Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Schnake, Pam '78

Meet Pam Schnake ’78. She’ll inspire you with enthusiasm, leadership, motivation and creativity. Because that’s what she does for living. It’s also who she is.

Pam Schnake, a Decatur resident, is owner and founder of ELS Unlimited Inc., which has designed and delivered team development training in Central Illinois since 1996. In the beginning, Schnake was the company. But barely five years later, ELS Unlimited has a staff of 15 and last year provided services to over 4,100 participants.

ELS Unlimited’s primary customers are college-level, youth and business groups seeking to learn teamwork, communication and creative problem solving. Schnake provides just that, by arranging interactive workshops for these people to learn how to work better as a group and enjoy themselves in the process. Her company’s business season runs from mid-April to mid-October because its teambuilding programs are primarily held outdoors.

Her motivation for helping others is simple. “Adults work so hard at their jobs, and kids work so hard at their studies,” she says. “If they could have more fun at work and be more effective and if the kids could get along and have better friendships, so that they break down some of the barriers that stand between each other and have a better understanding of one another, it would just do so much for people.”

A typical session of Schnake’s experience-based learning includes an obstacle course, group challenges and cooperation exercises. A participating group is provided with literature on approaches to teamwork, given materials to accurately document the way they work together and encouraged to discuss how they could do so more efficiently. The ultimate goal is for a group to come to understand their strengths, weaknesses and leadership styles as well as to build commitment to each other and overall team excellence. 

From stay-at-home mom to president of her own company - that’s Pam Schnake.

Read the complete profile in the fall 2002 issue of Millikin Quarterly magazine.

Owen, Nancy '75

Nancy Owen ’75 of Chicago proves that with the right foundation you can live more than once. Her dramatic shift from a career as a professor of biochemistry at The Chicago Medical School, to becoming one of Northwestern University’s professors of gender studies and art history is a case study in how it’s done.

At Millikin, she had the opportunity to lay the groundwork for both callings. “I learned a lot at Millikin in the classroom that prepared me for graduate work in pharmacology,” she says, “I also participated in several musical groups and in a humanities honors seminar that nurtured my interest in the arts, which always existed in tandem with my passion for science.” She also found time to participate in the University Wind Ensemble, the Orchestra and smaller chamber music ensembles in addition to taking clarinet and piano lessons.

She established herself well in both disciplines, earning a Ph.D. in pharmacology in 1980 and working for 15 years in the field of science. During a year’s sabbatical in 1989 Owen decided to pursue a master’s degree in art history at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

After the year was up she resigned from the medical school, finished her MA degree and went on to complete a Ph.D. in art history and a graduate certificate in women’s studies at Northwestern. She’s been a lecturer at Northwestern ever since, and in 2001 Ohio University Press published her book, “Rookwood and the Industry of Art: Women, Culture and Commerce, 1880-1913.”

She says her career change taught her that she can do just about anything she puts her effort behind, but that there are definite limits, something she hadn’t fully realized before.

“I learned that my passions for research and teaching were constants regardless of what field I applied them to,” she says. “I learned what it feels like to go from a position of relative power (professor) to a position of powerlessness (student). I think this made me more aware and pro-student than I may have been before.”

Owen proves that it is possible to follow more than one dream—and to succeed in realizing both.

To read the full-length profile of Nancy Owen, check out the summer issue of Millikin Quarterly Magazine.

Kot Noyes, Leslie '70

She had always wanted to write a book, but even in her imagination, she probably never considered a book of this size.

It started out to be a simple booklet written in collaboration with two professors at the Alaska School of Mines, but 712 pages later, Leslie Kot Noyes, a 1970 Millikin graduate, found she had written her first book: “Rock Poker to Pay Dirt,” a definitive history of Alaska’s School of Mines and the state’s mineral history. In recognition of her significant contribution, she received the Earl H. Beistline award from the University of Alaska School of Mines last spring.

“Basically it took 10 years to write and 3 years to publish the book,” Noyes says.

“This book recounts more than 50 years of history and stories – all of them intriguing, and important, some of them poignant and some of then hilarious, says the University of Alaska Press.” From gold rush to oil boom, ‘Rock Poker’ ... describes the history of Alaska’s most important industry as no other publication has done.”

Noyes majored in music and a combined major in psychology and religion at Millikin and was pursuing graduate work in historic preservation at Sangamon State University in Springfield, Ill., when her then husband convinced her to move to Alaska. Noyes soon fell in love with the state and realized she was going to stay in Alaska as a “sourdough.” The term, according to her neighbor, “Shorty” Philpot, meant “sour on the land, too short on the dough to leave.”

Noyes ultimately moved to Fairbanks, where she became a researcher for the state on federal land issues and a director for the Miners Advocacy Council. She also began taking magazine writing courses at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

“I had a great professor who said: You get an ‘A’ if published, a ‘B’ if you get a rejection slip and a ‘C’ if you have a manuscript ready to mail,” she says.  

Today, Noyes owns Dits’in Yah Arts Ltd., a freelance writing business in Golden, Colo. where she and her husband, Harold, have lived since 1998.

Read the complete profile in the Winter 2003-04 issue of Millikin Quarterly magazine.

Russell, Kathy '78

In the 1970s, some Millikin students found winter term to be an opportunity to travel, enjoy a more relaxed pace or pursue an interest outside their major. But for Kathy Russell ’78, it was a turning point. In 1976, the pre-med major took a course in allied health, where students chose a profession and a program, researched it and made a class presentation. Russell explored the occupational therapy program at Washington University, and her friend, Beth Lyman ’78, researched the nursing program at Wesley-Passavant School of Nursing in Chicago. By the end of winter term, the two Pi Phis had each decided to pursue the program presented by the other – Lyman applied to occupational therapy at Wash U, and Russell made up her mind to study nursing at Wesley-Passavant.

Her decision started Russell on a career journey that has included work as a pediatric oncology nurse, a clinical instructor in pediatric nursing, a law school student, a medical malpractice attorney and, most recently, a food pantry manager. What’s the common denominator of such a wide-ranging career path? To Russell, it’s the opportunity to be an advocate for others.

“As a pediatric nurse, when you care for a child you also care for the family,” she says. “You have the responsibility to tend to the child’s medical and developmental needs as well as a chance to serve as an advocate for the child and the family at a very difficult time.”

It’s a role Russell enjoyed, working first at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago and then at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. After earning a master’s degree in nursing from UCLA, she moved back to Chicago in 1986 and took a position teaching pediatric nursing at Rush University Medical Center, where she was encouraged to pursue another advanced degree. She decided health law would be a good fit, earning her juris doctorate and a certificate in health law in 1992 from DePaul University. Rather than return to teaching, Russell decided to use her medical and legal knowledge as a patient’s advocate, working as a medical malpractice attorney for the law firm of Pavalon & Gifford.

“Being a trial attorney was all-consuming and extremely hard work, but I loved it,” Russell says. “Because I had the nursing background, I understood the medicine, which gave me more understanding of the patients’ concerns and more credibility with the medical staff and experts I was deposing. It was very satisfying to have the chance to continue to advocate for patients, just in a different way.”

Russell became a partner in the firm and continued
that work until 1999, when she and her husband, Charlie Krikorian, decided to explore adoption. Within a month of beginning the process, they welcomed 1-year-old Allie to
their family, and Russsell left the practice to take on a new advocacy role as a mom and, by extension, a school and
community volunteer.

That volunteer work led Russell to her latest career adventure, serving as co-operations manager of the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry, a non-profit group whose mission is “working together to provide hunger relief in our community.” Since 2005, when Russell began volunteering, the Pantry has seen a 170 percent increase in the number of clients it serves, and nearly 24,000 people received food in 2008. Securing food donations, raising money, organizing volunteers and educating the public are all part of Russell’s job. She’s found that the skills she picked up as a nurse, teacher and attorney come in handy in her current role.

“I spent a lot of time asking juries for money, and that’s definitely a skill I use in fundraising for the food pantry,” she says with a smile. With donations climbing from $45,000 in 2006 to more than $166,000 in 2008, there’s no doubt her work has made a difference. She says this work, too, is about advocacy. “We advocate by raising money, by telling the stories of the people we serve and by working with the Illinois Hunger Coalition on legislation that will help our clients.”

For their efforts, the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry received the Outstanding Agency Award for 2008 from the Greater Chicago Food Depository. “I’m proud of our whole community for stepping up in so many ways, as donors and volunteers, to advocate for people who don’t have the means to feed themselves,” Russell says. “I’m grateful to have a chance to be a part of that work.”

by Cathy Good Lockman ’79

The complete article appeared in spring 2009 issue of Millikin Quarterly magazine.

Arnold, Jeff '76

Fall. Cool, crisp air. Red, orange mess of leaves in the trees and streets. The return of students back to class.

And according to Jeff Arnold ’76, the start of four months of too much quiet.

Arnold and his wife, Susan, are the parents of eight – that’s right eight – children ranging in age from 22 to 8: Barrett, 22, a senior communication major at Millikin; Katie, 21, a Millikin junior majoring in English; Laura, 19, who is attending Loyola University; Lydia, 18, the next Millikin hopeful; Ellie, who celebrates her sweet 16 on Dec. 5; Amelia, 14, the last daughter in her first year of high school; Craig, who ironically turned 11 on Nov. 11; and Rory, 8, the youngest Arnold with the cutest smile.
 
Arnold admits that having a large family has its overwhelming moments. He and Sue both came large families and knew they wanted the same for their own.

“Sue and I made a premeditated choice to have a large family and understood that our lives would be different than a lot of people in today’s world because of it,” says Arnold. “Our lives revolve completely around the kids activities, the home and the office, church and school, and we are happy with that.”

Arnold notes that during the winter (aka school months) everything is regimented and much more orderly; however, summer is a different story. “Our house is a virtual central hug of activity, especially since we have an in-ground pool. During the summer is when I really do need a psychiatrist and/or a spiritual advisor, or at least a space of my own, especially now that so many of the kids are older teenagers.”

So what’s the key to keeping it all together and staying out of the psychiatric ward?

“Most importantly love,” says Arnold, “and then patience, a sense of humor and a strong faith on our part and understand on the kids parts. Both the children and parents must understand that no matter how good Dad’s job may be, there aren’t going to be fancy vacations, expensive cars and a computer or TV for each one when there are eight siblings. Learning to share, by all of us, is the order of the day. They know that resources go toward the basic living necessities and toward grade school, high school and college tuition to provide a solid foundation for the future.”

Ah yes. Education. Another important staple in the Arnold household. With three of the children already in college (two of which are attending Millikin), no one can argue that the Arnold kids don’t know the importance of a solid education. How did they get such a strong sense of value for education?

“By example,” says Arnold. “Both Sue and I, as well as every one of their grandparents, every one of my four sisters, every one of my wife’s four brothers and two sisters not only went to college, but graduated from college. Our children were never told they had to go to college or were forced to go to college, they just knew they were going to college. It is important to attend college from not only a purely education point of view, but from a socialization one as well. A chance to ‘leave the nest’ and discover a new world ‘out there.’ To make mistakes and succeed too. It is, of course, our hope that the remaining five all go to college too, but we won’t love them any less if they don’t.”

On his down time, Arnold is CEO of the Association of Rotational Molders International, a trade association that currently represents member companies in 58 countries. He attributes the steady running of the Arnold household to Susan, who also does volunteer work for St. Peters Catholic Church and Rosary High School, both where the children attend school.

So what leaving advice do the experts have for us?

“There is definitely one piece of advice that we would give any parents, whether they are first time parents or not, and that is to love your kids as much as possible each and every day,” says Arnold.  “Where there is strong love, many perceived problems disappear or evaporate. A lot of patience doesn’t hurt either but that comes with love. Love conquers all.”

The complete article appeared in the winter 2005-06 issue of Millikin Quarterly magazine.

Charveron, Chris ’79

Chris Charveron ’79 counts himself lucky to have been able to pursue his dream of serving his nation in the military while making a living as an engineer. The lieutenant colonel recently returned to his Decatur hometown and visited his favorite professor, Dr. William L. Williams ’55, Tabor School of Business professor emeritus. 

“I graduated from Millikin University in 1979 with an industrial engineering degree, and I was what you might call a ‘non-traditional student’ as most of my seven years on campus involved working midnight shifts at Decatur’s Firestone plant and taking college courses whenever I could fit them in,” he says. Charveron worked at Firestone from July 1972 until his retirement in July 2006.  In 1983, while still at Firestone, he enlisted in the Illinois National Guard as an infantry scout. Approximately 23 of his 34 years with Firestone were also with the Illinois National Guard and for nine of those years he had active duty status.

Currently, Charveron serves as the bilateral affairs officer in the Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, Poland, a post he has held since June 2001. The majority of ODC activity is associated with foreign military sales and financing, which is how many countries purchase U.S. military equipment and training. 

For his work in Poland, Charveron was awarded the Polish Armed Forces Bronze Medal by Lieutenant General Waldemar Skrzypczak, commander of the Polish Land Forces. The presentation ceremony, held early this year, took place in the Land Forces Headquarters Museum located in Poland’s Citadel and recognized Charveron’s “exceptionally meritorious services provided to the Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland.”

What’s next for this traveling military man?

Charveron says, “My six-year tour in Warsaw ends this July, and so far the Army has whittled down my next assignment to somewhere in one of four continents!”

The complete article appeared in the winter Spring 2007 issue of Millikin Quarterly magazine.

Bingham, John ’70

We are conditioned early on to believe that life is linear. We go through the elementary grades in numerical order and even if we really like a particular grade – I would have stayed in third grade for several years if I could have – we have to move up to the next grade.

High school is the same sort of progression; so is  college. At Millikin, we moved steadily forward from freshman to senior year. Each year brought new courses, permissions and possibilities. It’s no wonder that we graduate thinking our life will continue to be linear.

Many of us take this same belief into our fitness programs. If you start as I did – a middle-aged, overweight, over-eating smoker – progress is steady and predictable. If it takes you more than 30 minutes to walk a mile the first time you try, you can expect to get better.

At some point, though, that progress begins to slow down. We plateau. We stop losing weight. We don’t get any faster. We can’t go any farther. And when that happens, too many of us think we’ve reached our potential and quit.

It doesn’t have to be that way. It turns out that lifelong fitness isn’t a straight line that goes on forever. It’s cyclical. It’s what I call the Circle of Success. It’s the constant revolution of inspiration, perspiration, dedication and celebration.

Inspiration: Inspiration is that match-strike of enthusiasm we’ve all experienced hundreds of times. We see something or someone do something, and we think, “I can do that!” We are fired up. We are motivated.

My moment of inspiration usually lasted about three weeks. My garage and basement were filled with the remnants of my 21 days of inspiration: old tennis rackets, bicycles, an array of late-night television fitness gadgets and even a complete fishing set.

The problem with inspiration is that it doesn’t last. Sooner or later, you have to figure out how to get to where you want to be.

Perspiration: Perspiration is getting to the truth about what it’s going to take to change your life. Perspiration is about being completely honest with yourself. If, as I was, you’re a middle-aged man who is 100 pounds overweight and smoking a pack-and-a-half a day, there’s no sense kidding yourself that you’re going to get in shape quickly.

There’s no single way to get fit. Anyone who prescribes a program based on what specifically worked for them is not going to be very helpful. We all have different abilities, interests, metabolisms, emotional limits and goals. Perspiration is about getting real and making a plan.

Dedication: Dedication is about sticking with it. It’s about realizing that what you want to do is going to be more difficult than you thought and take longer than you imagined. Dedication is about understanding that some days, easy will be hard, and on other days, hard will be easy. Dedication is about knowing that today’s investment in fitness will pay off eventually.

Dedication also means setting goals that are reasonable, achievable and repeatable. If this is your first foray into living a healthy, active lifestyle, it won’t help to set winning an Olympic gold medal as your goal.

Celebration: This is one of the most misunderstood and ignored elements of lifelong fitness. You’ve got to find a way to celebrate your successes, large and small. Too often, we believe that we can’t enjoy a sport or activity until we get good at it. We postpone the celebration until we reach some imaginary level of skill or performance.

To be truly successful, you can’t wait. You must learn to celebrate from the very beginning. It’s celebration that brings back the inspiration driving you to the perspiration and dedication, leading to the next celebration and inspiring you all over again.

The Circle of Success is a way to keep you motivated to find the best in yourself. It’s a way to continue to challenge yourself to keep reaching for something that’s just beyond your grasp. It’s a way to spend your life achieving new goals.

And it starts with that first small step toward fitness.

by John Bingham

Russell, Kathy '78

In the 1970s, some Millikin students found winter term to be an opportunity to travel, enjoy a more relaxed pace or pursue an interest outside their major. But for Kathy Russell ’78, it was a turning point. In 1976, the pre-med major took a course in allied health, where students chose a profession and a program, researched it and made a class presentation. Russell explored the occupational therapy program at Washington University, and her friend, Beth Lyman ’78, researched the nursing program at Wesley-Passavant School of Nursing in Chicago. By the end of winter term, the two Pi Phis had each decided to pursue the program presented by the other – Lyman applied to occupational therapy at Wash U, and Russell made up her mind to study nursing at Wesley-Passavant.

Her decision started Russell on a career journey that has included work as a pediatric oncology nurse, a clinical instructor in pediatric nursing, a law school student, a medical malpractice attorney and, most recently, a food pantry manager. What’s the common denominator of such a wide-ranging career path? To Russell, it’s the opportunity to be an advocate for others.

“As a pediatric nurse, when you care for a child you also care for the family,” she says. “You have the responsibility to tend to the child’s medical and developmental needs as well as a chance to serve as an advocate for the child and the family at a very difficult time.”

It’s a role Russell enjoyed, working first at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago and then at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. After earning a master’s degree in nursing from UCLA, she moved back to Chicago in 1986 and took a position teaching pediatric nursing at Rush University Medical Center, where she was encouraged to pursue another advanced degree. She decided health law would be a good fit, earning her juris doctorate and a certificate in health law in 1992 from DePaul University. Rather than return to teaching, Russell decided to use her medical and legal knowledge as a patient’s advocate, working as a medical malpractice attorney for the law firm of Pavalon & Gifford.

“Being a trial attorney was all-consuming and extremely hard work, but I loved it,” Russell says. “Because I had the nursing background, I understood the medicine, which gave me more understanding of the patients’ concerns and more credibility with the medical staff and experts I was deposing. It was very satisfying to have the chance to continue to advocate for patients, just in a different way.”

Russell became a partner in the firm and continued that work until 1999, when she and her husband, Charlie Krikorian, decided to explore adoption. Within a month of beginning the process, they welcomed 1-year-old Allie to their family, and Russsell left the practice to take on a new advocacy role as a mom and, by extension, a school and community volunteer.

That volunteer work led Russell to her latest career adventure, serving as co-operations manager of the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry, a non-profit group whose mission is “working together to provide hunger relief in our community.” Since 2005, when Russell began volunteering, the Pantry has seen a 170 percent increase in the number of clients it serves, and nearly 24,000 people received food in 2008. Securing food donations, raising money, organizing volunteers and educating the public are all part of Russell’s job. She’s found that the skills she picked up as a nurse, teacher and attorney come in handy in her current role.

“I spent a lot of time asking juries for money, and that’s definitely a skill I use in fundraising for the food pantry,” she says with a smile. With donations climbing from $45,000 in 2006 to more than $166,000 in 2008, there’s no doubt her work has made a difference. She says this work, too, is about advocacy. “We advocate by raising money, by telling the stories of the people we serve and by working with the Illinois Hunger Coalition on legislation that will help our clients.”

For their efforts, the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry received the Outstanding Agency Award for 2008 from the Greater Chicago Food Depository. “I’m proud of our whole community for stepping up in so many ways, as donors and volunteers, to advocate for people who don’t have the means to feed themselves,” Russell says. “I’m grateful to have a chance to be a part of that work.”

by Cathy Good Lockman ’79

The complete article appeared in spring 2009 issue of Millikin Quarterly magazine.


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Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
 
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL