Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Building a Better Tomorrow

College-level soccer took Jamiahus Walton ’13 of Peoria, Ill., by surprise his freshman year. “In high school, I was used to being one of the bigger guys on the team,” he says, “but at Millikin, everyone was about the same. I couldn’t get away with the little stuff I used to, and it was absolutely terrifying.” The learning curve was steep, but Walton came into his own quickly. He was dubbed Rookie MVP for the Big Blue men’s soccer team, went on to start for the team for three years and has aided others both on and off the field. Walton has a big heart for helping children and regularly volunteers at various after-school programs. In one of his most memorable experiences, he met Myshaun Dozier, a disabled child who played soccer on a local youth team. According to Myshaun’s mother, his performance on the field improved dramatically after Walton practiced with him. “Seeing him enjoy that so much gave me a feeling that I don’t think I can measure against any other accomplishment,” Walton says.

Soccer is just one of a myriad of avenues Walton uses to connect with people. Currently, he volunteers at Club 305, an after-school program at Decatur’s First Christian Church. Through the program, he serves as a positive role model for students of Parsons Elementary School and assists fifth-grade students with their mathematics homework. Last year, he served as the resident assistant for his fellow Long-Vanderburg Caterpillar scholars. “They were all brilliant students, and being able to be a leader for them has pushed me in a positive direction,” Walton says. Walton also connects with people through Soul Food Ministries, a part of Millikin’s InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. “It’s called a ministry because we want it to grow into something where people’s lives can change. If it was just a Bible study group, we wouldn’t have to put a name on it. We named it Soul Food because we’re feeding the soul so lives can change.”

Brothers Moving Forward, formerly known as Black Men Incorporated, is another student organization Walton has helped lead during his Millikin career. “Being a part of Brothers Moving Forward has allowed me to encourage young men to be positive role models in the community and not be victims of society’s negativity,” Walton says. His efforts to serve as a role model have been noticed by Dr. Eric Martell, associate professor of physics. “Jamiahus is concerned that younger black males do not lack for role models who express themselves through violence or anger, and he feels compelled to show these young men that there is another way,” Martell says. “But that is only part of what he does that is so noteworthy. Jamiahus has managed to maintain a 3.818 GPA while double majoring in physics and mathematics.” Walton received the Scovill Prize last semester, serves as a lab assistant for the physics department and a peer tutor for the Math Center, and was named 2012 Outstanding Physics Major. He also participated in an engineering internship with Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, working to help design more environmentally friendly car brakes.

He plans to pursue a doctorate in engineering and move into the work force from there. “I want to build something like a pipe connecting a small community to a water source,” he says. “It doesn’t have to be revolutionary, it just has to be useful.” 

by Jackson Lewis
Joseph Bein: Portrait of enthusiasm

The chattering and applause from the audience in Kaeuper Hall comes to a sharp halt as Joseph Bein '12 makes his way to the piano. This performance is the culmination of his James Millikin Scholar project, a staged reading of Bein's musical adaptation of Oscar Wilde's novel, "The Picture of Dorian Gray." Bein plants himself on the bench and, after a brief introduction, plays the score without sheet music while simultaneously leading his 12 actors through the entire 90-minute performance.

The project has taken nearly two years of work and planning by the visually-impaired student. "By the time I was accepted as a JMS student, I knew I wanted to write this," Bein says. "I wanted to do it before then, but I didn't have an excuse to spend that much time and effort on something that wasn't for a grade."

Bein worked on the project with several of Millikin's faculty, most notably his advisers for the project, Dr. Stephen Frech, associate professor of English, and Kevin Long, artist-in-residence. "I would have these long philosophical discussions with Dr. Frech that really had very little to do with the play itself," Bein says, "but they would wind up sparking all of these great ideas."

"Joseph writes with a well-deserved confidence," Frech says. "He trusts his own skills to see very difficult, challenging projects to a close."

Frech was also impressed with the comprehensive manner in which Bein told the story. "His wide-reaching care accounts for the success of the final product," he says. "He did not write it to prop up one story. He was mutually invested in all of them."

Dr. Vincent Landro, former assistant professor of theatre and dance, was also a source of inspiration for Bein. "Vince Landro was a constant source of engagement for me with dramatic material. I credit him with my continued interest in dramatic plots and wanting to do theatre," Bein says.

Bein's interest in theatre was also demonstrated in fall 2010, when he wrote and directed a student production of Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Rappiccini's Daughter" for Pipe Dreams Studio Theatre. In addition to earning a bachelor's degree in theatre and English writing, Bein was involved with the music fraternity, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, serving multiple leadership positions for the fraternity, including as its vice president. He also played piano and saxophone for Gibson City Bible Church during his time as a student, which led to a position as a worship leader for the church after graduation.

"I let the pastor know if anything was needed I could help, so they asked me to lead New Year's Sunday," Bein says. "That went well, and I led the Sunday after that, and that went well, and it kind of went from there."

Bein and Megan Hanley '13 were married this June, and between his marriage, his church position and upcoming writing projects, Bein is ecstatic.

"After Megan graduates, I'll be looking for an MFA in playwriting or fiction writing," he says. "I can't decide between the two. In the meantime, I have plenty of space to feel creatively energized, so I have the opportunity to keep writing."

One audience member at the musical's performance, President Harold Jeffcoat, was exceptionally impressed by Bein's focus and creative energy.

"I have come to expect the unexpected from Millikin students," Jeffcoat says. "Joseph Bein and the cast were stunning. I came away from the performance with pride, saying to myself, 'These are Millikin students. Expect exceptional performance!'"

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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