As each academic semester comes to a close, students, faculty, and staff take time to reflect on the accomplishments of the previous year and look forward to the coming year. In GPSI, the month of April is a time for celebration, recognition, and new beginnings. As we say “See you later” to one group of graduating interns, we are simultaneously interviewing for their successors. For the past many years, GPSI has hosted a Recognition Breakfast that highlights graduating interns, special projects, and shares new updates with our community members. At the breakfast, GPSI awards one outstanding intern the Brian T. Milbrandt Memorial Intern Award for Academic and Professional Excellence and one exceptional supervisor the Sagarika Madala Memorial Award for Exemplary Leadership. Both awards are named in memory of two former GPSIs.
Last year’s live breakfast program was substituted by a prerecorded video presentation of all of the deserving nominees and the winners in both categories. In preparation of the 2021 awards which will occur live via Zoom, we reflect on last year’s winners and share their incredible contributions that earned them the 2020 titles.
James Jennings, nominated by his intern Brock Titlow, of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (ILEPA) was the winner for the 2020 Sagarika Madala Memorial Award for Exemplary Leadership. James allowed Brock, a UIS Political Science Master’s student, the flexibility of exploring his other interests outside of the Compliance and Waste Reduction sections he was contracted to work in by exploring ILEPA’s legislative work. He combined the right amount of direction and freedom to allow Brock to learn and was committed to ensuring Brock’s GPSI experience was as beneficial as possible. Brock noted he began to rely on James as both a mentor and a friend and he looked to James as a beacon for professional insight. James has supervised many interns throughout his time with the GPSI program and continues to be an outstanding example of leadership as a supervisor and mentor.
Chris Poetschner, nominated by his supervisor Drew Christopher, of the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), was the 2020 recipient of the Brian T. Milbrandt Memorial Intern Award for Academic and Professional Excellence. Chris, a UIS Data Analytics Master’s student, was instrumental in moving the State of Illinois forward in its submittal to the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) of recommendations for proposed changes to our state plane coordinate systems. Drew writes, “His knowledge of computer programming and GIS has been invaluable to IDOT, the State of Illinois, and the nation as a whole, as we developed our statewide recommendations.” Chris also worked on Low distortion projections (LDPs) which will eliminate the conversion necessary between grid and ground coordinates for Illinois and will provide benefit for an entire generation of surveyor’s, GIS professionals, and engineers thus dramatically reducing the chance for survey error, project delays, negative impact to the public, and save taxpayers money. Chris’ successes at IDOT led him to be hired on after his graduation as a consultant for IDOT within Surveys, Mapping, and Modeling.
This 2021 nominees for the Sagarika Madala Memorial Award for Exemplary Leadership are:
- Cheryl Barrett, Illinois Department on Aging
- Heather Shryock, Illinois Department of Public Health
- Kyri Kalpakidis, Illinois Dept. of Innovation & Technology
- Joe McCoy, Illinois State Assoc. of Counties
- Linda Kasebier, Illinois Department of Public Health
- Russ Kemple, Illinois Department on Aging
- Shannon Hughes, Illinois Department of Healthcare & Family Services
- Charles Good, Illinois Department of Natural Resources
- LaDaryl Hale, Illinois Department of Public Health
This 2021 nominees for the Brian T. Milbrandt Memorial Intern Award for Academic and Professional Excellence are:
- Abilash Vanam, Illinois Department on Aging, Computer Science
- Caitlin Anderson, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Political Science
- Jacob Tebbe, Illinois Department of Innovation & Technology, Political Science
- Joseph Ritter, Capital Development Board, History
- Kelly Johnigk, Illinois Department of Innovation & Technology, Accountancy
- Marissa Jones, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Science
- Rebekah Piatt, Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity, Accountancy
- Sarah Christian, Illinois Department of Public Health, Public Health
We’re excited to share the winners on April 22, 2021 via Zoom and in our Centerpiece post next month!
Myra Kaufman is the Assistant Director of the Graduate Public Service Intern program at UIS. Prior to her start at UIS and GPSI in July 2017, Myra earned her Bachelor’s degree in Applied Communication Studies- Interpersonal Communication and her Master’s degree in College Student Personnel Administration from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She is currently pursuing her Doctor of Education degree in Education, Policy, Organization and Leadership in Higher Education at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.