Margaretmary Emefiele

“The University has been great to me.  I have freedom, but also I have the guidance I need."

February 22, 2013

Margaretmary Emefiele is making the most of her opportunities as a student.

 Margaretmary Emefiele is making the most of her opportunities as a student.

            A senior majoring in political science, she is the inaugural recipient of the Jerome Mileur Internship through the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.  The program is designed to give students experience in public service and government, and she is spending this semester in Springfield, working in the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Office of Women’s Health.

One of six children, her family emigrated to Chicago from Lagos, Nigeria, in 2001 when she was 11 years old. Her parents wanted their children to receive a better education than was available in their native country.  Margaretmary found what she was looking for at SIU.

            “The University has been great to me.  I have freedom, but also I have the guidance I need.  If I have needed mentorship, there are many avenues.  If I ever need advice, there are many ways to do that.  Students need to build relationships with their professors, their peers, whomever can help them. You never know when you will need assistance.”

            It definitely has not been a one-way street, either. During her sophomore year, she served as a peer mentor, helping new students adjust to campus life and academic expectations.  We re-introduced that program last fall because of the positive influence older students can have on their younger peers.

            Margaretmary had been thinking about studying abroad after earning her degree.  While she plans to eventually pursue a master’s degree and a diplomatic career – perhaps as a liaison between Nigeria and the U.S. as she holds dual citizenship --  her internship is opening her eyes to contributions she can make in public health.  For example, she wants to help reduce or eliminate health disparities among women and children in the U.S.

            Exploring new opportunities is exactly what Jerry Mileur had in mind when he generously funded the internship.  His education – he earned bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from SIU – set the stage for him to enjoy a very successful and satisfying career.  Originally from Murphysboro, Jerry taught at the Rochester Institute of Technology, SIU, and the University of Michigan before joining the faculty at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  He retired as chairman of the political science department there in 2004 after a 37-year career.  A true baseball aficionado, he is the author of books on the St. Louis Cardinals, and he owned a minor league baseball team for many years.

            “My hope with the internship is that it opens up a different door for students to learn what they might do with their lives. ”

             Margaretmary already is proving to be an effective ambassador. Her boss at the public health agency, Deputy Director Brenda Jones, considers Margaretmary a real asset in the Office of Women’s Health.

            “I would look forward to future interns from SIU if they have the same caliber of professionalism.”

            Brenda is learning what we already know about Margaretmary and her fellow students.  They make a positive difference wherever they go.