Monthly archives: September, 2015

Free ABE/GED Classes

TLC FALL (2) 2015

Bringing Business Opportunities to Disabled Aspiring Entrepreneurs

2/26/15 Parker-Harris and Renko.

Parker-Harris and Renko.

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities often overlook — or are overlooked by — the business world. University of Illinois at Chicago researchers hope to empower them through entrepreneurship training under a new, two-year, $300,000 grant from the Coleman Foundation.The new program at UIC aims to expand career options for persons with disabilities through the development of a tailored business program. The project leaders were particularly concerned with bridging the gaps in culture and language between the business and disability community.

Chicago is home to more than 600,000 disabled people, and their unemployment rate is twice that of the city as a whole. Most employment programs have focused on placing people with disabilities in any job, without considering their interests. “Imagine being told as young as 16, 17 or 18 years old that you might love gardening, but we’re going to put you in a workshop packing boxes instead,” said Sarah Parker Harris, associate professor of disability and human development at UIC and a co-principal investigator on the grant.

The program will be developed with input from the disabled community, service agencies and small business development agencies. Disabilities service agencies will be given resources and training that will show them how business development can be an option for those they serve and how to connect their clients with the business services they need. “This will be a unique opportunity for people with disabilities to access entrepreneurship,” said co-principal investigator Maija Renko, associate professor of managerial studies.

The multidisciplinary collaboration between Renko and Parker Harris began with a pilot program in 2010, funded by a UIC Chancellor’s Discovery Grant. Overwhelming response forced them to turn away as many people as they were able to include, and they continue to receive inquiries on their website. The trainings will bring together people from the business and disability fields as well as individuals with disabilities in workshops in writing business plans, marketing, and networking. “This will be a unique project that targets both people with disabilities looking to be entrepreneurs as well as their service providers,” said Renko.

The ultimate goal is to make the program self-sustaining, so that service agencies will recognize individuals with the interest and potential to become entrepreneurs and provide the support and training they need for success. Under the grant, the team will develop a model that is replicable in agencies across the country. The training will include an evaluation tool to assess readiness. At the end of the training, the team hopes to hold a business planning competition that will bring the budding entrepreneurs together with investors.

Information on the program is online.

Historian Named National Humanities Center fellow

Javier Villa-Flores

Associate Professor Javier Villa-Flores

Javier Villa-Flores, University of Illinois at Chicago associate professor of Latin American and Latino studies and history, has been named a fellow of the National Humanities Center for the 2015-16 academic year.

 Villa-Flores, who studies religious issues, colonialism, performance studies and the social history of language in colonial Mexico, will join 36 other distinguished scholars from 32 institutions across the United States and eight foreign countries working on a wide array of projects. He will also have opportunities to participate in seminars, lectures and conferences.

Villa-Flores, who is the fourth UIC scholar to be selected since the center opened in 1978, will work on his project “Perjurers, Impersonators, and Liars: Public Faith and the Dark Side of Trust in Eighteenth-Century Mexico.”

 The project explores the history of trust and deception in 18th-century Bourbon Mexico by focusing on the representation, prosecution and punishment of “crimes of falsity”—forgery of official documents and seals, impersonation of secular and religious ministers, counterfeiting, alteration of weights and measures, and perjury and false witnessing in legal courts.

 His first book, “Carlo Ginzburg: The Historian as Theoretician” (University of Guadalajara, 1995), offered an epistemological discussion of the historian’s craft focusing on Carlo Ginzburg’s work. His second book, “Dangerous Speech: A Social History of Blasphemy in Colonial Mexico” (University of Arizona Press, 2006), analyzes the representation, prosecution and punishment of blasphemous speech in New Spain from 1520 to 1700.

 Villa-Flores is also co-editor of “Emotions and Daily Life in Colonial Mexico” (University of New Mexico Press, 2014), and “From the Ashes of History: Loss and Recovery of Archives in Latin America” (A Contracorriente, 2015).

 His research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the John Carter Brown Library, the Huntington Library, the Newberry Library and the Institute for the Humanities at UIC. In 2014, he received the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Mid-Career Faculty Award.

 The National Humanities Center, located in the Research Triangle Park of North Carolina, is an independent institute for advanced study in the humanities. Since its opening, the center has awarded fellowships to more than 1,300 scholars in the humanities, whose work at the center has resulted in the publication of more than 1,500 books in all fields of humanistic study.


Cure for Sickle Cell Disease

Desmond Means

Julius and Desmond Means were cured of sickle cell disease at UI Health through a chemotherapy-free stem cell transplant in 2013. Their older brother, Clifford (center), was the donor.

Physicians at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System have cured 12 adult patients of sickle cell disease using a unique procedure for stem cell transplantation from healthy, tissue-matched siblings.

The transplants were the first to be performed outside of the National Institutes of Health campus in Maryland, where the procedure was developed. Physicians there have treated 30 patients, with an 87 percent success rate. The results of the phase I/II clinical trial at UI Health, in which 92 percent of treated patients were cured, are published online in the journal Biology of Blood & Marrow Transplantation.

The new technique eliminates the need for chemotherapy to prepare the patient to receive the transplanted cells and offers the prospect of cure for tens of thousands of adults suffering from sickle cell disease.

About 90 percent of the approximately 450 patients who have received stem cell transplants for sickle cell disease have been children. Chemotherapy has been considered too risky for adult patients, who are often more weakened than children by the disease.

“Adults with sickle cell disease are now living on average until about age 50 with blood transfusions and drugs to help with pain crises, but their quality of life can be very low,” says Dr. Damiano Rondelli, chief of hematology/oncology and director of the blood and marrow transplant program at UI Health, and corresponding author on the paper.

“Now, with this chemotherapy-free transplant, we are curing adults with sickle cell disease, and we see that their quality of life improves vastly within just one month of the transplant,” said Rondelli, who is also the Michael Reese Professor of Hematology in the UIC College of Medicine. “They are able to go back to school, go back to work, and can experience life without pain.”

Sickle cell disease is inherited. It primarily affects people of African descent, including about one in every 500 African Americans born in the U.S. The defect causes the oxygen-carrying red blood cells to be crescent shaped, like a sickle. The misshapen cells deliver less oxygen to the body’s tissues, causing severe pain and eventually stroke or organ damage.

Doctors have known for some time that bone marrow transplantation from a healthy donor can cure sickle cell disease. But few adults were transplanted because high-dose chemotherapy was needed to kill off the patients’ own blood-forming cells — and their entire immune system, to prevent rejection of the transplanted cells, leaving patients open to infection.

In the new procedure, patients receive immunosuppressive drugs just before the transplant, along with a very low dose of total body irradiation — a treatment much less harsh and with fewer potentially serious side effects than chemotherapy.

Next, donor cells from a healthy and tissue-matched sibling are transfused into the patient. Stem cells from the donor produce healthy new blood cells in the patient, eventually in sufficient quantity to eliminate symptoms. In many cases, sickle cells can no longer be detected. Patients must continue to take immunosuppressant drugs for at least a year.

In the reported trial, the researchers transplanted 13 patients, 17 to 40 years of age, with a stem cell preparation from the blood of a tissue-matched sibling. Healthy sibling donor-candidates and patients were tested for human leukocyte antigen, a set of markers found on cells in the body. Ten of these HLA markers must match between the donor and the recipient for the transplant to have the best chance of evading rejection.

In a further advance of the NIH procedure, physicians at UI Health successfully transplanted two patients with cells from siblings who matched for HLA but had a different blood type.

In all 13 patients, the transplanted cells successfully took up residence in the marrow and produced healthy red blood cells. One patient who failed to follow the post-transplant therapy regimen reverted to the original sickle cell condition.

None of the patients experienced graft-versus-host disease, a condition where immune cells originating from the donor attack the recipient’s body.

One year after transplantation, the 12 successfully transplanted patients had normal hemoglobin concentrations in their blood and better cardiopulmonary function. They reported less pain and improved health and vitality.

Four of the patients were able to stop post-transplantation immunotherapy without transplant rejection or other complications.

“Adults with sickle cell disease can be cured without chemotherapy – the main barrier that has stood in the way for them for so long,” Rondelli said. “Our data provide more support that this therapy is safe and effective and prevents patients from living shortened lives, condemned to pain and progressive complications.”

Co-authors on the study are Drs. Santosh Saraf, Annie Oh, Pritesh Patel, Matthew Koshy, Sally Campbell-Lee, Michael Gowhari, Johara Hassan, David Peace, John Quigley, Irum Khan, Robert Molokie, Lewis Hsu, Nadim Mahmud, Dennis Levinson and Victor Gordeuk of the UIC College of Medicine, UI Health, and University of Illinois Cancer Center; Yash Jalundhwala, Karen Sweiss and A. Simon Pickard of the UIC College of Pharmacy; and Dr. Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia, now at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

This research was supported in part by a Michael Reese Research & Education Foundation Grant to Rondelli.

Students head to World Skating Championship

UIC student Jared Rugen and figure skating partner Emma Trent at the 2015 National Roller Figure Skating Championships in Albuquerque, NM

UIC student Jared Rugen and figure skating partner Emma Trent at the 2015 National Roller Figure Skating Championships in Albuquerque, NM

To find success in skating, “you’ve got to stay focused,” says Jared Rugen.

Rugen, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration, has only been artistic roller skating — a sport similar to figure skating but on roller skates — for three years, but he’s already earned a berth on Team USA to compete in the 2015 World Roller Figure Skating Championships. He and his partner, Emma Trent, are skating in the international roller figure skating competition in Cali, Colombia, which began Tuesday and runs though Sept. 27. The event features nearly 1,500 athletes from 30 countries.

Rugen has managed to master the art of balancing schoolwork with his passion for skating. He spends a lot of time working on homework during his commute to the Lynwood Roller Rink.

“Anything that I don’t need Internet for I usually do on the train, traveling back and forth from the rink,” he said.

While he admits that balancing school with skating can be challenging during finals week, overall he hasn’t found it difficult to stay on top of his work.

“If I don’t stay focused, then I usually fall behind,” he said.

From using inline skates to quad skates, Rugen rose to nationals at a rapid pace, placing at the national level all three years that he has been skating. Trent, his partner, goes to the University of Missouri but travels to Lynwood to skate with Rugen on weekends and during school breaks.

Rugen and Trent competed in the 2015 National Championship in New Mexico in July, receiving world qualifying scores and taking fourth place. They were not placed on Team USA at first, but when another team dropped out, they were offered the spot. They took on the challenge of facing last-minute preparations with help from their coach, John Peck, owner of the Lynwood Roller Rink.

“Luckily, my coach has been there a few times, so he kind of knows the ins and outs,” Rugen said.

Rugen, who is majoring in entrepreneurship, said he looks forward to the competition as an opportunity for growth.

“I’m going there for the experience and to plan for the next one.”

UIC Open House — October 3

9/12/11 Grant Hall, Douglas Hall, and Lincoln Hall with Chicago skyline

Grant Hall, Douglas Hall, and Lincoln Hall with Chicago skyline

The University of Illinois at Chicago will showcase its diverse programs and academic opportunities as it welcomes thousands of prospective students, families, friends, alumni and community members to the UIC Open House from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on October 3rd at the UIC Forum, 725 W. Roosevelt Road.

The open house will feature a variety of informational activities involving UIC’s colleges, departments and organizations. The program includes admissions and financial aid sessions, guided tours of the campus and residence halls and academic presentations featuring UIC faculty.

Guest check-in will be at the UIC Forum, where representatives of academic units and student support services will be available to answer questions from 8 a.m. to noon.

Prospective students, alumni, and community members can explore opportunities for involvement at a student life fair staffed by student organizations and campus programs.

Visitors can plan their day with the UIC 2015 Open House Guidebook, a mobile app available on Android, iOS and the web. The guidebook, available to download here, offers convenient access to information, maps and materials.

Advance registration is recommended for prospective students, but not required for others planning to attend. Schedule and registration are online at


September is Hunger Action Month

What started off as a simple idea of a few UIC students 10 months ago has turned into something big. SPARK gives back to the community by distributing food and putting clothes on the backs of those in need.

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The UIC Heritage Garden grows not only plants, but a sense of community, sustainability, diversity and social justice.

UIC Enrollment sets new records

CAMP.CIRC.LG.REDThe University of Illinois at Chicago reported enrolling institutional-bests in total students, undergraduates and professional students in data released last week.

Total enrollment for the 2015-2016 academic year is 29,048 students, as measured on the 10th day of classes, a traditional benchmark for enrollment data. The new mark is a 4 percent increase over last year and 1,010 students more than the previous high, set in 2013.

This year’s student body includes 17,511 undergraduate, 8,114 graduate, 3,007 professional, and 416 continuing education students. Undergraduate enrollment rose 804 students from the prior year, while the graduate and professional enrollments increased by 202 and 63 students respectively.

“It’s a huge vote of confidence by the students, parents and those who support our applicants in selecting UIC,” says Kevin Browne, UIC vice provost for academic and enrollment services. “It’s a great year and a compliment to the university – the energy of the chancellor, deans and colleges, who are talking about UIC in a way that resonates with parents and students.”

This year’s freshman class increased by 15 percent, to 3,485 from 3,030. The one-year retention rate for new freshmen was also up, to 81.5 percent from 79.7 percent last year.

Browne said more students are enrolling and returning to UIC — due, in part, to improved marketing and recruiting efforts.

“We are doing a better job of letting students know what the experience is,” Browne said. “Their perspective matches their reality. Your first day on campus shouldn’t be your first day on campus. We want to get the students here to see we are an urban, diverse, research university.”

UIC’s well-known diversity continues, with a racial and ethnic makeup of its student body that is 37.7 percent white, 18.4 percent Asian, 20.8 percent Hispanic/Latino and 7.9 percent African-American. Undergraduate enrollment is 33.7 percent white, 28.2 percent Hispanic/Latino, 22.2 percent Asian, and 8.1 percent African-American.

Earlier this year, the Department of Education recognized UIC as eligible to apply for federal opportunities set aside for Hispanic-Serving Institutions. UIC was designated an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution in 2010.

Beginning with the fall 2013 admissions cycle, UIC became the first public university in Illinois to use the Common Application, an online undergraduate admission application shared by more than 600 colleges and universities.

UIC College of Dentistry Participates in Girls 4 Sciences Event

The UIC College of Dentistry’s Division for Prevention and Public Health Sciences in summer participated in a dental health education session for the youth organization Girls 4 Science.

Girls 4 Science is a non-profit organization that addresses the lack of accessible quality science programs for female youth in the Chicagoland area. The organization’s leadership believes science exposure and increased scientific literacy will equip young women to confidently pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) studies and careers. The program was created by a mother whose daughter expressed an interest in a career in science.

This summer module focused on health education. The College of Dentistry contributed to the health module by providing a lesson plan with information about oral health education, how the oral cavity affects the overall health of the body, careers in dentistry, and applying to dental schools. The two-hour session was led by volunteer UIC dental students and held simultaneously at three college campuses—Olive Harvey College in Chicago, St. Francis University in Joliet, and Malcolm X College in Chicago.

“We reached nearly 200 girls ages ten-to-18,” said Janelle Wade, Program Coordinator, Extramural Education.

For more information on Girls 4 Science, log on to: