congratulations to Alison Hilsabeck, Ph.D., Ignacio Lopez, Ed.D., and Judah Viola, Ph.D., on their well-deserved appointments.

Alison Hilsabeck, Ph.D. Provost

Hilsabeck joined NLU over 10 years ago as Associate Dean for the National College of Education (NCE), transitioning to Dean of NCE, then to Executive Dean. Last summer she accepted the position of Vice Provost for Academic Programs, Faculty Development and Research. A 2012 recipient of a Luminary Leadership Award for her work as board chair for the Eleanor Women’s Foundation, she has served as the co-chair of the Council of Chicago Area Deans of Education, as well as a committee on 21st Century Schools of Education and a national task force on teacher retention, both for the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education.

Ignacio Lopez, Ed.D.

Judah Viola, Ph.D.

Lopez, who is now a tenured Associate Professor, began as an adjunct professor in the Educational Psychology department, and later joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor in the Secondary Education department. In 2012, he became a Unit Director and last year he became Assistant Dean in the National College of Education.

Viola is a tenured faculty member, and previously served as Director of the College of Professional Studies and Advancement’s School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Co-Director of the Community Psychology doctoral program, Faculty Chair of the College of Arts and Sciences, Chair of the Psychology Department and Chair of the Institutional Research Review Board.

Vice Provost for Academic Programs, Faculty Development and Research

He has advised and engaged in collaborative research with several large urban school districts throughout the United States, focusing on equity in schools, teacher leadership and family engagement.


Dean of the College of Professional Studies and Advancement

He regularly consults non-profits and government agencies on research and evaluation. He is an active leader for the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children and a number of other professional organizations.

NLU Alumni Magazine

One Intense and EPIC Week By Nicholas A. Love

Early this year, high school students were able to experience a slice of life as a teacher at the National Louis University Chicago campus, or as one student put it, they were able to enjoy “a truly awesome profession.” The students in question were from EPIC Academy, a public charter high school in the South Chicago neighborhood of Chicago. EPIC was founded by veterans of urban education, with a perspective that one of the major challenges teenagers face in underserved communities is a lack of belief in their own ability to achieve. At EPIC, students are dared to imagine as much as they are prepared to succeed. This desire, to both inspire and prepare, is behind the Enrichment Intensives provided through EPIC. These weeklong learning opportunities allow students to experience the responsibilities and challenges managed by working professionals, and open students to career possibilities they might not have otherwise considered. This is the second year that NLU, one

of the oldest schools of education, has partnered on an Enrichment Intensive to introduce EPIC Academy high school students to the awesome profession of teaching. The majority of EPIC students agree that, at the end of an Enrichment Intensive, they feel more confident about their success in the career field they were able to experience. According to NLU alumnus Matthew King ’07, M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision, Principal at EPIC Academy, this confidence blooms because students get to interact with professionals on their own turf. “When a student has put all this work into a presentation and it goes well – maybe not perfectly, but it goes well – students get a chance to sit back and really see themselves as accomplishing something, and something in the role of a professional, not just as a student.” This professional accomplishment gives EPIC Academy students an edge and a drive that they might not otherwise have, coming from communities with a low rate of successful college experience.

“Thank you for sharing your stories about why you chose to become a teacher. You’ve made me look into being a math teacher in the future.” - EPIC Academy Student, Enrichment Intensive at NLU

EPIC students do not have to just imagine what it looks like to be a successful teacher, or learn about the education profession secondhand. With the past Enrichment Intensives, hosted at NLU, these students were able to live the teaching life.

“This experience made me feel like a real teacher, which has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl.” - EPIC Academy Student, Enrichment Intensive at NLU


NLU Alumni Magazine


Pointing the Future in the Right Direction NLU celebrates five distinguished alumni at annual fundraiser By Nicholas A. Love

Congratulations to the distinguished honorees of the 2015 Reach Award: • • • • •

Evelyn Chenier ’03 and ’11 Elizabeth Dozier ’08 Rebecca Estrada ’12 Josh Fine ’04 Darrell Williams ’03

National Louis University’s twelfth annual Reach Awards Gala honors NLU alumni who have improved themselves and their communities through education. The recipients of the award represent all corners of the university, including the Professional Assistance Center for Education (P.A.C.E.) program and, for the first time this year, the Veterans Program. The gala is one of the university’s most prestigious functions, attended by members of the board of trustees, senior administrators and faculty members. It took place among

some of the most iconic displays at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, including the worldfamous “Sue,” the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered. During the silent auction portion of Reach, the lively atmosphere was anything but silent as attendees chatted and enjoyed the traveling hors d’oeuvres. So engaging was the conversation, that the master of ceremonies could only coax people into their seats and begin dinner with the threat of no dessert. At the presentation of the awards, the evening hit a more serious note. In their acceptance speeches, Chenier and Williams detailed their deep commitment to guiding the next generation. And the room was mournfully silent after Dozier dedicated her award to a student killed in a shooting only a week


before. Fine and Estrada followed with a touching reminder of the importance of family as a source of inspiration and gratitude. Scott Smith, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, concluded the Reach Gala with three simple words: pride, commitment and celebration. The Reach Award winners certainly are committed, and take deep pride in the work they do. While it is painful when tragedies happen in the midst of everything, it is important to celebrate the successes. Because, as Dozier stated at the end of her speech, the future is not some place that we go, but it is some place that we create. Watch the 2015 Reach Awards at


NLU Alumni Magazine “This award is a reflection of what is in each of our hearts. We each want to help influence and uplift our fellow community members.” Evelyn Chenier ‘03 and ‘11 College of Arts and Sciences

“I accept this award tonight on behalf of all those across our great city who dare greatly every single day on behalf of our children.” Elizabeth Dozier ‘08 National College of Education

“When someone asks me about myself, my first response is that I’m a mom. And I am very proud of all my three children that are here with me today. I have dedicated my life’s work for my children.” Rebecca Estrada ‘12 College of Management and Business

“I would also like to thank my wife, who I met at the P.A.C.E. program. It was love at first sight — it sure was.” Josh Fine ‘04 P.A.C.E.

“Going from the ‘hood to the [White] House is very inspiring to me, and I use that when I talk to students throughout the Maryland-D.C.-Virginia area at different career days.” Darrell Williams ‘03 Veterans Program


NLU Alumni Magazine

The Best Place for Apple Picking? NLU By Nicholas A. Love

It is Golden Apple season, and this year five National Louis University alumni have been formally recognized with this educational achievement award. The five awardees combine Golden Apple recipients from the Chicago Golden Apple Foundation and the Golden Apple Foundation of Rockford (Illinois). Between Chicago and Rockford, 67 NLU alumni have received the annual Golden Apple Award. Congratulations to this year’s outstanding teachers.

Visit blog.nl.edu to read more about the Golden Apple presentations.



Fontane Thomas, M.A.T. in Early Childhood Education, a 2015 Golden Apple Award recipient, is a pre-K teacher at Stephen K. Hayt Elementary School in Chicago.

Sonya Fields, Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, a 2015 Golden Apple Award recipient, is a second-grade teacher at Arthur Dixon Elementary School in Chicago.

Amy Orvis, M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, James Schoepski, M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, and Laurie Meyer, M.Ed. in Teaching, Learning and Assessment are 2015 Golden Apple Award recipients.

News and Notes Ron Brashear ‘01, B.A. Applied Behavioral Sciences, co-wrote a new book with Rahaman Ali titled “That’s Muhammad Ali’s Brother! My Life on the Undercard,” a behind-the-scenes recollection of growing up alongside the famous boxing icon.

Marcus Campbell ‘14, Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, was featured in the January 14 edition of the Evanston RoundTable for his work as the Evanston Township High School Principal in Evanston, Illinois. Ryan DeBora ‘03, M.A.T in Administration and Supervision, was named by the Naperville School District 203 Board of Education as principal of Maplebrook Elementary in Naperville, Illinois.

Katherine Y. Brown ‘05, Ed.D. in Adult Education, was presented with the 2015 Athena Young Professional Leadership Award. Angela Brown Burke ‘15, Ed.D. in Adult Education, is an elected official in Jamaica who was recognized for the recent completion of her doctoral work at National Louis University.

Lauren Sternfield Fagel ‘07, M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision and John Finan ‘14, Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, were hired as principals by the Glenbrook High Schools District 225 last month, the former at Glenbrook South in Glenbrook, Illinois, and the latter at Glenbrook North in Northbrook, Illinois.

Janet Burke ‘10, M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, was featured in the April 27 edition of the Daily Southtown as a 2015 Golden Apple Award finalist.


NLU Alumni Magazine Mike Feinberg ‘05, M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision, and Dave Levin ‘05, M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision and ‘14 Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, both received a National Community Service Award for their work as co-founders of the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP).

Devon LaRosa ‘11, M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision and ‘09 M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, was named the new principal for DundeeCrown High School in Carpentersville, Illinois. Heather McCarthy ‘08, M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, has partnered with her friend and colleague to write personalized picture books for young children with special needs.

Catherine M. Finger ‘94, Ed.D. in Instructional Leadership, was honored as a Superintendent of Distinction for her work at Grayslake Community High School District 127 in Grayslake, Illinois.

Laura Muñoz Noon ‘97, M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision, was appointed as principal of Highlands Elementary School in Naperville, Illinois.

William Griffin ‘11, Ed.D. in Community College Leadership, was elected to serve another term on the board of trustees for the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois.

Paul O’Malley ‘12, Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, was appointed as superintendent for Norridge School District 80 in Norridge, Illinois.

Lois Hammill ‘05, B.S. in Management, was recognized as the National Association of Professional Women VIP Woman of the Year.

Paul Pryma ‘13, Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, retired after 10 years as principal at Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook, Illinois, and 34 years in education. He is the author of “Coaches of Chicago: Inspiring Stories About Leadership and Life.”

David A. Helfer ‘85, B.A. in Applied Behavioral Sciences and ‘93 M.S. in Adult and Continuing Education, has earned the professional designation of Certified Medical Practice Executive, achieving board certification in medical practice management through a national medical management association.

Tricia Raimondi ‘07, M.A. in Psychology, was hired as a prevention program case manager at Homeless Connections, a social service agency in the Fox Valley region of northern Illinois.

Amy Houlihan ‘12, M.A.T. in Elementary Education, was appointed by the school board of Schaumburg Township Elementary School District 54 as an assistant principal, split between Anne Fox Elementary and Hanover Highlands Elementary, both located in Hanover Park, Illinois.

Barry Rodgers ‘99, M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, was appointed as assistant superintendent for both Lake Forest District 67 and District 115, serving Lake Forest, Illinois, and the surrounding community. Jackie Samuel ‘11, M.A. Public Policy and currently a candidate for a Ph.D. in Community Psychology, was a contributing expert in two articles for Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Chicago.

Bernadette Jones ‘14, M.S. in Written Communication, and Jai Love ‘14, M.S. in Written Communication, contributed to the Chicago Writers Bloc New Play Festival 2015 at the Piven Theatre in Evanston, Illinois.

Debbie Sykora ‘89, M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, was elected as secretary by the school board of Valley View School District 65U, outside Chicago.

Patricia Kerrigan ‘87, M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision, was honored for her work with pediatric cancer patients with the Nan Songer Award, from a national association of pediatric specialists.

Cynthia Zarkowsky ‘96, M.A.T. in Elementary Education, was appointed to fill a vacancy on the board of education for the Kildeer Countryside School District 96, centered in Long Grove, Illinois.

Tom Koulentes ‘13, Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and ‘00 M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, was appointed as the principal of Highland Park High School in Highland Park, Illinois, after serving as interim principal.

Mike Zuleger ‘13, M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision, will serve as principal of St. Mary Catholic Middle School when it opens next school year in Neenah, Wisconsin.





Featuring Rick Kogan, Marjie Killeen, Nate Herman, Dawn Turner Trice and Rick Perlstein

SATURDAYS, JULY 18 and JULY 25 NATIONAL LOUIS UNIVERSITY 122 S. MICHIGAN AVE. Sponsored by the Master of Science in Written Communication Program Single workshops are $30 each or participants can attend all five workshops, plus Saturday lunch with the authors, for a special rate of $100.

For more information and registration go to nl.edu/writersweek

NLU Alumni

CAREER SERVICES Take advantage of Career Services, even as an alum! •

Lifetime access to free 1:1 appointments with career advisors at the Chicago, Lisle and Wheeling campuses, as well as appointments over the phone

• Resume, cover letter and LinkedIn reviews • Lifetime access to CareerBeam, the online job search coach • Lifetime access to Hire NLU, the online job board • Free admittance to all NLU job fairs

Contact Us!

You can contact Career Services at careerdevelopment@nl.edu or 312.261.3270. Visit nl.edu/careerdevelopment to find out more information.

Profile for NLUalumni

NLU Alumni Magazine Spring/Summer 2015  

NLU Alumni Magazine Spring/Summer 2015  

Profile for nlualumni