WIU history major creates rural school database during internship

A recent story in the Quincy Herald Whig illustrates how Western students get hands-on experience during their studies at WIU.

Joel Koch, a senior history major at Western Illinois University, shows a couple of the photos of old rural schools in Adams County that he's found during his internship at the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County. (H-W Photo/Michael Kipley)

Quincy Herald-Whig photo at left: Joel Koch, a senior history major at Western Illinois University, shows a couple of the photos of old rural schools in Adams County that he’s found during his internship at the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County. (H-W Photo/Michael Kipley)

“There [are] a lot of people who went to these schools, and many of them have died already,” Koch said. “If their children or grandchildren are doing family research and they run across a reference that they went to a certain school but don’t know where it was, they can refer to our list and get that information.”

According to Edward Husar’s, “Historical Society intern compiles database of old rural schools in Adams County” posted in late November, Joel Koch, a senior history major from Quincy (IL), has compiled a database of nearly 200 rural schools that once operated in Adams County during his internship with the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County.

Read more at www.whig.com/story/16083102/historical-society-intern-compiles-database-of-former-rural-schools.

Learn more about WIU’s Department of History at www.wiu.edu/cas/history/.

Award-winning research: a family tradition

One of the high school students featured in a story on WSIL-TV yesterday (March 28) is pretty lucky when it comes to having a dad who can help with homework, so to speak.

WSIL, a TV station in southern Illinois, profiled some of best high school students in the state, who had gathered at Southern Illinois University over the past weekend for the 33rd Annual Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. One of those students was Macomb High School senior Prem Thottumkara. As the story explains, students delivered presentations based on their summer research projects and a written thesis, and one rule for the symposium was that “students must conduct their experiments and research under the watchful eye of a mentor.” This student didn’t have to look too far to find a scientist who could guide his work. Prem happens to be the son of WIU chemistry professor Vinod Thottumkara (who goes by T.K. Vinod). As the story says,

Thottumkara said he is glad that his mentor is his father because it makes asking questions an easy task, even if the answer is not what he wants to hear. “I can say, “hey dad, how does this work?” and he’s quick to give me a response and even when there’s something he knows I should know yet, he’ll say “this is advanced organic chemistry, you don’t need to know this yet” Thottumkara said.

And Prem’s participation in the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium is just another chapter in the family history of father-son collaboration. Professor T.K. Vinod even earned a patent on a project that was initially sparked by his elder son during a junior high school project. Learn more about Professor Vinod here.

picture of Professor T.K. Vinod with his son and other students

Professor T.K. Vinod with his son Arun and other students (2005)


The jury’s still out…

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Who is Juror Number 121?

Several weeks ago, we told you that a WIU student has been serving on the jury for the corruption trial of notorious ex-governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich.

As Patrick Stout, an academic adviser in the communication department at WIU and a longtime columnist and contributor to the local newspaper (The McDonough County Voice), points out in his latest column, this student’s service on the jury is not the only time WIU has been drawn into the drama surrounding the headline-grabbing ex-gov.

Patrick points out that the student serving her civic duty is at least the second connection between WIU and the ousted Blago. In fact, there’s a third major connection: three people who played prominent roles in his impeachment also just happen to be WIU alumni:

Heather Wier Vaught98 served as assistant counsel to the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, and voters included Sen. Kirk Dillard ’77, and Sen. Kimberly Lightford ’91.

Now, we just hope that our student on the jury can be released soon and recover from all the trial hype: the start of the fall semester at WIU is right around the corner!

Taking ag to a whole new horizon

For WIU alumnus John Carroll, farming is a family tradition, but now his family’s tradition is to do something …non-traditional.

Carroll received his bachelor’s (business-agriculture ’02) and master’s (MBA’03) from WIU, where he met his wife, Kelly (Kaufman) Carroll ’03 (accountancy).

And while business and agriculture students may already be prepped for changing markets, Carroll is applying his educational background and family history to a whole new level: farming in Brazil.

As he explained in a recent story from the Quincy (IL) Herald-Whig, (Carroll is a native of the west central Illinois region), Carroll is now CEO of the family farming operation, which includes managing about 20,000 acres of cotton, as well as 9,000 acres of soybeans, in South America.John Carroll in Brazil

“I’d never seen a cotton plant until I went to Brazil,” Carroll said.
Carroll Farms Brazil now owns 8,000 acres and share-crops the rest with U.S. landowners in the state of Bahia, about five hours northeast of Brasilia, the country’s capitol.

Why Brazil?

And how did he get there?

To find out how a Midwestern farm boy become a CEO in another country, read the full story here.

(Check out Western’s business and agriculture programs on our web site at wiu.edu).

How is it possible to be a college student and work with the Secret Service?

Business major and U.S. Army reservist Nicole Suthard can tell you how.soldier girl

Suthard, from Wheaton, IL, featured in this recent article from the Western Courier, is attending Western Illinois University while also serving her country.

Sometimes that means having to put school on hold.

But Suthard is getting an education of its own sort in her military duties.

“I have been responsible for people, equipment and millions of dollars, sometimes under extreme circumstances, but each time has given me a building block to become a more dynamic person,” she says in the article.

(Read the rest here.)

Suthard credits WIU staff and faculty with helping her balance both school and military duties.

(And she’s not alone in doing so. Check out our recent nod from G.I. Jobs Magazine here.)