"Dulf's leadership style is intersectional and diversity-focused. He consistently supports and develops events that celebrate cultural excellence on our campus."

- Cherisse Johnson, Assistant Director of the Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center

String Chamber Group

Music is not just a pastime for me; it's an intrinsic part of my identity. My journey with the violin began at the age of 7, and since then, I've been an active player and musician in various orchestras and string quartet ensembles, spanning from my early education to my current academic position at the University of Illinois. Beyond formal settings, I've taken the initiative to independently create chamber groups and string quartets, starting with my middle school string quintet, the "Bow-Ties." My present chamber group, consisting of talented individuals like Roshni (Violinist), Arted (Violist), and Emily (Violinist/Cellist), came together organically from our shared experiences in the University's String Orchestra, Illini Strings. We meet weekly, exploring a diverse repertoire ranging from baroque classics to contemporary pop, and I am grateful for the fellowship and musical inclement we have fostered together.

Roshni Matthew

Roshni Matthew, a distinguished computer engineering student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and an incoming Business Analyst Intern at McKinsey & Company excels as a Clare Boothe Research Scholar and Consultant at OTCR. Her expertise lies in developing machine learning models for wearable devices, specializing in stress and anxiety detection. Roshni's exceptional skills also extend to consulting, where she provides valuable pricing recommendations for med-tech startups and innovative recruitment strategies. In her role as a Software Engineer with Disruption Lab at Gies, she contributed to building a cryptocurrency based on natural resources, showcasing her proficiency in front-end and back-end development using languages like Solidity and JavaScript. Roshni's diverse talents and commitment to community service highlight her outstanding contributions both academically and beyond.

Arted Gjata

Arted Gjata is a student pursuing a Bachelor of Liberal Arts & Sciences in Integrative Biology Honors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, anticipating graduation in May 2026. With a perfect 4.000 GPA, Arted excels in laboratory techniques and computer skills, with proficiency in Excel, AutoCAD, and Microsoft Office. Fluent in Albanian and conversational in Spanish, Arted has tutoring experience at Kumon Learning Center, demonstrating adaptability and strong communication skills. Notable achievements include being a member of the Promethean Chapter of the National Honor Society, Illinois State Scholar, recipient of the Ed Posh Scholarship Fund, and recognized with the Seal of Biliteracy in English and Spanish. Currently, Arted is a LAS James Scholar, and a Dean's List awardee, and actively engages in extracurricular activities such as being a member of the American Chemical Society and REACT volunteering at the Glen Ellyn Public Library, and pursuing research at Illinois.

Emily Liu

Emily Liu, an exceptional computer engineering student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, has already made significant strides in the field. As an R&D Intern at Hollister Incorporated, she mastered computer vision, image analysis, Python, and OpenCV. In her role as a Network Infrastructure Intern, she designed Power BI dashboards and reports aligning with business objectives. At the Medical College of Wisconsin, her expertise in Python, Pandas, SciPy, and NumPy was pivotal in data analysis and visualization. Her research internships at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Illinois Institute of Technology showcased her skills in data retrieval and analysis and her contributions to developing an artificial pancreas. With proficiency in Python, Java, Microsoft Excel, engineering, leadership, and teamwork, Emily is a promising talent in computer engineering who is committed to her field.

Technology Entrepreneurship at Illinois

Since the establishment of the Community Development Department at Maine West High School, I have been deeply appreciative of the abundant praise and support received from those I collaborated with and assisted in the community. Gratitude extended from the residents of Des Plaines to officials in Washington D.C. Among the various labels ascribed to me, the term "entrepreneurial" stands out, acknowledging my ability to drive initiatives and garner support for passionate causes.

Upon entering the University of Illinois, I found myself embraced by a dynamic entrepreneurship ecosystem. Notably, PJ became an early connection through networking events like SocialFuse and eventually became a close acquaintance of mine. Dr. Keilin Janke played a pivotal role in shaping different facets of entrepreneurialism in my life, guiding me through her class and events like Cozad. Additionally, Will, with his own successful venture through iVenture, assumed an informal mentorship role, engaging in insightful exchanges that allowed both of us to draw upon our collective experiences and build each other up. In engaging with this community, I intend to discover and embrace a role—whether it be offering support to someone else's venture or pursuing a venture of my own.

William Lawson

William Lawson, a student pursuing a Master's in Library & Information Science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, is a Co-Founder and CEO of Resolv, a startup focused on recovering stolen crypto assets. Passionate about business and technology, particularly Cybersecurity and Blockchain, William has been building ventures from a young age.  As an Outreach Fellow at iVenture Accelerator, he showcased leadership and strategic outreach skills. William's recent achievements include winning prizes at the ETHChicago Conference and pitching Resolv to Tesla co-founder Martin Eberhard. With a CompTIA Security+ certification and diverse internship experiences, he is a dynamic presence in entrepreneurship and technology.

Dr. Keilin Jahnke

Keilin Jahnke is a Teaching Assistant Professor in Innovation, Leadership, and Engineering Entrepreneurship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. With a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Biological Engineering, she specializes in international engineering projects and their impact on rural communities. Keilin teaches courses on international engineering, innovation, creativity, and design thinking, guiding students to develop effective problem-solving strategies. Beyond academia, she co-founded Akelos, served as a Marketing Coordinator at Sun Buckets, and actively mentors students. Her impactful teaching has inspired students like Keval Morabia to embrace entrepreneurship and acquire valuable career skills.

Pierre James (PJ)

Pierre James (PJ) Beigh, Founder of and CMO at Top Tier Lessons, is a dynamic entrepreneur and active participant in the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign's entrepreneurship ecosystem. Specializing in lean startups, category design, ethics in business, and human-centered design, PJ has made impactful contributions. As Founder/CEO of, he organizes fundraiser concerts, while serving as CMO at Top Tier Lessons, connecting college athletes with parents for sports lessons. PJ's expertise spans strategic marketing management, UX research, negotiation, project management, community building, photography, leadership, graphic design, and event planning. His commitment to innovation and community growth is evident in his multifaceted entrepreneurial journey.

Volunteerism and Community Development

Volunteerism played a pivotal role in shaping my high school success, highlighting my abilities in community organization, leadership, and relationship-building during my tenure as the Community Development Liaison. Transitioning to the University of Illinois, I seamlessly extended this commitment by assuming roles such as Assistant Project Director at Volunteering Illini Projects (VIP) and a Fellow at the University's Office of Civic Life, earning my title as a Fred S. Bailey Scholar. In these positions, I collaborated closely with visionaries in various fields. Sonja Gurbani, my former VIP Project Director, remains a valued mentor, offering insightful exchanges on connections around Urbana-Champaign, community health, and their implications for volunteer organizations. Abigail (Abbie) and Yonglin, both friends and acquaintances, provided me with a comprehensive understanding of their administrative roles in volunteering and the public sector, shedding light on their impactful contributions to their respective fields.

Abigail Keasler

Abigail Keasler, a senior at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Speech & Hearing Science with a minor in Disability Studies. Her goal is to complete both a bachelor's and master's degree, utilizing her knowledge to work with individuals on the autism spectrum and those with developmental disabilities. Abigail actively engages in research as an Undergraduate Research Assistant at the Intellectual Disabilities Communication Lab and has interned at The Autism Program. Her experiences include roles as an Inclusion Assistant, Study Abroad Participant in Cape Town, and a Retail Sales Associate at Kohl's. Abigail is involved in volunteer work at Carle Auditory Oral School and has received honors and awards for leadership and service, including the Ronald and Denise Prince Scholarship and Fred S. Bailey Scholar 2023-2024. She is a member of Alpha Xi Delta and holds certifications in the Integrity i-Program and HIPAA Training. Abigail looks forward to contributing to her field and making a positive impact on the community.

Sonja Gurbani

Sonja Gurbani is a Rehabilitation Technician at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, having graduated with a dual degree in bioengineering and chemistry from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. With a strong background in research since high school, Sonja has been actively involved in various roles, including serving as a General Chemistry I TA and participating in proteomics research. She brings a wealth of experience, including leadership roles in organizations like PHI DELTA EPSILON MEDICAL FRATERNITY and Volunteer Illini Projects, Inc. Sonja's dedication extends to volunteering at Carle Health, where she has been a student volunteer for four years. Her skills span research, engineering, and more, with notable publications in her name.

Yonglin Zheng

Yonglin Zheng is a Full-Time Analyst at J.P. Morgan, holding a degree in Finance from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Based in Champaign, Illinois, with hundreds of professional connections, she has a robust formal network. Her academic journey included a role as an Academic Tutor at the Office of Minority Student Affairs, where she boosted exam scores for college freshmen. As a Client Account Management Intern at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, she interpreted client agreements and created an intricate Excel tracker system. Beyond her professional roles, Yonglin is associated with Volunteer Illini Projects and Alpha Delta Pi, serving as Treasurer and Director of Academic Affairs. Proficient in Microsoft Excel and product presentation, and fluent in Mandarin, Yonglin brings a diverse skill set to her professional pursuits.


I am deeply grateful to the Leadership Center at the University of Illinois, which has not only enriched my existing leadership skills and traits but has also facilitated the creation of a vast network of leaders from diverse backgrounds. This network spans from current students at the University to alumni in high-level positions. I want to express my special gratitude to individuals like Cameron, Jada, and Eliana. They have gone beyond the surface to understand the essence of who I am in the world. Our occasional meetups and spontaneous gatherings have provided invaluable insights into leadership and camaraderie within our respective fields of health, engineering, and social causes.

My experience with the Leadership Certification Program at the University of Illinois, which I began as a freshman, included impactful opportunities like the Donaldson Leadership Retreat and LeaderShape. This program enhanced my leadership philosophy, emphasizing internal reflection, empathy, and earned authority. Encouraged by coordinator Cecilia Vaughn-Guy, I drew on my prior community development and government initiatives. Completing the program deepened my connection to the university community and provided invaluable resources for my ongoing leadership journey.

Cameron Fuller

Cameron Fuller, a graduating electrical engineering student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is deeply committed to his academic journey. His passion extends to attending classes, dedicated study sessions, and hands-on practice. Cameron is actively involved in WaggleNet, a research-focused extracurricular. Balancing his academic pursuits, he invests time in a summer internship at Haken Audio. Outside the academic realm, Cameron values social connections, enjoying moments with friends, and partaking in social events, adding a vibrant dimension to his well-rounded college experience.

Eliana Eng

Eliana Eng, an Integrative Biology Honors student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is dedicated to her academic pursuits and is actively involved in various extracurricular activities. Hailing from South Elgin, Illinois, Eliana has a well-established network of leaders, visionaries, and professionals in their respective fields. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, with engagement in notable student organizations such as the Pre-Genetic Counseling Club and Data Science DISCOVERY. As a forward-thinking and collaborative individual, Eliana is positioned to make significant contributions to her field.

Jada Allen

Jada Allen, a senior majoring in Psychology with a minor in Criminology, Law, and Society at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, serves as the On-site Coordinator for the LeaderShape Institute. Originally from Chicago, IL, Jada holds a noteworthy position serving in the military. With an extensive background in psychology and criminology, Jada has excelled in her academic pursuits, earning a Bachelor's degree in Clinical Psychology. Currently working as an I-Star at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, she continues to contribute to her community and shares her experiences and achievements through her active engagement on professional platforms.

Bridges International

Faith and spirituality play a profound role in shaping my life and influencing my approach to living. As a believer and Baptist, the journey of self-discovery has been intrinsic, allowing me to genuinely embrace it by choice rather than imposition. While I was familiar with the technical aspects of Christian living from my upbringing, it's in recent times that I've delved into the existential significance of my faith, especially in times when it was my sole source of hope, peace, and love. This transition from inherited beliefs to a personally chosen path has been a self-directed exploration, defining my identity in a more profound and meaningful way.

Beyond my connections with four Baptist churches, I'm grateful for individuals like Ana Schrader and Mike Li. Through the Bridges program, they exemplify the commitment to creating a welcoming space for international students and embody God's love. While Savannah and I initially connected through leadership programs, our shared love for Christ and capacity for theological thought leadership brought us closer. I am eternally thankful to God for providing yet another avenue for me to deepen my faith.

Savanah Pagan

Savannah Moon Pagan, an Electrical Engineering student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is known for her innovative ideas and diverse experiences. As an Engineering Intern at SpaceX, she focused on Supply Chain Reliability for Avionics, implementing wire harness programs, and conducting quality investigations. In her role as a Product Management Intern at Surfline\Wavetrak, Inc., Savannah contributed to e-commerce site development. She also participated in Meta's Career Insights Program, worked on Meta Sprout, and developed VR applications at the University of Illinois. Passionate about disaster relief, she researched resilience in Puerto Rico. Savannah excels in supply chain optimization, product management, and research, showcasing her commitment to technology and education.

Ana Schrader

Ana (Arias) Schrader is a Bridges Staff member with Cru, currently residing in Savoy, Illinois, United States. With 30 years and 11 months of experience at Cru, she has been dedicated to her role as a Bridges administrator and coordinator since 1993. Ana is also associated with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, dedicated to creating a supportive environment for international students. Her focus is on fostering a sense of belonging and community, providing a safe space for students to embrace and share in God's love. Through her extensive tenure, Ana remains actively engaged in humanitarian efforts, recently addressing the devastating floods in Houston and mobilizing support from Bridges International to aid affected international students.

Mike Li

Mike Li, a valued member of the Bridges Staff, calls Champaign County home and maintains a close association with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Within this vibrant community, Mike not only fulfills his role within Bridges but also actively engages in fellowship with other members and connects with the diverse international population. Beyond his professional commitments, Mike's passions extend to fostering connections through Bridges, maintaining a healthy lifestyle at the gym, savoring culinary experiences, cherishing friendships, and exploring his spiritual journey with a strong connection to God.

Division of General Studies

Upon entering the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as an undeclared student, my diverse high school interests in business, law, technology, and more left me uncertain about my academic path. Rather than letting the lack of a major slow down my progress, I prioritized refining my skills and remained open to any passion that captivated my mind. Leveraging my networking and collaboration abilities, I forged robust connections within and beyond the university. In my first year, I secured a part-time paid internship, a full-time paid internship, external scholarships, a research assistant role, acceptance into a study abroad program, and a rich professional network, all while gaining a clearer sense of self.

This transformative phase in my college journey wouldn't have been possible without the unwavering support and guidance of Nashea, Dustin, and Calen, exceptional counselors at the Division of General Studies. Their encouragement, valuable connections, and resources played a pivotal role in my success. From venting sessions to advising appointments covering career guidance, study abroad applications, summer school, guest speaking opportunities, and more, I'm profoundly grateful for their patience and unwavering belief in my potential.

Nashea Williams

Nashea Williams, EEP Academic Advisor, boasts a Master's in Agricultural Education from the University of Illinois and a Bachelor's in Plant and Soil Sciences from North Carolina State University. Her role's highlight is witnessing students discover a major aligned with their passions. Beyond academia, Nashea finds joy in outdoor activities, indulges in baking and game shows, maintains an interest in nail care, enjoys podcasts, and loves traveling to beach destinations. Cherishing time with loved ones, she brings a diverse range of interests to her life outside of advising, contributing to a well-rounded perspective in her interactions with students.

Dustin Shattuck

Dustin Shattuck, Academic Advisor, boasts a rich academic background, holding an MFA in Creative Writing and an MA in English Literature from McNeese State University, along with a BA in Creative Writing/Rhetoric and History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His role involves empowering students, guiding them to take charge of their education, and fostering meaningful connections in their lives and communities. Beyond academics, Dustin is an avid birding enthusiast, who enjoys cooking and exploring new recipes, gardening, hiking, reading, teaching, indulging in old movies, and crafting compelling short stories, showcasing a diverse range of interests.

Calen Gutwein

Calen Gutwein, a Senior Academic Advisor & Coordinator at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, holds a Master of Arts in the Teaching of English as a Second Language and a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies. With over seven years of experience, she provides developmental academic advising services and supports the educational and career development of undergraduate students. Calen is passionate about journeying with students as they find meaning and purpose in their lives. Her interests include food tours, nature walks, movie marathons, singing along with musicals, and storytelling. In addition to her role as an advisor, Calen is actively involved in volunteer work, including supporting ESL programs in prisons.

Illinois Scholars Program

The Illinois Scholars Program offered me my initial glimpse into college life at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). I have to admit that I hadn't extensively researched the UIUC campus or its resources before receiving the acceptance. I was genuinely surprised that, despite my limited knowledge about life at Illinois, the program directors recognized my merits and graciously extended an invitation for me to join the 2022 cohort — the first in-person group since the COVID lockdown.

Reflecting on the program and my initial interactions, I have a lot of respect and gratitude to give to Asia, Cecilia, and Theresa. Each of them challenged me to undertake diverse challenges and encouraged critical thinking about how I approach my personal, extracurricular, and academic ambitions. Whether it was the engaging Real Talk sessions with Asia, Cecilia inspiring me to elevate my leadership skills by applying for the certification program, or Theresa, my very first university professor, providing valuable insights into the array of academic paths and university life at UIUC, I owe them my thanks for making my first encounters with UIUC both seamless and invigorating.

Theresa Dobbs

Theresa Dobbs, a University of Illinois graduate, brings six years of high school math teaching experience in Milwaukee Public Schools to her current role as an Instructor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her passion for teaching at the college level is evident, and she is dedicated to preparing preservice teachers and rehumanizing mathematics, including documenting the experiences of recent immigrant students in U.S. math classes. Theresa credits her solid teaching foundation to the Noyce program and actively contributes to inclusive education as the Communications Chair for the Non-Tenure Faculty Coalition. She has earned prestigious accolades, such as the Edyth May Sliffe Award for Distinguished Mathematics Teaching and the Early Career Educator Award, and consistently receives recognition as a teacher ranked as excellent by students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Cecilia Vaughn-Guy

Cecilia Vaughn-Guy, a fourth-year Ph.D. student specializing in Education Policy, Organization & Leadership with dual concentrations in Human Resource Development and Diversity and Equity in Education, currently serves as a 2023 Women's Congressional Policy Institute Fellow on Capitol Hill. Prior to her doctoral studies, Cecilia accrued valuable experience as an occupational therapist in diverse clinical, hospital-based, and academic settings. Her research focuses on amplifying the voices of frontline healthcare workers, reimagining equitable organizational structures, culturally responsive evaluation, and fostering organizational change through culture. Additionally, she played a pivotal role in encouraging my enrollment in the Leadership Certification Program during the Illinois Scholars Program.

Asia-Patrice Zanders

Asia-Patrice Zanders is a student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, majoring in Architectural Design, and a recipient of the Willard Broom Leadership Scholarship. She is actively involved in The KatWalk Modeling Agency, holding roles such as President and Event Director. Additionally, Asia-Patrice serves as a Resident Advisor for The Illinois Scholar Program, contributing to the program since 2019. She is known for her involvement in fundraising coordination for Alpha Rho Chi and has acquired a diverse set of skills in architectural design, Adobe software, and conflict resolution. She is proficient in English and Sign Languages and is dedicated to emphasizing her commitment to mentoring and coaching, showcasing leadership in both campus organizations and scholarship initiatives.

Musical and Cultural Ventures

I come from a deeply musical background, having received training in piano, violin, and vocals since the tender age of three. My journey in music has led me to perform in diverse settings, including churches, weddings, restaurants, and bars, and engaging in spirited karaoke sessions. However, with the onset of college, my focus shifted towards my career and STEM-based passions. I'm thankful for encountering individuals like Ava, who has provided an avenue for exploring songwriting and accompaniment playing, Walter, who offered opportunities to showcase my singing at open mics and karaoke sessions hosted by the African American Culture Center, and Robert Baird, who generously shared resources and advice on navigating the vibrant musical community in Urbana-Champaign.

Ava Marginean

Ava Marginean, a student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, is an Undergraduate Research Assistant at Gies College of Business. Engaging in roles from assisting with waste solutions at MEIKO GREEN to contributing as a Team Assistant at the National Student Leadership Conference, Ava brings diverse experiences to her journey. Passionate about soccer, she discusses its global connections through podcasts, and also is an acclaimed author, having written several novels. Ava is currently pursuing a degree in Political Science and Government, combining her academic pursuits with real-world impact.

Walter Flatt

Walter Flatt, a student studying Finance & Business Administration at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, is a versatile individual with expertise in accounting, finance, and business development. Currently interning at the Bruce D Nesbitt African American Cultural Center, Walter manages the radio station, organizes events, and serves as a liaison for collaborations. With a rich background as a Content Creator on YouTube, Site Director at Camp of Champions USA, and experience in roles like Camp Counselor and Patient Service Representative, Walter brings a wealth of skills in video production, team management, and project management. Walter is bound to thrive in opportunities showcasing proficiency in accounting, public speaking, logo design, video editing, and more.

Robert Baird

Robert, the Senior Associate Director at the University of Illinois Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning, boasts an illustrious career spanning over 19 years in academia. With a Ph.D. in English/Cinema Studies, he's contributed significantly as an Assistant Professor and Associate Director. Recognized for leadership, Robert holds certifications in "Recognizing the Troubled Work Group" and the "IT Leaders Program." His extensive skills include Instructional Technology and E-Learning, endorsed by colleagues. As a prolific author, Robert's publications delve into film and cross-cultural cognition, showcasing his intellectual depth.