CLASS OF 2014
Sheena Bedi is a caring and a hard-working woman who believes in exploring and researching new things. Once she takes up a challenge, she never gives up. She came to the USA in 2010 and finished her MBA in 2012. It has been an interesting and enjoyable journey and experience so far. She never thought she would meet so many international students from different walks of life, cultures and backgrounds. It opened her eyes towards other cultures and traditions. In her free time, she enjoys painting and making sketches. She visits historic places because each has wonderful stories attached to it, and she enjoys reading about it. She strongly believes in the quote by William Penn, “Time is what we want the most but use the worst.” She wants to spread positivity around herself and amongst people. She loves to motivate people around her and help them think positively, come what may.
Seena Bhende is an achievement-oriented, hard-working, balanced and honest person. She enjoys challenging assignments, and loves to learn and experience new things. She is pretty good at handling complex, stressful assignments and taking these to completion. She enjoys coaching and mentoring activities. She is an avid reader and enjoys good books, good movies and spending time with her family and friends. She is constantly looking for avenues of self-improvement and believes that continuous education helps open doors to new adventures and opportunities.
Linda Bollivar has a passion for people, languages and technology. She is the Director of Faith in Action, an interfaith non-profit serving seniors in Bloomington-Normal. In her spare time, she volunteers regularly in the infant nursery and tech loft at her church. Linda is outgoing and loves to learn about new cultures. She and her husband David each studied abroad as students, and after having two children, they expanded their family by six through hosting high school foreign exchange students. Linda thrives on new experiences, can strike up a conversation with just about anyone, and naturally finds joy and humor in life. Whether she is working at a church or synagogue, with infants or the elderly, she tries to live with Matthew 25:40 in mind: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Joy Born considers herself a lifelong student because she looks at every experience as an opportunity to learn something new. She believes it’s important to not let negative thoughts take up real estate in your head, but to focus on what is positive in your life. Joy enjoys her job because it gives her the opportunity to coach and help others; It also satisfies her aspiration for change and the dynamics of a variety of relationships. She firmly believes your home should be your castle, so when not at work she loves spending time with her husband and their son, playing Frisbee with their two dogs, gardening, cooking and reading thought provoking novels.
Tara Brown is an enthusiastic, motivated and detail oriented woman. She was born and raised in the Bloomington-Normal area, where she also currently resides. Over the past six years, Tara has been an active employee at the Clinton Power Plant where she enjoys volunteering with the United Way Campaign. She also finds it important to give back to her community, which is why Tara volunteers as a Rape Crisis Advocate with the Stepping Stones Sexual Assault Program at the YWCA McLean County in Bloomington. She currently attends Lincoln College in Normal and is scheduled to graduate in 2014. In her free time, Tara enjoys spending time with her four year old son, shopping, completing continuing education classes and spoiling her five nieces.
Emmanuel Calmes is a curious and open-minded Frenchman who resided between Paris and the South of France, before arriving in Bloomington eight years ago. An IT consultant and father of four, his personal and professional journey has been shaped by life-changing events. This explains his favorite quote: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” Considering life-altering events as opportunities for growth, discovery and learning, he embraces change and mobility. He enjoys a wide variety of ethnic foods and music, fine arts, interior design and discovering different cultures and civilizations. He combines all of these by traveling whenever he can, which allows him to share his passions with his multicultural family and friends. He is particularly concerned about opportunities for adults with autism and hopes to contribute to the range of employment and living choices available to them.
Stephanie Duquenne is an ISU Redbird through and through. She began her career at ISU as an undergrad in 2001 and has continued to stay involved with ISU both personally and professionally. Stephanie is very blessed to be using her event planning and public relations skills every day to help connect other Redbirds to the University through her work in the Alumni Relations department. Stephanie is passionate about getting to know new people and involving herself in the Bloomington-Normal community through a variety of activities. She has a particular interest in the welfare of less fortunate community members, and has found that positive energy, kind words and being a doer can make a huge difference in people’s lives. Personally, Stephanie enjoys running, spending time with her beautiful daughter, husband and friends and taking in the latest Community Players production.
Lauren Eckhardt is a compassionate, reflective, and passionate individual that believes every single experience in life, no matter how small, is a critical learning opportunity for yourself and to share with others. She is very psychology-based which makes her analytical to a fault, continually seeking to understand what makes people tick and trying to understand the world from different perspectives. Lauren is fueled by her desire to try new things and see new places. She is interested in just about all things (from archaeology to astronomy to sports to art and everything in between) but books, animals, food, family, faith and traveling are just a few of the things that she loves the most. Lauren is a firm believer that there is hope in all things, and always a way to succeed, even if the rest of the world is saying there’s not.
Phyllis Glover-Webster moved to Bloomington from Seattle, Washington in October 2012 to work as a Technical Analyst at State Farm on DC4 projects. She has since added Case Management for DC4 to her role as an Infrastructure Coordinator. She is recently married and the mother of two sons Phyllis enjoys helping others. One of her best experiences was mentoring female engineers. The intention was to make them self-sufficient testers – mission accomplished! Phyllis sees community service as a favorite activity with her work teams. They have served over 500 children and 200 adults. Activities have included painting and wiring an orphanage and schools for CATV. Teams provided school supplies and school clothing to a battered women’s shelter, SOS Children’s Village, Fairmont School, and Smith Elementary School. At Fairmont School in Lockport, IL the team set up their first computer lab and donated 2,500 books for the library. It is not just volunteering, it is really a powerful moment in life. We had the opportunity to see our team members in a whole new light and gain a deeper respect for one another. The smiles on the faces of the families and the children are the best reward possible! I actually saw HOPE!
Ivan Hall is an Analyst at a major insurance and financial services company, with most of his 15-year career being in P&C Claims. Ivan is also an active member of his church as well as the Bloomington-Normal Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated, being the webmaster for both. When he is not spending time with his family, he enjoys playing golf and softball, in addition to watching college football. He is passionate about giving people the opportunity to succeed, and looks for ways to have a positive impact on the lives of others.
You might recognize Dipti Hattangady from her infectious laughter and easy smile, which makes her a lot of friends. Behind her charm, you will find that she is a sincere (but not serious) seeker who loves new experiences. She is extremely nerdy but also has a creative side and creates designs for her jewelry line called Luxme Jewels. She loves animals, bugs, people, babies, sunshine, shiny things and stuff, but not necessarily in any order. She stays grounded with regular yoga, lots of meditation and by talking lots and lots with her family and friends. So if you hear her, don’t hesitate to say hi!
Cheryl A. Hussain embraces each day of life as a new adventure; she takes time to appreciate the blessings that surround us in the present moment, but also, to discover what God’s next plans are for the future. She believes in a balance of work, service to others, visits to the gym and time with her husband and family. In 2006, Cheryl founded Majestic Interior Design in Bloomington, IL, and she is thankful for every opportunity to utilize her creative energy. Keeping her feet on the ground can be somewhat of a challenge, though, as she can be found either dancing to club music in her studio late at night, or departing on the next Delta flight out of town for a short trip! “I am thankful and honored to be accepted into MCLP, and I eagerly anticipate the knowledge to be gained that will make me a better person, ready to share what I have learned.”
Bobbi Hynes, aka “the Red Tornado,” is passionate about living a life of meaning and service to her family, her community and her God. She believes a good sense of humor and positive approach to life are contagious and she loves to spread those germs, especially as Volunteer Director at St. Joseph hospital. She is happiest feeding friends and family a great Italian meal or when singing in church and anywhere else she is invited! She believes you should never stop learning new things like how to get great travel deals online. She loved being a board member of Habitat for Humanity, and is proud to be affiliated with her alma mater, ISU. There, she is president of the Friends of the Arts board, where she can share her love of the arts by providing scholarships to students. She believes that leadership is a lifelong journey that can only occur if others will travel with you.
Tejas Jani has his roots in India, but has found his wings in the US! This hybrid combination of the two cultures has given Tejas a great view of life in general. Tejas has been in the IT industry for about thirteen years. He is your typical IT geek with experience in everything from networking to hardware and software, and finally finding a home within the world of Android and Google. Currently, Tejas is working as an Android Test Lead. His other passions and hobbies include horseback riding, sketching, camping, exercising and spending time with family and friends. Additionally, he loves to bootload and try out different ROMs on Android devices. Tejas loves helping others with their technology challenges. His ultimate goal is to be able to make positive changes in the lives of the people around him and beyond, by utilizing the technology!
Ajay Kalavala believes in John Quincy Adams’ leadership quote, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” Ajay is an honest, committed, energetic, strong-minded and hard-working individual who lives with a vision to build a better society and organization. He is currently serving as President-elect for MCIA, is an active volunteer and founding member of Telugu Association of Bloomington, and also works as volunteer in different community activities and programs. He plays a key role in all organization decisions and part of a core planning committee that initiates, designs, develops and implements several organization activities, community services, charity services, fund-raising activities and education promotional activities. He likes to set a standard for service that encourages a sustained commitment to civic participation and inspires others to make service a central part of their lives. In his free time, he enjoys playing cricket, meeting new people, watching sports and spending time with his two year-old son.
Kiranmayi Konam is a straight-forward and focused person who enjoys working with people. She practices what she preaches, which makes her trustworthy among her friends and peers very quickly. She is a good listener, which she believes is a key characteristic of a true leader. She also believes in simple living, avoiding wastage and re-using resources in everything we do. Her family consists of a terrific husband and two kids whom she adores and loves spending time with. She believes in taking small steps to achieve the final result; every drop makes a difference. On the same motto, she has been involved in some volunteering activities. She participated in Spandana’s 5K run & Sai Samsthan’s ‘Sai Uphara’. She enjoys listening to music, doing Zumba, biking and traveling. One of her fun activities is to watch cake videos with her daughter!
Sateesh Nallamothu moved to the U.S.A after completing his Master’s Program in Computer Sciences in India seventeen years ago. He believes that hard work cannot be replaced, and the years proved him right. Before moving to Bloomington-Normal he has spent years working in several large cities. He prefers small cities, because he can have a better quality of life and spend more time with his family. He has been working in State Farm since 2005 and truly enjoys his work. He performs better when challenged and loves to tackle complex problems. He supports better childhood education and encourages his kids and others to recycle. He enjoys gardening and proudly distributes home grown vegetables during summer months to friends and family. He loves to cook, go bike riding, watch movies and to drive long distances for his family’s vacations. He is a busy dad of two wonderful girls who are eight and six. He helps out his wife a lot in raising the girls and other household chores.
Julie Navickas is a hard working, life-long learner. She thrives on her ability to empower others, and is often described as a naturally empathetic servant leader. An enthusiastic advocate for volunteerism and animal rights, Julie is passionate about helping those that cannot help themselves. Described as a realist, Julie is always dedicated to the task at hand and enjoys putting 110% into any commitment. She moved to the Bloomington-Normal community in 2006, as a transfer student to Illinois State University and has since completed a B.S. and M.S. in public relations and organizational communication. She is an avid traveler, and spent a summer abroad in Paris, France through an ISU study abroad program. In her free time, Julie enjoys spending time with her husband and three Humane Society adopted dogs, Hannah, Snoopy and Dexter. A true Chicago sports fan, Julie enjoys rooting for the Chicago Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls and Cubs. She’s an enthusiastic individual who believes in the power of teamwork and the beauty of what life has to offer.
Kristin Manzi is a social worker living in Normal for the past nine years. A double graduate of Illinois State University, she co-parents 2 cats and has raised over 50 foster pets through the Humane Society of Central Illinois. Kristin’s biggest passions are empowering women and helping others move past traumas in their past, and she hopes to be considered a supportive and nurturing leader. When she is not working and volunteering at the nonprofits she is passionate about, she cycles, knits and works on imperfect but well-loved DIY and craft projects.
Dakesa Pina believes that the foundation of a successful life is healthy relationships. She values building quality relationships with others through honesty, kindness, vulnerability and service. She reflects these values in both her personal and personal life. As a Marriage and Family Therapist, Dakesa specializes in working with clients who have experienced interpersonal difficulties or traumatic events. When not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband, two children and church family. Dakesa also enjoys volunteering, and has a special passion for meeting needs in the West Bloomington community. Those closest to her describe her as driven, kind, trustworthy, hardworking and insightful. She also has an insatiable appetite for new knowledge that is fed by listening to National Public Radio, watching the Public Broadcasting Station, and planning educational activities for her family.
Jerin Thomas is a determined, passionate and goal-oriented individual who believes in giving her best to every opportunity that comes her way. She is optimistic, fun loving and enjoys building and preserving trustworthy relationships. Her never give up attitude helps her succeed, even in the worst of situations. Her family is closest to her heart and she loves spending time with them more than anything else. Reading, shopping, Zumba, cooking, watching movies, hosting parties and writing are some of her other hobbies. Becoming a servant leader became personally meaningful to her during her childhood, as she visited various orphanages in India with her parents. This led to her active involvement with charitable organizations like Mother Theresa’s homes while in college, and several community organizations within Bloomington through the iGate community initiative’s team. She firmly believes and lives by Saint Francis Assisi’s quote “For it is in giving that we receive.”
Lola Thomas-Albright is a hard worker, energetic and a highly motivated woman. She believes you should never start something that you know you cannot complete. Lola enjoys doing volunteer work throughout the community such as feeding the homeless, and doing clothing drives for the youth. She is a wife, mother of six children (four girls and two boys), and a friend to many. Lola values the quality time spent with her family and friends as well as traveling to various places. She hopes that by being a part of the Multicultural Leadership Program this will allow her to build upon her strengths so she can become more engaged in her community.
Tammy Vancil is caring, creative, spiritual and optimistic. She strives to live life to the fullest each and every day. She is passionate about education and helping the youth of today become the best leaders for tomorrow’s world. She continuously looks for ways to grow and learn more through all of life’s experiences. Her philosophy is everyone can make a difference in our world through big or little actions, which reflect God’s will. She enjoys scrapbooking, photography, reading and spending time with family and friends. Tammy believes in the benefits of a positive attitude, and that it’s an individual’s choice that leads to a happier and more successful life.