USF Student’s Photography Appears on NBC’s Today Show

Jaclyn Duske's photograph of country singer Josh Turner

Joliet, Ill. – Being able to gain real world experience by photographing one of your favorite musicians in concert is rewarding. Learning that those photographs were used during that musician’s appearance on NBC’s Today Show with Hoda & Jenna is unforgettable.

For University of St. Francis sophomore Jaclyn Duske, the itch to explore photography began back when she was in 7th grade.

“My grandfather was a photographer and actually gave me my first camera – a little Nikon CoolPix – in 7th grade. I enjoyed art and drawing, but I started taking classes in high school. I stuck with it and it looks like it is now paying off,” Duske said.

It is certainly paying off. Duske, who is double-majoring in photography and graphic design, is already gaining valuable and memorable experiences as a student in USF’s Art & Design Department. With the help of professor Michael “Chester” Alamo-Costello, MFA, Duske arranged for an opportunity to photograph country music star Dwight Yoakam in concert last August at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet, Ill.

“I did one concert at the Rialto at the end of August, right before the first day of classes. Professor Alamo-Costello has arranged student shoots at Joliet and Chicago music venues since the start of The COMP Magazine (the USF Art & Design Department’s nonprofit art, design and culture magazine) in 2013. He reached out to Valerie Devine, executive director of the Rialto. He indicated he had a student interested in concert photography. He asked if I would be able to come in and photograph the upcoming Dwight Yoakam, and she said ‘yes’. I got a press pass and had to sign a media release. Per the terms of that release, I was only able to take photographs during three songs and could use only three pictures to accompany a story I wrote for The COMP,” Duske said.

From that single experience, Duske was immediately hooked. A few months later, she attended a photography workshop with the photographer for country singer Luke Combs. Then when she saw that country music star Josh Turner was scheduled for a late November concert at the Rialto, she contacted Devine with hopes of photographing that show.

“I love country music and saw that Josh Turner was coming to the Rialto in November, so I reached out to see if I could shoot that show. Thankfully, I was able to and I received a press pass. There was no media release this time around, but I was told that Josh Turner’s management team wanted to use some of my photos afterwards. So, I shot the show and sent my photos to his management team, who loved them and asked for permission to use them for promotional purposes,” Duske said.

Two days later, the Turner’s management team sent an email to Duske with two screenshots of her photos used on NBC’s Today.

Understandably, Duske was pleasantly surprised.

“It was absolutely crazy. I just couldn’t believe it. I was working on a class project with my friends when I found out and said, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m on the Today Show!’”, she said.

Duske said that she continues to keep in contact with Turner’s management team with aspirations of photographing future shows. She also photographs home athletic contests for the USF Fighting Saints. These experiences are important, as Duske’s plans following graduation in two years involve a career in professional photography, either as a concert or touring artist photographer or a sports photographer.

When she is not behind the camera or in class, Duske volunteers at Victory Reigns Therapeutic Riding Center in Peotone, Ill., four to five days each week.

“I started volunteering at Victory Reigns seven years ago. We work with children and adults with disabilities and at-risk youth. I absolutely love it. I love horses and have been riding since I was 8. It’s something I have always been passionate about,” Duske said.

Duske took notice of USF when she learned of its annual high school art show from her high school art teacher. While participating in the show, Duske toured the university’s art facility and soon placed USF atop her list of prospective schools. But it wasn’t until she received what she calls “a sign” that she knew she was meant to be at USF.

“When I toured the main campus, the first place they took us was the chapel. When we were leaving the chapel, I saw hanging on the wall a framed panel of wood with praying hands burned into it. I knew immediately that it was one of my grandfather’s works. I told my mom I knew it was his and I knew it was a sign that USF was the place I was supposed to be,” she said.

After talking with her grandfather, Duske learned that it was, indeed, one of his works that he had given to one of the Sisters of Saint Francis of Mary Immaculate, USF’s Sister sponsors, years back.

As she begins the second half of her sophomore year, Duske is enjoying her USF experience.

“It has been such a good experience. I never thought that I would have access to the number of opportunities I have had at USF to date. I can’t wait to see what’s next,” she said.

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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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American Red Cross Blood Drive at USF on February 4

American Red Cross Blood Drive

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) is hosting an American Red Cross blood drive on Friday, February 4, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Assembly Hall Gym at USF’s St. Clare Campus, which is located at 1550 Plainfield Road in Joliet.

For an appointment, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org. You can save up to 15 minutes when you donate blood by using RapidPass. Visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass for more information.

If you are an eligible type O, B – or A – donor, consider making a Power Red donation. Red blood cells are the most commonly transfused blood component.

All guests will be required to present either proof of COVID-19 vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test (dated within one week of their visit to campus) in an effort to provide a safe event atmosphere. Donors can also anticipate the following precautions when arriving to the donation site:

  • Providing hand sanitizer for use before entering the drives, as well as throughout the donation process;
  • Following social distancing guidelines between donors including entry, donation and refreshment areas;
  • Ensuring face masks or coverings are worn by both staff and donors (masks will be provided for all donors who do not bring their own face coverings);
  • Routinely disinfecting surfaces, equipment and donor touched areas;
  • Wearing gloves, and changing gloves often, and;
  • Using sterile collection sets and antiseptic scrub for every donation.

For more information, please visit redcrossblood.org.

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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 Ranked in Top Five in Illinois for Bachelor’s Degree Programs

University HQ - Best Bachelor's Degree Programs 2022

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) was ranked at number four on a list of colleges and universities with the top bachelor’s degree programs in Illinois according to University Headquarters (University HQ), an industry-leading, independent educational organization. The list, Best Bachelor’s Degree Colleges in Illinois 2022, cites the top higher education institutions across Illinois through a ranking system that considers program and faculty quality, return on investment, and other criteria.

“This is a great way to start the new year. The best universities in Illinois also happen to be some of the best in the country, and the Chicago region is home to some of the finest. Being ranked in the top five by University HQ is another honor for the university that we are proud to share with our community and students,” said USF vice president for admissions Eric Wignall.

Wignall offered that USF’s bachelor’s degree programs cover an array of areas of study.

“Our top bachelor’s programs, by enrollment, include business, nursing, education, health administration, management, and the biological and biomedical sciences. USF is accredited to offer 52 bachelor’s degrees and has 11 specialized accreditations for programs as wide-ranging as radiation therapy to substance abuse counseling to recreation and sports management,” Wignall said.

“Our undergraduate students have access to learning resources on our campus, in the library and through a rich set of online resources. We want to offer the best learning and teaching resources to our students no matter where they are,” he added.

To view the complete listing, visit universityhq.org/best-colleges/illinois/#bachelors.

University Headquarters is an independent educational organization that lists and reviews higher education institutions around the United States. It is one of several online resources students can use to find information on colleges, college entrance requirements, and career paths. Visit universityhq.org for more information.

USF has tallied eleven different state, regional, and national rankings for undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs in the past year, including accolades from publications including U.S. News & World Report, Money magazine, and the Princeton Review.

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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 Pivots Annual Caritas Scholarship Ball to Virtual Format

Joliet, Ill. – For over 60 years, the annual Caritas Scholarship Ball has served as the University of St. Francis’ primary fundraiser for student scholarships. This year’s 65th annual event, originally planned as an in-person event on Saturday, January 29 at USF’s Sullivan Recreation Center, is pivoting to a virtual format out of an abundance of caution in response to a large and still-growing number of COVID-19 cases in the Will County area.

“Our Caritas Planning Committee, along with our Board of Trustees, unanimously felt that pivoting to a virtual format for this year’s event was necessary. Last year’s Caritas was our first-ever virtual event of its kind, and it was largely successful because of the generosity and support that is consistently demonstrated by USF alumni, friends and employees, especially when it comes to supporting our students. We are confident that this year’s event will see that level of support for our students, as well,” said USF President Arvid C. Johnson, Ph.D.

This year’s event, hosted by Arvid & Anne Johnson, will honor the University of St. Francis Board of Trustees and will feature many of the characteristics of annual Caritas events, including a special message from the University President, a student scholarship testimonial, silent and live auctions featuring wine baskets, travel experiences, golf packages and much more.

Virtual access to the event, which will begin at 6:55 p.m., costs $100 per device/household and can be registered for now at stfrancis.edu/caritas. If you are looking for a way to create a group experience, consider a Friends Sponsorships for $1,000, which allows you the opportunity to participate in a watch party either in your home or via Zoom. All participants who have already registered will be contacted by a USF staff member who will provide details regarding virtual access.

Sponsorship packages, which also play an extremely important role in the success of the annual event, are still available for purchase and range from $1,000 to $10,000. Sponsorship packages include a variety of unique recognition opportunities.

“One of the wonderful aspects of last year’s virtual event was the participation of USF alumni from across the country. This support help USF to provide over $23 million in institutional support to USF students, many of whom are first-generation college students. These scholarships make a difference for many students who may not be able to attend and obtain a college degree. We are confident that this pivot to a virtual event will again draw the participation of USF alumni near and far, as well as friends and other supporters of the University, in a collective effort to support USF students,” said Lisa Sampalis, USF Director of Advancement.

The University of St. Francis would like to thank this year’s Caritas sponsors to date for their difference-making generosity: St. Francis Sponsors: Wintrust Commercial Banking; Old Plank Trail Community Bank; St. Clare Sponsors: Diane & Bill Habiger and Gloria & Edward Dollinger; Brown and Gold Sponsors: Barnes & Noble Booksellers; Anne & Arvid Johnson and Dede & Joe Mallof; Saint Sponsors: Sentinus Wealth Management; Bernie Sponsors: First Secure Bank; Northern Trust; Pepsi-Cola; Quest Food Management Services; Patricia & Robert Wheeler; Busey Bank; Cheryl & Kevin McCarthy; Jose Paramo; Mr. & Mrs. Victor Patterson; Ann & Steve Randich and Daniel Streitz; Friends Sponsors: Piazza & Mannerino Masonry; Silver Cross Hospital; Corey & Steve Carbery; KGG, LLC; Timothy Delrose; Dr. Iman Ellis Bowen; Francis Naal; Wilhelmine & John Vidmar; Regina & George Block; Wallace Landscape; Loretta Spesia; Candice Rosen and Timothy Delrose.

For sponsorship opportunities, auction ideas, or questions, please contact Penny Basso, USF Assistant Director of the Annual Fund-Caritas, by phone at 815-740-3748 or by email at pbasso@stfrancis.edu.

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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 USF Online MSW Degree Open Nationally

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) is now offering an online master’s degree in social work (MSW) that prepares students for advanced, leadership-oriented, social work positions. Open to graduates from any Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program, the new degree format is aimed at expanding options for social work graduates across the country who need a master’s degree in the field.

With an MSW, graduates can pursue licensure, become an advanced social work practitioner, and hold leadership positions across the public or private sectors. USF is also keeping the price of the graduate degree program frozen for the third year in a row at $599 per credit hour.

“USF already accepts graduates of social work programs from across the Chicago region for our on-campus MSW program, but this is an opportunity to support bachelor’s level social work graduates across the country,” said USF vice president for admissions Eric Wignall.

The new online MSW program is designed to fill a gap for graduates of social work programs at any of the country’s accredited colleges or universities. “Social workers work with many different populations and types of people, particularly focusing on those who are vulnerable and living in poverty,” Wignall said.

“USF has a long tradition of educating highly trained social workers, but we need more of them. Social workers are practitioners who help people and families in need. The MSW program provides advanced clinical skills required for specialized practice, while developing the confidence to address challenging, and constantly changing, situations in the field,” said USF provost Beth Roth, Ph.D.

Roth, who leads USF’s academic program quality and development efforts, feels the online degree offers flexibility that BSW graduates need in order to take the next professional step.

“As a Catholic, Franciscan university with a fully online master’s degree program in social work, the University of St. Francis can extend its mission to more students, reaching more communities if we make the program more affordable. With rising inflation and higher tuition rates, many master’s degree-seekers are looking for affordable MSW options,” Roth said.

USF will continue to offer on-campus undergraduate and graduate degree programs in social work.

“USF’s nationally-accredited MSW program focuses on advanced practitioner skills, leadership development, and evidence-based practice guidelines to improve and expand the effectiveness of social service programs. They also support clients and communities who are living with disabilities, substance abuse problems, or experience domestic conflicts,” Roth said.

“Social workers are trained to address many different barriers to a given client’s overall wellbeing. Some of these barriers include poverty, unemployment, discrimination, or a lack of housing,” Wignall added.

“USF will help graduate students continue their educational journeys by providing high quality, interactive online learning in the online MSW program. We are also being flexible in response to COVID-19 closures and disruptions. USF will accept GRE scores, but they are not required for admission,” Wignall said.

Students can use the free online application to the USF online social work master’s degree program at stfrancis.edu/apply and applications for classes beginning January 10th and next fall are still being accepted. Visit stfrancis.edu/social-work-msw/ 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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Composition by Dr. Michael Compton Performed by Iowa Symphony

Michael Compton, director of bands, was honored to have an orchestral arrangement of one of his jazz chart medleys performed in September 2021 by the Des Moines Symphony (Des Moines, IA).

“I was commissioned by a gentleman named Richard Hinson to arrange music. He dabbles in composition—basically making out a rough sketch of ideas—and then has me orchestrate it for him,” explained Compton.

Hinson, a board member of the Des Moines Symphony for many years and a major donor to their foundation, was so enamored with Compton’s jazz band arrangement that he had another acquaintance of his use it to create setting for a symphony orchestra.

The piece was performed by the Des Moines Symphony on their opening concert for the post-COVID season, and Compton attended.

“It was interesting to hear my creation reimagined by another person for an altogether different performance setting,” he said.

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