Three MERIT Scholarship Recipients Announced

Joliet, Ill. – Taking on the challenge of inspiring the next generation of students is a responsibility that teachers proudly accept. For Jasmine Flores, Isabel Jaquez and Crystal Mendoza, who are the three newest MERIT (Multicultural Education Recruitment in Teaching) Scholarship recipients at the University of St. Francis (USF), that challenge is one they are ready to assume.

The MERIT program is a partnership between USF, Joliet Township High School District 204, Joliet Public Schools District 86 and the Joliet business community. The MERIT Scholarship provides scholarship funds for qualifying students of color who major in education at USF. Recipients are required to teach in a Joliet school for either four years (Joliet Township High School District 204 and other area seniors planning to attend USF for four years) or two years (Joliet Junior College students planning to transfer to USF for two years). Ultimately, the program is intended to help recruit, prepare, place and induct a new generation of teachers of color for Joliet’s schools.

As the three recipients prepare to begin their respective educational journeys in the fall, they are thankful for the opportunity presented to them through the MERIT program.

“To be a MERIT Scholar, it means that I am given the opportunity to learn and grow into the teacher I want to be. It means that I am learning about the community I will be working in and connecting with students to prepare myself as an educator. As a MERIT Scholar, I am being trained to be a leader and an influence not only to the children, but to everyone who surrounds me,” said Flores, who graduated from Joliet Central in 2018 and then recently graduated from Joliet Junior College.

“To me, being a MERIT Scholar means that I am going to get the opportunity to be the best possible teacher I can be for my students. I also get to be for someone else, what I never got as a little girl, a teacher who looks like me. While all of my teachers were amazing, none of them looked like me nor had a similar background as me or had the same passion that I do for my culture. Being a MERIT Scholar means that I am going to be a teacher in a community where there are many children of color, and I get to be their teacher. My students will walk into my classroom and see someone who is like them, someone who can show them they can be any they want to be regardless of where they came from or what color their skin is,” said Jaquez, who is a graduate of Bolingbrook High School.

For Mendoza, a graduate of Joliet West High School, the opportunity is an example of a dream coming true.

“To be a MERIT Scholar means the world to me because it will help me turn my dream into a reality. Further, it will allow me to share my experience with a diverse group of students,” she said.

While there are many opportunities that come with a career in education, the three newest MERIT Scholars are driven by the impact they aspire to have on their future students.

“I am looking forward to being a teacher because I want to be the one who gets to inspire the next generation to believe in themselves and what they can achieve. No matter who they are or where they come from, I will always want to bring the best out of my students, even if it starts with a smile,” said Flores.

Jaquez believes that building relationships with students is an important characteristic of an effective classroom.

“I look forward most to building relationships with my students and watching them grow as students and as people. Building relationships is so important to a classroom setting. Students learn better when they trust and know their teacher. Even though I have not met my students and many of them probably don’t even exist yet, I love them, and I look forward to getting to know each and every one of them,” she said.

Mendoza also points to the importance of the relationship between teacher and student.

“I look forward to getting to know the students and working with them to reach our goals. I not only want to share my knowledge, but I also want to cultivate relationships and make great memories together,” she said.

Specifically, all three MERIT Scholarship recipients look forward to the opportunity to teach in Joliet schools.

“As a student that lived in the Joliet area for most of my life, I grew to love the diverse atmosphere and the acceptance that was given in the school system. Even though I was surrounded with positive energy, there was still a divide between teachers and with the students; there were not enough minority teachers to balance with the minority populations of the schools,” said Flores, who would like to teach middle school social sciences. “Since I grew up in the Joliet public school systems, I had friends of different cultural and economic backgrounds and was able to understand and connect with those different from me. As a teacher, I want to be able the build relationships with my students through the understanding of the cultural norms and using them to create a unique curriculum that will inspire students, rather than bore students. I want to pursue education because I want to be the missing voice in faculty discussions to stand up for minorities and to give an insider perspective on what will benefit the majority.”

“It is not a secret that many kids in this world do not have someone at home who cheers them on, who tells them they are deeply loved and valued. I want to be a teacher because every child deserves to know they are loved and that they are worthy, every child deserves someone in their corner. My mission as a teacher is to be a confidant and a cheerleader for any student that needs one. I know that I can have a positive effect on the future by teaching every single student I have that they are treasured and valued,” said Jaquez, who would like to teach in elementary school.

“When one thinks about the gifts and talents they have to offer, why not use them to make a difference in the lives of young students. In my case, I would like to share the talents that I have to offer with students and my community. Ever since elementary school, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher. My dedication, interest, and passion for the field of education are some of the gifts that I have to offer, and I want to share them,” said Mendoza, who would like to become a high school U.S. history teacher.

Visit stfrancis.edu/merit for more information on the MERIT Program at USF.

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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 Invites the Community to Celebrate Women’s History Month

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) Women’s History Month Committee has planned a series of events in honor of Women’s History Month and is excited to celebrate (both virtually and in person) with the community throughout March. 

The month kicks off on Wednesday, March 10 with The Clare Award presentation to Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). The virtual ceremony, which will begin at 12 p.m. on Zoom, will also honor last year’s recipient, Roxiana Fuqua of Generation Dance. The Clare Award seeks to highlight women of vision who have transformed the world in their time. Both honorees are exemplars for their fields and their communities.

On Thursday, March 11 at 3 p.m., Dr. Madonna Murphy (USF College of Education) will shine light on some significant women who have been important in the history of the University of St. Francis in her presentation, “101 Years of USF History Through the Decades: Important Women.” Murphy’s talk will begin with Mother Alfred Moes and then highlight one woman from each decade of 1920-2020.

On Friday, March 12 at 1 p.m., Dr. Deborah Glenn (USF College of Education) and Dr. Elizabeth McDermott (USF College of Arts & Sciences) will lead a discussion of Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner’s Women’s Suffrage. The book discussion continues in memory of Dr. Elva Dawson, a beloved USF professor who was scheduled to lead this discussion March 2020 when events were abruptly cancelled.

USF Women’s History Month Committee members Jessica Peek, USF Director of University Ministry and Dr. Mary Ann Andrade, Director of the USF Counseling & Wellness Center, will host a “Knit Happens: A Virtual Knitting Workshop for Beginners” on Tuesday, March 16 at 6 p.m.  Attendees can de-stress, learn about the importance of knitting in the women’s movement, and finish a project during the course of the meeting.

Continue to unwind and reflect by attending the screening and discussion of “On The Basis of Sex” on Thursday, March 25 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Sexton Auditorium located in the Moser Performing Arts Center (space is limited). An optional Zoom link will be provided.

To cap the month, we celebrate Women Who Light Our Way and Our Lives with a virtual Tea and video on Friday, March 26 at 2 p.m. honoring local women nominated by faculty and staff.

All events are open to the public. Please contact Joanna Kourtidis at jkourtidis@stfrancis.edu with questions or for Zoom login information.

USF Women’s History Month Committee is comprised of faculty, staff, and administrators who are passionate about engaging students and the community.

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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 51,000 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 Offering Book Study Series for Educators

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) College of Education is offering book study series that provides educators with common interests an opportunity to engage in educational topics and immediately apply them to the classroom and learning environment. Texts selected for the series focus on improving instruction and increasing student growth.

Schooltalk: Rethinking What We Say About and To Students Every Day
Mica Pollock, Author
April 12 – May 17, 2021 | online
Earn 15 PD hours
$50 plus cost of book

Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students
Zaretta L. Hammond, Author
May 17 – June 14, 2021 | online
Earn 9 PD hours
$50 plus cost of book

About the Book Study Format

Participants should note the following items regarding the book study series:

  • Upon registration, participants should purchase the book (book purchase information is available at registration) and begin reading the text at their leisure.
  • The link to the book study platform and specific due dates for activities will be sent to the preferred email (submitted with registration) the week prior to the start of the book study.
  • The text will be divided into sections. Participants will complete discussion posts with feedback to others and a final reflection explaining application of text to profession.
  • A moderator will participate in discussions, as well as review and provide feedback on final reflections.
  • Licensed Illinois educators must complete all required discussions/activities as assigned to receive professional development hours. No partial hours will be awarded.
  • Participants successfully completing a book study may choose to apply the experience toward one graduate credit. Additional fee applies for this option.

Visit stfrancis.edu/real/professional-learning/ to register for either book study or to explore additional educational opportunities.

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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 51,000 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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Free Professional Development Opportunities for Educators

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) College of Education is offering educators free professional development through the new REAL Talk for Teachers webinar series. More information on REAL Talk and other upcoming education workshops and conferences at USF is available at stfrancis.edu/real/professional-learning.

REAL Talk for Teachers (and future teachers) Series
Classroom Hacks: Remote & In-Person with
Julie Hafner and Jen Pierson
March 2 | 6–7 p.m. | Free

Have you ever wondered how some teachers make it seem so easy? Many amazing educators have learned tips of the craft to make the classroom flow smoothly. Even simple changes can make a big impact. Learn tips to make your remote and in-person classroom even better!

Visit stfrancis.edu/real/professional-learning/ to register.

REAL Talk for Teachers (and future teachers) Series
Resumes, Interviews, and Getting Hired
with Courtney Orzel and Pete Sullivan
March 16 | 6–7 p.m. | Free

What do hiring administrators look for in resumes and during the interview process? Valuable insight for those just starting out and experienced educators exploring new opportunities.  Learn how to tighten up a job search, stand out as an applicant, and connect with those who can support job search efforts.

Visit stfrancis.edu/real/professional-learning/ to register.

REAL Talk for Teachers (and future teachers) Series
Licensure Update with the Will County ROE
April 19 | 6–7 p.m. | Free

Our friends at the Will County ROE will join us to chat about current license renewal requirements and process, endorsements, and the latest news from the Illinois State Board of Education.

Visit stfrancis.edu/real/professional-learning/ to register.

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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 51,000 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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Scholarship Opportunity Supports Students of Color Who Aspire to Become Teachers

Joliet, Ill. – Local data has shown that there is a sharp contrast between student and teacher demographics. In fact, a large gap currently exists between the percentages of students of color and teachers of color in Joliet’s schools. A scholarship opportunity offered by the University of St. Francis (USF) for qualifying students of color who aspire to become teachers is helping to address this gap.

The Multicultural Education Recruitment in Teaching (MERIT) Scholarship at USF provides a four (4) year scholarship up to $8,000 per year for eligible seniors applying to USF as a first-year freshman, as well as a two (2) year scholarship up to $2,000 per year for eligible students applying to USF as a junior-level transfer. Awards are offered in conjunction with other scholarships/grants and will apply to the direct cost of USF full-time undergraduate tuition and fees. This scholarship opportunity is open to all eligible high school and community college students.

Scholarship requires that applicants are:

  • a student of African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino American, Asian American, or Native American origin;
  • a U.S. Citizen or eligible non U.S. Citizen with demonstrated financial need;
  • a high school or transfer student with a GPA of 3.00 or higher, and
  • able to commit to teach in Joliet public schools for either two or four years upon graduation from USF.

Scholars are selected based on qualities that indicate their potential to become exemplary teachers. Visit stfrancis.edu/merit to apply today or to request additional information. Review of applications will begin March 1, 2021 for the 2021–22 academic year.

The MERIT project is a partnership between the University of St. Francis (USF), Joliet Township High School District 204, Joliet Public Schools District 86, Joliet Junior College, and the surrounding community.

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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 51,000 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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MERIT Scholarship

Honor Society Donates School Supplies to Joliet District 86

Joliet, Ill. – With the start of the new school year just around the corner, members of the University of St. Francis (USF) chapter of the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education made sure to do their part to help students in Joliet District 86 prepare for the first day of classes.

On Monday, August 3, the group donated 17 boxes of school supplies to District 86 in an effort to create 15 backpacks filled with school supplies for students in need. 

“On behalf of Joliet District 86, I would like to thank the University of St. Francis Kappa Delta Pi members for their donation of boxes and boxes of school supplies for our students. We appreciate your partnership and ongoing support,” said Joliet District 86 Superintendent Theresa Rouse, Ed.D.

The collection and donation were the result of Kappa Delta Pi’s annual spring service project.

“The student officers made all the contacts with District 86 to propose a service plan to them. We had originally planned to conduct the drive in the spring term, but in light of the COVID-19 impact, they kept the drive going throughout the summer and had a wonderful result,” said USF Professor and Kappa Delta Pi Counselor Madonna Murphy, Ph.D.

Murphy added that both current and alumnae members of Kappa Delta Pi participated in the drive.

(Joliet District 86 Superintendent Dr. Theresa Rouse, USF Kappa Delta Pi President Kathryn Gutzman, USF Professor and Kappa Delta Pi Counselor Dr. Madonna Murphy and USF Kappa Delta Pi Treasurer Cindy Chavez, KDP Treasurer).

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Currently celebrating 100 years of higher education rooted in Franciscan values, 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 50,000 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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