Aaron Von Qualen ’12, Wonsook Kim College of Fine Arts, Music – Liberal Arts, ’14 College of Education, College Student Personnel Administration
Von Qualen’s leadership experiences within the Division of Student Affairs are astounding. As an undergraduate student, he held two positions which are considered among the most elite student roles on campus, Student Trustee from July 2012 to July 2014 and Vice President of the student body from April 2011 to April 2012. Aaron also completed the ISULeads program and served as a member of the Campus Dining Services Advisory Council, University Hearing Panel and the Student Health Advisory Board. As a graduate student, Aaron worked in the Community Rights and Responsibilities Office and managed several disciplinary cases. He also completed a Practicum through the Dean of Students Office with Franklin College in Lugano, Switzerland. During both his undergraduate and graduate career at Illinois State, Aaron was committed to using his leadership skills, knowledge and passion to help make the programs and practices at Illinois State student-centered. Currently, Aaron works as a financial advisor with Edward Jones.
Brandon Thornton ’11, College of Arts and Sciences, Mathematics – Teacher Education, ’16, College of Education, Special Education
For Thornton, the Association of Residence Halls, Student Government, Alternative Breaks, ISU Show Choir, and the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Asexual College conference played a key role in molding him into the animated teacher he is today. An educator at Bloomington High School, and current doctoral student, Brandon shared that his teaching philosophy is "I teach students - not math.” When he's not educating students in the classroom, Brandon is working to cultivate a diverse and inclusive space for students he advises on the speech team and Anime Club. With a classroom decked out in Redbird images from his time on campus and while rocking his Redbird red Tom shoes, there's probably no doubt in any of the students or staff's minds at BHS that Brandon is #RedbirdProud. Using the images of campus and his student life experiences around the classroom, Brandon often discusses college options with his students where he encourages them to choose a school that will challenge them beyond the classroom. Brandon is currently a Student Affairs Alumni Ambassador, working to promote and advance the goals of Student Affairs' alumni engagement and development work. He has served in this role since the group's creation in 2017.
Alana McGinty ’10, College of Arts and Sciences, Political Science and Sociology
Throughout McGinty’s years as an undergraduate, she immersed herself in various Student Affairs leadership and service opportunities. She served as a trip leader three times for Alternative Spring Break and participated in the inaugural international Alternative Break trip to Peru. She held positional roles in many pockets of campus as well, as the President of Phi Sigma Sigma and an Off-Campus Senator for Student Government Association. Alana stays connected to Illinois State through active participation in Washington, D.C. Alumni Network events. For the last two years Alana has organized a panel and hosted Illinois State students visiting the U.S. Capital on the Civic Engagement Trip at DAI Global, her current place of work. To say she is passionate about global civic engagement is an understatement. She demonstrates her Redbird pride paying it forward and donating to Student Affairs, to ensure future students have access to the same impactful programming throughout their undergraduate experience.
Tyler Clark ’09, College of Arts and Sciences, History and Political Science
Clark has experienced tremendous growth in his profession, which he credits to experiential learning through collegiate involvement in Student Government Association and Fraternity and Sorority Life. Tyler served as the Secretary of Governmental Relations in SGA from 2007-2008. In this role, he built and leveraged relationships with local legislators to further strengthen the bond between Illinois State University and the state government. Today, Tyler supports the Willow Creek C.A.R.S. Ministry and provides pro-bono consulting to underrepresented entrepreneurs. He also serves on the Illinois State University Alumni Association Board of Directors, where he actively participates as a member of the RED committee. Tyler understands the value of engaging people who have differing values and beliefs and sees the potential impact that can be realized when bringing them together. Through this approach, Tyler was able to gain unanimous, bipartisan support to establish a new state IT agency. With nearly 10 years in Illinois government, he has helped draft legislation, served as a Senate Liaison for the Governor, and oversaw the operations of the 1,500-person state IT department. When not at work at Serafin & Associates, advising Fortune 100 companies, one would likely find Tyler at a watch party cheering on the Redbirds, or connecting with fellow alumni at regional events.
Sarah Myers ’09, College of Arts and Sciences, Speech Pathology – Non-Teaching
Myers was a student employee in the Health Information Management unit at Student Health Services for four years. Today, she is an entrepreneur, owning and operating her own speech pathology private practice, Way To Grow Pediatric Therapy, in Peoria, Illinois, which provides speech and language therapy in addition to feeding therapy. Sarah works alongside families to help empower them to utilize speech, language, and feeding strategies with their children to facilitate appropriate growth and development. She also provides therapy services as a part of the Illinois Early Intervention System, working with children and families of all backgrounds. Sarah has recently begun expanding the Way To Grow Therapy practice, bringing on an additional speech language pathologist and billing specialist to her team of skilled professionals. Her completion of LeaderShape in the Division of Student Affairs, along with the Alternative Spring Break and Preview Guide experiences she had at Illinois State, prepared her for the entrepreneurial world she currently navigates. Sarah provides the individualized attention Illinois State hopes to perpetuate in its graduates. This is evident in her patients’ comments regarding their work with her. "Sarah is absolutely amazing at what she does. She has extensive knowledge and a gifted ability to use play to assess/treat your child speech skills. Her tool box, suggestions and methods are endless. Her demeanor is professional but so down to Earth and friendly. She is positive, patient and caring with her patients." Committed to her own education, Sarah attends personal growth and business conferences where she inspires others with her love of learning.
A two time graduate from Illinois State University, Aja Holmes '00, M.S. '02 uses what she learned from her involvement as a student as a higher education professional today. During her time at Illinois State, Holmes was involved with the Black Student Union, University Program Board, LeaderShape, and Student Government Association. After receiving her bachelor's degree in mass communication and her master's degree in college student development at Illinois State, Holmes went on to earn her doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from Iowa State University. Now, Holmes works as the senior associate director for residential life at California State University Sacramento. She has also served as one of the founding members of the Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis as well as on the editorial board of the Journal Committed to Social Change on Race and Ethnicity.
Kevin Parkinson '09 was very involved during his time as a student leader on campus. Parkinson was an active member of the University Program Board, the Student Alumni Council, and also served as a Preview Guide. Parkinson found his passion for service by participating in several trips with alternative Breaks, Leaders of Social Change, and Pay It Forward, while also attending Leadership Revolution and LeaderShape. Currently, Parkinson serves as the principal of Midtown Public Charter School in Jackson, Mississippi. In a previous position with Teach For America's Mississippi region, he recruited and on-boarded more than 500 teachers. He also administered a $1 million, 5-year federal grant to provide after-school enrichment activities to a school in rural Mississippi, and has raised more than $140,000 to take hundreds of students to dozens of cities across the southeast for leadership and service programming.
Before Scott Preston '10 was sworn-in as the youngest councilman in Normal, he was an active student leader on Illinios State's campus. With a commitment to civic engagement, Preston served as a member of student Government Association, American Democracy Project, Delta Chi Fraternity, and was also a Resident Assistant and a Student Involvement Ambassador. Since graduation, Preston was re-elected to his second term as a councilman in Normal in spring 2017. He also served as assistant to the Treasurer of Illinois for four years. In addition to public service, Preston is the president of Tomorrow Enterprises LLC, a real estate development and investment company he founded in 2011. Staying involved in the Illinois State community, Preston currently serves as an alumni ambassador for the Division of Student Affairs, as well as serves on the Alumni Association board of directors' Homecoming committee.
As a student, Lindsay Vahl '06, M.S. '09 was highly involved in various activities which propelled her into a career in higher education. While an undergraduate student, Vahl served as an Admissions Ambassador, MASAI Mentor, was involved in Fraternity and Sorority Life, and participated in Leadership Revolution. After Vahl finished her undergraduate degree, she went on to pursue her master's degree in college personnel administration. As a proud two-time alumna of Illinois State, Vahl seeks to support students in various advisory capacities including LeaderShape and Alternative Breaks. She also serves on the Umoja Committee. Currently, Vahl serves as the director of alumni engagement her at Illinois State University. In this role, she is able to connect and build relationships with alumni and friends throughout the Chicagoland area.
Olivia Butts ’14 developed a passion for working with students as a graduate student in Campus Recreation. After graduation, Butts’ passion guided her to become a professor for the Illinois State Kinesiology and Recreation Department. Her dedication to students goes beyond the classroom, encouraging her students to engage in out of the classroom experiences. She models this behavior through involvement with Black Lives Matters of Bloomington/Normal and serving as a trip advisor for Alterative Breaks.
As a graduate student working in Campus Recreation, Kirk Fallon ’14 developed his passion for recreation and working with college students. Taking the skills he learned at Illinois State to a new campus, now serving as the Director of the Student Recreation Center at Red Rocks Community College, Fallon has been recognized for his leadership and knowledge. He continues to share his Redbird story with others and inspire a new group of students to follow their passion into a recreation career.
As a member of SGA, Student Trustee Zach Koutsky ’06 developed a passion for civic engagement at Illinois State, and was fortunate to turn it into a career, developing public policy since his graduation. Currently serving as the Legislative and Political Director for the Local 881 United Food and Commercial Workers, Koutsky worked to pass a landmark paid sick leave law in Chicago and Cook County, helping over 900,000 workers. He also led the labor division of the Just Democracy Coalition, which made Illinois the 9th state to enact Automatic Voter Registration, thus enfranchising over 1 million of our fellow citizens. Koutsky continues to share his Redbird pride in his community and with current students when he visits campus to speak to aspiring public servants.
As a student leader in the University Program Board, a Preview Guide and participant of LeaderShape Katie Pratt ’10 developed skills she now uses to serve the Bloomington/Normal and Illinois State University communities. Pratt strives to create a better community for all, at work and in the local community, by giving her time and talents to a variety of organizations including Green Top Grocery, For a Better Tomorrow, the League of Women Voters, and the Multicultural Leadership Program.
Patrick Ryan ’05, ’07
had in numerous student leadership positions prepared him to support high school students in the college selection process as a guidance counselor at Marist High School. Over 230 students from his school have become Redbirds since he started in his position! Just as he did as a Redbird, Ryan goes above and beyond in his career by serving as the President of the faculty association and coaching the cross country team. He is also an active member of his community and serves on his condominium association board.
Adam found a passion for service through Alternative Breaks and developed management skills as a Resident Assistant. As the Director of Aquatics and Sports Programs for the City of Bloomington, Adam gives back to ISU by conducting mock interviews and providing feedback to students interested in Park Administration. His passion for services continues through supporting the Alternative Breaks scholarship fund and encouraging other alumni to do the same, ensuring every student has the opportunity to go on a trip.
Dr. Kevin M. Martin uses the skills and lessons he learned through Student Government Association and UPB, specifically advocating for those who don’t have a seat at the table, to enhance and increase opportunities available to students as an Assistant Principal at Northwest Middle School. Student success drives Kevin. He opened a Saturday Academy for student who need extra time with teachers, tutoring, or a place to study. Kevin also continues to support ISU as an active alumnus.
Jeremy Butler, M.S. '12, was highly involved within the Division of Student Affairs, specifically Campus Recreation, while earning his Master's degree. He demonstrates his commitment to the values of student affairs through his work as an Illinois State Police Officer, owner of Pagoda Rebirth Martial Arts and Fitness, and providing free self-defense workshops to non-for-profit organizations. Jeremy also shows his commitment to ISU as a staff advisor for the Redbird Gloves Boxing.
Fellicia Foster '08, Assistant Vice President & Human Resources Business Partner, leverages her leadership skills, which she refined as a highly involved student leader, through her work and community organizations. She has transformed several systems and structures at BMO Harris Bank and continues to improve the company's standing. Fellicia chairs BMO Harris Bank's African American League of Professionals, founded the Black Business Employee Resource Group Roundtable, and holds a leadership position in the Chicago Young Alumni Network.
Dr. Hayley Ralph's '10 hands-on research and clinical experience gained through her time as a student working in Student Health Services built a foundation to become a successful Physician. She continues to show her commitment to her community through service and being a leader, which she also demonstrated at Illinois State, in her professional work as she leads career day programs for high school students and junior high students interested in a medical career. Hayley is a 2nd Year Resident Physician in Family & Community Medicine at Saint Louis Family Medicine Residency at Belleville.
Emily Vigneri '07, M.S. '10 developed an interest in service and social issues through her undergraduate involvement across campus. She also developed leadership skills that she shares with students through advising co-curricular programs and trips as well as with community organizations. Emily currently serves as the Coordinator of First Year Experience at Illinois State and serves on the Board of Directors for the For a Better Tomorrow organization, the League of Women Voters, and Green Top Grocery.