February 14, 2014

23 students chosen for Women’s Civic Institute

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill.  -- The Women’s Civic Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is bringing together 23 female graduate and undergraduate students for a special leadership and development program. 

SIU is one of the 50 lead institutions for the National Civic and Democratic Learning Initiative, and the university’s Center for Service Learning and Volunteerism developed the institute, now in its second year. Participants were chosen on the basis of applications and interviews, and share an interest in becoming more aware, engaged citizens and in developing leadership skills to facilitate careers in public service. 

Dozens of local families are the beneficiaries of a community service project that kicked off the 2014 institute.  Students assembled 60 backpacks for women, children and babies staying at The Women’s Center, Inc. shelter in Carbondale. 

Throughout the semester, the students will interact with female leaders from the public and non-profit sectors, take part in topical seminars, and participate in and lead community service events in the area. 

The first activity was to assist in meeting the basic needs of those who come to the center to escape domestic violence.  Participants also heard presentations from the Jackson County Health Department, Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale, Senior Adult Services, Carbondale Main Street, Green Earth, the Carbondale Public Library and The Women’s Center about the various organizations and community service opportunities that each organization offers.  Each participant will choose an organization to work with.  

“All the choices we’ve been given are so amazing,” Lauren Gallagher, an institute participant from Homewood, said.  

In the coming weeks participants will also meet with elected female officials, along with leaders in higher education and non-profit organizations.  The discussion panels, lectures, community service opportunities and other activities give participants the opportunity to learn, develop and grow. 

“For the second year in a row, we have selected an outstanding group of women to participate in the Women’s Civic Institute.  We have expanded the program to introduce participants to the many paths available for civic leadership and public service.  The program is designed to help participants become aware of the complex and challenging issues facing our society.  Just as important, we want each participant to become aware of her potential to make a difference and to see public service as a key to democratic engagement,” Mythili Rundblad, coordinator of the Center for Service-Learning and Volunteerism, said.    

Those selected to participate in the 2014 Women’s Civic Institute, listed by hometown with major and year, are:


  • Nikki Falk, graduate student, counseling psychology.


  • Mariela Agrawal, doctoral student, educational administration and higher education.


  • Siedah McNeil, junior, social work.
  • Victoria Onifade, junior, health care management.
  • Desiree Wordlaw, freshman, political science.

Du Quoin

  • Amber Gregory, graduate student, social work.


  • Alexandra Nicole Mistak, senior, sociology.

Grant Park

  • Megan Ritter, junior, radiography


  • Lauren Gallagher, sophomore, political science


  • Kaitlin Blakeney, junior, criminology and criminal justice.


  • Makayla Bonney, graduate student, geography.

Oak Park

  • Nicole Sack, graduate student, political science.


  • Alexis Golden, senior, business management.

South Holland

  • Endia McDonald, senior, healthcare management.



  • Stephanie Gonzalez, sophomore, business.



  • Emily Loehmer, graduate student, community nutrition.


Jefferson City

  • Alicia Renee Bamber, graduate student, plant biology.

St. Louis

  • Ashley Shields, graduate student, public health.

New York

Fort Ann

  • Jill Marie Pratt, sophomore, dental hygiene.

Saratoga Springs

  • Anjanette Tucker, graduate student, social work.


Round Rock

  • Abigail Davis, freshman, elementary education.


Whidbey Island

  • Lindsay Knaus, graduate student, political science.



  • Jenna Hubaishy, freshman, political science