USF Challenge Center Offers Team Building Activities

Joliet, Ill. – The successful performance of any team depends on effective relationships. If you are looking for a fun, affordable, local option for the team building needs for your department, group or organization, look no further than the University of St. Francis (USF) Challenge Center in Joliet.

Opened in June 2011, the USF Challenge Center offers a variety of programs that emphasize skills and behaviors necessary for effective leadership. Through tailored, action-based learning experiences led by USF’s certified Challenge Course facilitators, teams will practice the interpersonal behaviors needed for high-level performance. Groups can schedule an on-campus program at the outdoor USF Challenge Center (located behind the LaVerne and Dorothy Brown Library on Taylor Street), or you can schedule an off-site program at a location of your choosing. Whatever the setting, USF’s facilitators will utilize a unique mix of portable activities and group facilitation tools to target customized learning outcomes.

“Teams are more productive when members feel effective in their roles,” said Syd Sklar, USF Challenge Center Director. “Through the power of play, our programs encourage groups to combine creativity and effective decision-making strategies to establish empowering team environments. Teams will benefit from the opportunity to practice critical thinking skills, develop new points of view, and build stronger relationships.”

Team-oriented games, puzzles, and experiential challenge activities are used to address themes of communication, trust, leadership, diversity, inclusion, dependability and accountability and can be designed for groups of all ages. Newly added in 2018, the center offers high adventure activities of Crate Stacking and Power Pole, each providing an exhilarating physical experience.

“The themes our programs address have universal applications,” Sklar added. “The experiences at the Challenge Center are transferrable to work, school, life and relationships.”

The Challenge Center serves school districts, park districts, day camps and forest preserve teams. Programming is available year-round.

For more information, program rates, or to book an event, visit stfrancis.edu/usf-challenge-center, email challengecenter@stfrancis.edu or call 815-740-3367.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 52,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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WCSF Mega Music Rummage Sale Set for October 24

WCSF

Joliet, Ill. – WCSF-88.7 FM, the radio station of the University of St. Francis (USF) is hosting its annual Mega Music Rummage Sale on Sunday, October 24 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at USF’s St. Clare Campus, which is located at 1550 Plainfield Road in Joliet. Admission to the event is free. Thousands of items will be for sale at the event, including vinyl LPs, 45s, 78s, CDs, DVDs, video games, sheet music, 8-tracks, cassettes, instruments, audio equipment, and many more music-related items. Early bird admission starts at 7:30 a.m. with a suggested $20 donation. All proceeds support the educational mission of WCSF-88.7 FM.

WCSF is currently accepting donations of LPs, 45s, CDs, video games and DVDs. Please contact WCSF by telephone at 815-740-3697 to arrange a pick-up or drop-off.

WCSF- 88.7 FM is well known in the greater Joliet area as the home of the popular “Spirit of Christmas” programming that is broadcasted each year from Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Day. During the rest of the year, the station plays a great mix of new, alternative, independent and local music programmed and operated by USF students. The station is available on the radio and online at wcsf.streamon.fm.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 52,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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USF Student Elected to the ICB Board of Directors

Joliet, Ill. – University of St. Francis (USF) recently announced that student Monika Gomez has been elected to a two-year term on the Illinois Certification Board (ICB). Gomez, who began her term earlier this month, will be filling a newly created Board seat and will be representing students enrolled in ICB-accredited training programs in the State of Illinois.

This past May, Gomez graduated Cum Laude from USF with a bachelor’s degree in substance abuse counseling. At that time, Gomez also began coursework at USF toward a master’s degree in social work in pursuit of plans to become a licensed clinical social worker where she can apply her tremendous passion for the field of mental health and substance abuse counseling.

“As student advisor of the Illinois Certification Board, I am thrilled to help in not only ensuring that students are getting the most out of their education/training program but ensuring that the population we serve is getting the best quality treatment. I am so excited to have been provided this opportunity and I look forward to what the next year will bring,” Gomez said.

Jessica Hayes, ICB Executive Director, offered that Gomez presents many positives in her new role with the organization.

“It is with great pleasure the ICB announces the addition of Monika Gomez to the Board of Directors. Ms. Gomez was seated, by unanimous vote, as the Student Advisor for this term. Passion and energy are the words that come to mind within the first few minutes of interacting with Ms. Gomez. A breath of fresh air, coupled with a sound knowledge base, Ms. Gomez will serve as a voice for students in the ICB Accredited Training Programs,” said Hayes.

Lawrence (Larry) Dunbar, USF Substance Abuse Counseling Program coordinator and instructor, believes Gomez’s preparation and passion will have wide-reaching impact.

“I am so excited for Monika and very proud of all she has accomplished in her coursework and in her internships. I am confident that she is going to bring her passion and dedication to helping other individuals, and their families, rebuild their lives. She will be a wonderful asset to the ICB Board,” Dunbar said.

About the ICB Board of Directors

The ICB Board of Directors is responsible for the workings of the ICB, which serves as the certification organization for human service professionals such as substance abuse counselors, prevention specialists and recovery specialists. The ICB Board of Directors also oversees the executive director of ICB, maintains the organization’s code of ethics, develops new certifications, and ensures that certification exams are up-to-date, reliable and defensible. Visit iaodapca.org for more information.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 52,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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Vaccination Incentive Grant for On-Campus Students

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) is offering a $500 incentive grant for on-campus students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before fall classes begin on the school’s Joliet and Albuquerque campuses.

“As we look forward as a campus community to a much closer-to-normal academic year, COVID-19 vaccination is our best and readily available tool to safeguard ourselves and those around us. As an added incentive, and in gratitude for keeping yourself and others safe, all fully vaccinated on-campus USF students will receive a $500 COVID Vaccination Grant for the Fall 2021 semester,” said vice president for admissions Eric Wignall.

The university’s guidelines strongly recommend that all students be fully vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus.

USF’s COVID Vaccination Grant is designed as an incentive to be awarded this fall to all on-campus students providing valid proof of COVID-19 vaccination. The grant is a $500 tuition incentive to all new or returning students at the Joliet, Illinois and Albuquerque, New Mexico campuses for the university. This includes all full-time and part-time students living on campus or commuting.

“And this is for every USF student: part-time, full-time, living on campus, or commuting to campus. Students qualify for the COVID Vaccination Grant with a valid proof of full vaccination before the start of fall semester on August 23rd,” Wignall added.

The university weathered last year’s COVID-19 closures and stay-at-home orders with a low number of cases. “The incentive grant is just another strategy to keep our campuses safe. We want everyone to be safe and protect themselves from this new virus,” Wignall said.

“Our USF Crisis Management Team continues to strongly encourage all students and employees to get vaccinated,” Wignall said. “If our campus can reach a point where the majority of our students are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, we will have a much safer, more flexible campus for classes, athletic events, and activities on campus in the fall.”

“This grant also applies to our Graduate Physician Assistant Studies students on our campus in Albuquerque, New Mexico,” he added.

“All three major U.S. vaccinations from Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson qualify. The latest a student can start the vaccination process and still receive the grant depends on the type of vaccine: Moderna’s first dose by July 25th, Pfizer’s first dose by August 1st, and the single J&J shot by August 8th,” he said.

“It’s an incentive to help everyone stay safe. Get the shot, protect yourself, and protect others at the same time,” Wignall said.

Students should contact healthservices@stfrancis.edu for questions and information on how to submit proof of vaccination. For more information on scheduling a vaccination, students can visit stfrancis.edu/saints-united or vaccines.gov.

Frequently asked questions about the grant:

  1. Does this grant carry over to the next year?

No, it is a one-time incentive to be vaccinated before fall semester, 2021.

2. I’m a graduate student, will I receive the grant?

Graduate students who are taking classes in person, on campus, and have proof of being fully vaccinated by August 23rd will receive the grant. Those who are eligible for the grant will receive it as a discount to tuition.

3. I have submitted my vaccine record when will I receive the grant

The grant will be applied to all eligible students shortly after classes begin (August 23rd).

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves some 3,600 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 52,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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The COMP Magazine Continues to Grow

Joliet, Ill. – When the University of St. Francis (USF) Art and Design Department created The COMP Magazine that launched in the spring of 2014, its primary purpose was to introduce students to art and music produced in Chicagoland. The online publication, which can be accessed at thecompmagazine.com, has since grown over the past eight years and has connected USF students and faculty with more than 250 artists, musicians and arts professionals. And they are just getting started.

The idea for The COMP Magazine originated back in 2013 as part of a portfolio development course being taught by USF professor Michael “Chester” Alamo-Costello, MFA.

“In 2013, Egzon Shaqiri, Jessica Cuevas, Jazzmyne Robbins and I began the online zine’s development during a Portfolio Development class. The COMP Magazine was created initially as a format for introducing our students to art and music produced in Chicagoland, and as a means for presenting our students efforts as art makers and writers. Chicago has one of the largest and productive artistic communities in the U.S. We emphasize to our students that they be familiar with contemporary art and music practices. The magazine was launched in March 2014,” Alamo-Costello said.

Shaqiri, who earned his Bachelor of Arts degree with a double concentration in graphic design and photography from USF in 2014, still vividly remembers his experience as the online publication’s lead designer.

“The COMP Magazine began as an effort to create a place to showcase the work of students and faculty members. Since the Art & Design Department was not located on the main campus, we wanted to create a platform that was accessible to all. While a traditional print magazine would have sufficed, my classmates and I decided it would be more cost-effective and engaging to create a website instead,” he said.

“At the time, I had very little experience in web design,” Shaqiri continued, “so over the summer, I dedicated my time and focus on learning the WordPress platform in order to create the website. After creating a high-fidelity prototype, we had to pitch the idea to the administration and all the stakeholders involved. The site would not have been possible if we did not get approval from these individuals, so it was extremely important to get buy-in on the vision before proceeding with the full build.”

Eight years later, Shaqiri is pleased to see that The COMP has stood the test of time.

“Although we thoughtfully designed the brand and the website to stand the test of time, I don’t think any of us had envisioned that the site would still be in use today. For that, I have to thank Professor Alamo-Costello and the students immensely for the effort they have contributed over the years to continue to grow the brand,” he said.

Shaqiri is now an experience designer at Salesforce. He, however, continues to remain involved with The COMP in an advisory capacity for two main reasons.

“My motivation to keep connected with The COMP stems from seeing the effort that the faculty and students give to continue to grow the brand. I also understand how important The COMP became in my career as a promotional tool to share with potential employers since it clearly demonstrated the technical and creative skills that these companies seek. Thus, I always love to see when students leverage the website as a catalyst for job placement,” he said.

Today, the magazine publishes a minimum of one new article each week, along with a variety of useful links to news and creative tips for artists of all backgrounds. Alamo-Costello said that, aside from faculty members helping to keep content ideas moving forward, students and their interests guide the magazine’s content.

“Students can propose a topic to cover related to the arts. We discuss the intent then outline a plan. This has developed into doing research outside of the classroom. For instance, I have secured press passes for students to cover music festivals and connect with curators at area museums. This has been a great format for introducing experiential learning opportunities,” Alamo-Costello said.

Alamo-Costello also noted that content is tied to current course content.

“Also, we tie content to courses being ran. This past spring in the Graphic Design History students were required to write piece on a designer, movement or process related to graphic design. We’ve found there’s a bit more incentive when the student realizes their writing will be read on the internet. Plus, this type of assignment offers an opportunity for the student to build their resume,” he added.

Emilia Torres, an art and design major, concentrating in graphic design, credited her experiences to date with The COMP have greatly impacted her creative skills.

“Many people have the conception that being an art student is making art all the time. At USF, that is simply not true. Being part of the COMP’s Creative Team has provided me with the opportunity to broaden my creative skills through brainstorming, researching, and writing. The process of writing a story can be quite similar to creating a piece of art. As an additional creative outlet, It has been exciting and meaningful to be part of The COMP magazine,” she said.

Torres added that exploring new creative outlets has been one of her greatest benefits of being a part of The COMP’s creative team.

“The COMP gives students a chance to explore a new creative outlet. Professor Alamo-Costello always encourages us to write about topics we are passionate about and that we feel like should be talked about. Media censorship is always talked about in our society. However, being able to feel safe and encouraged to write about topics we want is refreshing,” she said.

After graduating, Torres hopes to work for a company that keeps the well-being of the environment at its forefront.

“I aspire to work in a company which prioritizes eco-friendly practices. Specifically, I would like to focus on packaging design. I believe one of the ways companies can take a big step towards becoming more environmentally conscious is by implementing more eco-friendly packaging and I would like to be a part of such a project,” Torres said.

Visit stfrancis.edu/art-design to learn more about the USF Art & Design program.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 52,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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New Radio Show Discusses Social Justice and Equity

Joliet, Ill. – As Joliet’s university, the University of St. Francis (USF) has a rich tradition of being dedicated to the facilitation of healing. The new Pause for Justice Radio Show, which airs every Wednesday on WCSF 88.7 FM and streams worldwide on wcsf.streamon.fm, discusses social justice and equity through powerful conversations to promote healing.

While the show is still in its infancy, Allison Heard, the show’s host and USF Director of Institutional Diversity and Title IX Coordinator, already has several impressive guests lined up to appear throughout the coming months. Guests include: Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce’s new DEI Council chairs Mike Clark and Kristen Hamilton and Joliet Chamber president Jen Howard; Dr. Vishakha Desai, Senior Advisor for Global Affairs and Senior Research Scholar in Global Studies, Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs; David Masciotra, USF adjunct faculty member and author of “I Am Somebody: Why Jesse Jackson Matters”; global non-profit One Collective; and the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate Anti-Racism Committee. The show, which is produced by WCSF station manager Anthony Musiala and USF social work intern Jewel Andy, will also feature several USF faculty members and other administrators.

On Wednesday, June 16, 2021, Pause for Justice will feature Stedman Graham, American educator, author, businessman, and speaker. Graham will speak about his book, Identity Leadership. As noted in Graham’s book, “Identity Leadership is self-leadership, based on the philosophy that you cannot lead others until you first lead yourself.” The discussion will explore ways that leadership is cultivated and nurtured as society imagines a world based upon justice and equity.

Heard credits the Healing Illinois grant that USF received earlier this year for helping to support the show’s creation and content.

“The Healing Grant allowed us to work with Anthony Musiala to help us design the outline for the segments and to train Institutional Diversity staff on the best format to present information in a credible format to listeners. Credibility is important which is why we want to work on information that is research-based and accurate. All of our guest speakers have agreed to volunteer their time and knowledge for free and we are so appreciative to them for the information they are willing to share,” she said.

Although the show launched one month ago, Heard said the idea and spirit behind this work actually originated last summer.

“Pause for Justice at USF was developed in June 2020 during COVID-19 when we were working from home due to the pandemic. I remember watching the many images on TV, listening to the news, reading articles online and feeling like I was on information overload. There was something to be upset and angry about every minute of the day. I think it is okay to be upset and angry but what is unbearable is feeling like you ‘have no power’ to do anything about it,” Heard said.

Heard added that the death of George Floyd on May 25 was a call for conversation and change.

“When the news broke about George Floyd, I remember getting a few text messages and some were notes of encouragement. A few people asked how I was doing. The natural inclination is to tell people you are okay but during that time, I had watched a video that was sent to me and a person in that video cried and said they were not okay. That is exactly what I was feeling. We are often programmed and taught to say we are okay when we are not. Progress and Change can only be actualized when there is room to grow. There were many people who were not okay. People who wanted to pray but who also wanted to do something. Pause for Justice became the medium for gathering, praying, learning, and aligning actions with emotions of the heart. The Pause for Justice Radio series was born out of this history,” she said.

Heard acknowledged that conversations on social justice and equity can create feelings of vulnerability, but she added that they can also result in a desire to act.

“Being vulnerable is often regarded as something negative but it can be very positive when our spirit is moved to a desire to help those who are less fortunate than us. The hope is that if people know better, they will do better. So many mistakes of the past is due to the fact that people don’t know history, or they are not able to critically analyze all of the information the world throws at them. The goal is to match education and information with a person’s inner desire to have a positive impact on society and to facilitate equity and justice for vulnerable populations, she said.

For more information on the show, contact Heard by email at aheard@stfrancis.edu or by phone at 815-740-5025.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 52,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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