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Alumni Focus

Music-Loving Alum Turned Passion Into Profession Assistant band director enhanced his music leadership skills at NLU

3 - CopyBefore Willie Snipes Jr.  came to NLU to earn his  M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision in 2010, he made history at the college where he obtained his bachelor’s degree. He was the first recipient of a degree in music from Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama. Today he is still bringing music to his (first) alma mater.

Snipes’ interest in music came at an early age, which helped him to stay focused and out of trouble while he was growing up. From then on, music played a key role in the trajectory of his life. Continue reading »

REACH Awards Given to Five Alumni for Refusing To Accept Status Quo They've worked, against the odds, to make things better

reach-gala113National Louis went all out when it awarded five alumni its Reach Award at the Field Museum on May 19. The gala Reach reception, dinner and awards ceremony took place under the watchful gaze of “Sue,” the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered.

But it hasn’t always been gourmet food and fancy place settings for the five honorees. They have persevered in the real world to make things better for local people and  communities. Continue reading »

Alum Writes Personalized Books To Help Special-Needs Students In creating a resource for her special-needs child, she extended the same support to others



Heather McCarthy, right, an NLU alum, is starting with her friend and colleague Kate Ryan a company that makes personalized books for special-needs children. The books will help the children communicate their conditions to teachers and fellow students.

By Nicholas A. Love

Heather McCarthy ’08, M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, is partnering with her friend and colleague at Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School to write personalized picture books for children with special needs.

It is not unusual for McCarthy, a language arts teacher, to turn to books when needing a solution. This hardcover problem solving began as a book she wrote to help her daughter communicate special needs with teachers and peers at school. That book soon multiplied into a collaboration between McCarthy and others to make books available to any school-age child with special needs, ranging from rare conditions, like the rare metabolic disorder her children have, to common conditions like food allergies. Continue reading »

Three Rockford-area National Louis Alums Win Golden Apples Laurie Mayer, Amy Orvis and James Schoepski win prestigious teaching awards


goldenapplerockfordlogoWhen the Golden Apple Foundation of Rockford handed out its 2015 Golden Apple awards on March 12, three National Louis University alums got surprises when foundation officials walked into their classrooms to present them with the coveted teaching awards. They were followed by reporters and the teachers’ family members.

The three alums are:

  • Laurie Meyer, a sixth-grade English literature and sixth- through eighth-grade Spanish teacher at Willowbrook Middle School in South Beloit. She has a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and teaching and learning assessment from National Louis University. Read news story
  • Amy Orvis, a seventh- and eighth-grade social studies and language arts teacher at Rockford School District’s Maria Montessori School at Thurgood Marshall. She holds a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from National Louis University. Read news story
  • James Schoepski, a ninth- through 12-grade social studies at Belvidere High School.
    He has a master’s degree in education from National Louis University. Read news story


GED to Ph.D. Alum Honored For Work with Homeless Geri Palmer, Ph.D., received African American Treasure Award


By Nicholas A. Love150226-african-american-treasures-geraldine-palmer-001-L

National Louis University alumna Geraldine Palmer ‘12, Ph.D. in Community Psychology, was recognized as an African-American Community Treasure at the 16th Annual African American History Month Celebration, presented by Dorothy A. Brown, Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Palmer is the Executive Director of South Suburban PADS, an overnight, emergency shelter network in Chicago’s south suburbs. A woman who defied the odds and went from GED to Ph.D., she brings life experience to her leadership at PADS, in addition to her 21 years of professional nonprofit experience.

She leverages the same wealth of experience for Chicagoland and left her mark at a number of housing and supportive service organizations. Not only at work in the trenches, she is an adjunct faculty member at Adler University in Chicago and has authored articles on housing policy and homelessness.

Palmer works tirelessly to alleviate problems related to homelessness because she knows what it’s like to struggle. A determined worker with a mind far from accolades, she accepted her award with humble dignity.

“I just do what I do, so it’s always a surprise when I receive an award for it.”

Taking Stock During Black History Month Higher Education Plays a Role in Realizing Two Families' Dreams



Akilah Bradford explores life possibilities with her high-school-aged daughter, and tells her not to limit herself.


Kimberly Michaelson, from left, Kathy Broome, Michael Cobb and Georgia Bozeday.

History isn’t shaped only by wars and political leaders. It’s also about the choices individuals make to change life for themselves and their families.

Each of us, by choosing to get a bachelor’s or advanced degree and pursue a career in our chosen field, is staking a claim for a life we want. We to set higher possibilities for our children’s generation. And taken together, we are a force that shapes societies, cities and economies.

In honor of Black History Month, we asked two African-American National Louis University alumnae to reflect on how the past and present, and their experiences at NLU, shaped their lives and those of their families. Continue reading »

California Alum Presents Early Literacy Program To Students


By Ayn Keneman, Ed.D.


Mary Kay Moskal, Ph.D., an NLU alum, returned to present a talk on early literacy to students.

Early Childhood students of NLU’s Ayn Keneman, Ed.D., were treated to a session with  Mary Kay Moskal, Ph.D., on early literacy assessment. Moskal is from the Kalmanovitz School of Education at Saint Mary’s College of California. NLU’s Early Childhood students are all in schools as part of the practicum undergraduate course.

Continue reading »

NLU Alumna Enters The Peace Corps After Early Retirement


NLU Alum Sandra Mattison retired early from teaching fifth grade and will volunteer with the Peace Corps in Uganda for about two years. She will support primary education.

After 22 years of teaching in an elementary school, Sandra Mattison, 54, of Wheaton, Ill., retired early and embarked on another adventure. She left recently for Uganda, where she will serve as a Peace Corps volunteer for about two years.

Mattison, B.A. in Elementary Education ’92 and M.Ed in Interdisciplinary Studies in Curriculum and Instruction ’04, will use her professional experience and National Louis University education to support primary education in Uganda.

Continue reading »

NLU Connects With Alumni At North Shore Schools

National Louis is going on the road to meet alumni, let them know they are a valued part of the NLU community and encourage them to participate in alumni events. What’s more, you can arrange for the alumni team to visit YOUR office, school or workplace.

Kimberly Michaelson, NLU’s Director of Alumni Relations, recently visited with NLU alumna Alexandra Nicholson, Ed.D., superintendent of West Northfield School District 31, where almost 100 NLU alumni are employed.  Michaelson went to two District 31 schools to thank them for their support of the University. Nicholson is a member of  NLU’s National College of Education Advisory Council.

Continue reading »

Daily Herald: NLU Alum Shows Teachers Creative Ways To Incorporate Technology


When a Glenbard South High School Spanish teacher came to National Louis University alum Stephanie Wallace for help in making a video, Wallace came up with an unexpected solution: have the students make their own mini-videos, speaking in Spanish, instead.

StudentsWithLaptopsWallace, who was profiled in the Daily Herald Oct. 13, works as an instructional technology specialist at the school, and her goal is to use technology as a tool to help students learn, rather than just learn technology for its own sake.

Continue reading »