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Spring 2024 ISACorps Alumni E-Newsletter

Be Informed. Food for Thought. Resources.

In this Issue

  • ISACorps Alumni Recognition
  • News & Announcements
  • What We Are Reading and Listening To…
  • Upcoming Webinars

Welcome to the ISACorps Alumni quarterly e-newsletter! Visit the ISACorps Alumni webpage to access the newsletter, join the ISACorps Alumni directory, and read more about ISACorps alumni updates and announcements.

ISACorps Alumni Recognition

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Anna Ma (2009):

The ISACorps helped catapult Ana into the world of educational counseling, arming her with skills and knowledge that she still uses in her everyday work. After her time with ISAC, Ana earned a Master’s degree in School Counseling and worked to increase financial aid literacy programming at her school, Naperville School District 203. She will be starting a first generation mentoring program soon. On a personal note, Ana is a first-time mom to a mischief-making 1-year-old son who keeps her on her toes and fuels her passion for connecting youth to life-changing opportunities. (Shout out to the 2009 Cohort, WOOT WOOT!)

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Kevin (2011) and Christine (2012) McKenzie: In 2019, Kevin and Christine founded Built-Right Digital with another business partner. Built-Right Digital is a technology company in the home improvement industry. “Our company was just purchased by a venture capital firm in late 2023,” said Kevin. Both Kevin and Christine are excited for their next adventure. 

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Marvelas Hare (2012):

After his time in the Corps, Marvelas has had the opportunity to serve hundreds of families on the West Side and South Side of Chicago. After leaving the Corps, Marvelas has been working in college counseling for the last eight years. He was able to assist with the entire college-going process, including the FAP process, scholarships, personal statements and essays, college tours and visits, the selection process, and more. Currently, Marvelas works at LEARN Charter School as a High School Placement Counselor. He is eternally grateful for these opportunities and the relationships he has been able to build! 

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Guadalupe Alvarez (2020):

Since her ISAC days, Guadalupe graduated with her M.Ed. in Urban Higher Education, and is now studying to become a teacher while serving as a substitute teacher for Chicago Public Schools.

Alums in Leadership Awards, Appointments, & More: Beyond the Workplace in Higher Education

We are pleased to welcome the ISACorps Alumni Steering Committee’s first cohort for period 2024-2025!

The purpose of the committee is to serve as a liaison between current ISACorps members and the ISACorps Alumni Network at events and through other meaningful communications.

Serving on the steering committee places these alums at the center of our present and future ISACorps alumni efforts, enabling their work to directly shape contributions to their organizations and the broader community. Thank you to our committee, who bring a wealth of knowledge from the education sector.

  • James Patrick Yost, Ed.D. (2014) Residential Education and Training Manager at Children’s Home Association of Illinois
  • Jamese Carrell (2011), Relationship Manager at the United Negro College Fund
  • Monica Masini (2019), School Counselor at Notre Dame College Prep
  • Danielle Long (2014), Financial Aid Trainer at DePaul University
  • Ciera Field, M.Ed. (2012), Associate Director of Admission – Tuition Assistance at Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School
  • Alexander Skarr (2017), Senior Associate Consultant at Financial Aid Services, LLC.
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James Patrick Yost, Ed.D. (2014), Jamese Carrell (2011), Monica Masini (2019), Danielle Long (2014), Ciera Field, M.Ed. (2012), and Alexander Skarr (2017).

Share your awards and leadership roles with us here!

News & Announcements

We are hiring ISACorps members!

ISAC is seeking candidates for our ISACorps Community Outreach Worker positions in multiple locations throughout the state. If you know any recent college graduates interested in a public service position focused on helping the next generation on their path to higher education, please share this link: Also, if the applicant is referred by an alum, the alum will receive a FREE ISACorps branded Hydro Flask!

ISACorps Externship Opportunity

Looking to fill a role in your organization in the future? Interested in mentoring? Then consider hosting an ISACorps extern this spring! Get the passion and skills of an ISACorps while offering a Corps member the opportunity to both learn about working in your organization and gain some additional professional experience. Help develop the future workforce in your community through the ISACorps Externship Program.

ISAC is working to offer our ISACorps members a short-term job shadow experience through this externship program. The length of time and dates can be negotiated between the extern and the host, preferably 2-5 days in total. The days do not need to be consecutive – for example, it might be once per week for a month.

We have five current ISACorps members, based in different areas of the state, who are excited about finding an externship/job shadow experience this spring. Below are their locations and some of their interests.

  • We have a Corps member based in the Champaign-Urbana area who is interested in advising, program management or policy analyst work in nonprofits, government agencies (such as ISBE or IBHE), or higher education.
  • A Corps member in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago is interested in higher education or college access work related to enrollment, outreach, financial aid, or advising.
  • Another Corps member based in the Southeast Side of Chicago is exploring careers in higher education (perhaps academic advising), or school social work in a healthcare setting.
  • One of our Corps members based in the Lake County area is contemplating a career in language interpretation or paralegal work in foreign/international relations, at an embassy, a law firm, or in a corporate setting.
  • A Corps member based in the Champaign-Urbana area is interested in working in a government or higher education setting related to archives, records management, and librarianship.

If you have any opportunities for job shadowing that match these locations and interests and would be interested in hosting an ISACorps extern, we’d love to hear from you! Just complete this form to get started. If this isn’t something you can offer at this time, we’d appreciate it if you could share this information with other colleagues, friends, and your professional network. Feel free to contact Renee Martinez at ISAC with any questions.

ISACorps Alumni Career Panel Discussions

During the months of January and February, we hosted two alumni conversations on WebEx. Nine alums spoke to the Corps about their experiences on various topics. February’s conversation was recorded, so be sure to click the link below and check it out!

ISACorps Alumni Front and Center at the ILASFAA Conference

The ILASFAA Conference was held on March 4 to 6 in Bloomington, IL. This year’s theme was "Back to the Future: Pre-Pandemic vs Post-Pandemic.” Financial aid professionals and administrators gathered to discuss and reflect on the financial aid changes in the industry. It was wonderful seeing several of our alums present as well.

Melissa Van (2020) and her colleague Ashley Lewis from the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) presented on “Illinois Policy Initiatives to Address College Student Homelessness and Basic Needs Insecurity.”

Melissa said, "I am grateful for the opportunities to share my current higher education policy implementation work at IBHE with financial aid administrators across the state. There was definitely a full circle moment back to my ISACorps days."

Karina Diaz (2012) and her colleague Lauren Martin from DePaul University presented, “It’s a Two-Way Street: Finding Motivation in a New Era of Work.”

ISAC First Gen Symposium

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We recently hosted our inaugural First Gen Symposium at North Central College on March 11. Thank you to North Central College for their partnership! The symposium provided an opportunity for attendees to learn and share best practices for supporting first generation students in postsecondary planning. It was great seeing several of our alums there as well. Click here to review the presentations from the symposium. A big thank you to Cody Dailey (2012), Thomas Semanic (2019), Dada Ibrahimovic (2019), and Beth Groves (2020) who talked about how various supports helped them navigate the college-going process and what they are doing now to support first gen students. 

ISAC PaCE Symposium

Register for ISAC’s third annual Postsecondary and Career Expectations (PaCE) Symposium offered at two locations from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. (CT).

  • April 16, 2024, at the I Hotel and Illinois Conference Center in Champaign, IL.
  • May 8, 2024, at Elgin Community College in Elgin, IL.

The PaCE Symposium brings together people from across Illinois to share and learn how schools, districts, and communities are collaborating and advancing postsecondary and career readiness efforts using the Illinois PaCE Framework, which is comprised of a High School PaCE Framework and Middle School PaCE Framework.

Registration is $25 but it is FREE for alums with the promo code "Alumni2024". Please note: you must have completed at least one full year of service in the Corps to attend for free using the promo code.

2024 CCE Conference

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The annual College Changes Everything® (CCE) conference is taking place on July 18, 2024, at the Tinley Park Convention Center. This year’s conference theme explores the role community health plays in advancing educational equity for Illinois students and families.

The conference Call for Proposals is open. Click here to access the session proposal form. For more details on submitting a proposal (due April 15) and the conference, please visit the conference website.

Family Action Network (FAN) Events

ISAC is pleased to continue sponsorship of selected Family Action Network (FAN) events. FAN’s accessible and dynamic events create common ground and provide the latest insights on education, psychology, social change, relationships, and well-being. Family Action Network (FAN) is a non-profit organization that curates a high-quality speaker series. All FAN programs are free and open to the public. You can visit FAN’s website to view upcoming and past events at Feel free to share this information with your colleagues and network.

Job Opportunities!

Looking for a new job? Check out these positions! ISACorps Alumni Job Postings List.xlsx

Are you looking to change careers or looking for career coaching? Need assistance with your resume or cover letter? Contact to set up an appointment.

If you know of any job opportunities in your area and would like to share them with your fellow ISACorps alumni or current ISACorps members, please email

What We Are Reading and Listening To…

Upcoming ISAC PD In-Person and Virtual Trainings

To assist you in helping your students and families with the college-going and financial aid process, ISAC offers free trainings to school counselors, college and career staff, college admission counselors, and other education professionals. Professional Development (PD) hours and Continuing Education (CE) credits will be available for attendees at the rate of one unit per contact hour. For more information and registration details, visit ISAC's Financial Aid Trainings page.

Other Webinars and Workshops

Don't forget to join the alumni directory to update your contact information to receive recent job postings, our quarterly e-newsletter, the latest PD opportunities, alumni event invitations, and more. Want a new alum t-shirt? Fill out this form! If you have already received a t-shirt, you may disregard.


Lastly, subscribe to our e-Messaging listserv to receive information about the latest ISAC-related programs and services, and ISAC-hosted events and symposiums.

If you have any questions regarding this e-Message, please contact Alumni Relations by sending an e-mail message to

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