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MADE IN ILLINOIS: Kierra Frazier ‘a reporter’s reporter’


Kierra Frazier, a third-year student at Northern Illinois University, works in the office of The Northern Star on the DeKalb campus. Frazier is a news editor at the student publication. (Christopher Heimerman/for the Illinois Press Association)

NIU student newspaper news editor delivers with a resting heart rate

For Illinois Press Association

DeKALB – When stories are creating a stir on campus, as adviser of Northern Illinois University’s student newspaper, The Northern Star, Shelley Hendricks makes a point of checking in on her reporters.

When situations have created racial unrest, she’s spoken with one of her two Black student employees, Kierra Frazier, 21, to make sure she’s holding up emotionally.

HEndricks“When we get a big one going that’s generating a lot of talk on campus, I’ll say, ‘How are you doing?’ ” Hendricks said. “I remember her response more than the setup. She’ll be like, ‘I’m fine. Why are you asking?’ That is such a mature reporter reaction. She’s just a reporter’s reporter.”

As quiet, focused and matter-of-fact as Frazier comes across, the third-year student makes noise every chance she gets to recruit more Black talent to The Northern Star.

“It’s also really hard to do, especially in a pandemic,” Frazier said. 

Frazier, who will graduate in December, changed majors from English to journalism just one week into her freshman year at NIU. She joined the National Association for Black Journalists, and the chapter took a tour of The Northern Star, where she quickly landed a job as a reporter.

“The comment I’d heard from a lot of Black students on campus was that there weren’t a lot of Black students at The Northern Star,” Frazier said. “While I’m still here, I want to make sure it’s a welcoming place for students of color.”

Hendricks said since 2012, half of her editors-in-chief have been Latinx, but she’s constantly trying to figure out how to recruit Black students so the staff’s diversity reflects that of the student body.

Each year, she invites the NABJ chapter for a tour, “with the hope some cross-pollination will happen. That’s how we got Kierra. She was just the new freshman walking through.”

The Northern Star transitioned permanently from a twice-weekly print publication to online- only – which was already in the plans but expedited by COVID-19. Where the pandemic has truly wreaked havoc is with recruiting opportunities.

“We’re at a low for staffing with all identities,” Hendricks said. “But we’re the whitest we’ve been since 2012. I used to brag about our diversity, with the asterisk that we always need more Black students. Our biggest struggle has been with our Black community on campus, and we need to totally rebuild that.”

The NABJ was the first student organization Frazier joined, and every opportunity she gets, she urges her classmates to join that group, as well as The Northern Star. She said there are many barriers standing between people of color and the historically white male-dominated newspaper industry.

“There’s also a lot of time dedication to The Northern Star,” Frazier said. “Typically, students of color come from under-resourced backgrounds, so they can’t dedicate the time or resources.”

Frazier is very deliberate about setting an example in her reporting. She admits it’s a challenge to remain objective when covering racially sensitive events such as Black Lives Matter protests.

But she stays in her lanIMG_1563(1)e as a journalist, her hand on the horn ready to blare it when someone commits a foul.

“I know a lot of journalists have had arguments on the terminology,” she said. “For me, it’s about making sure we’re paying attention to the way we word things in these stories and making sure we’re spelling people’s names right, and capitalizing the ‘B’ in black.”

Frazier takes cues from such hyperlocal publications as Block Club Chicago, and she’s a regular reader of The Sun-Times, naturally, and her local paper, the Daily Chronicle.

The pandemic laid waste to two golden opportunities for Frazier: an all-expenses-paid New York Times Student Journalism Institute in late May for which she’d been accepted, and an internship with Newsday in Long Island over summer of 2020.

She’s grateful for an internship with the local NPR affiliate, WNIJ-WNIU, during her freshman year and a stint at The Sun-Times, where she got to profile Aldis Hodge, an actor famous for his role in “Straight Outta Compton.”

“I’m not really good at entertainment stories, so I’m not sure the story was all that good,” she said, laughing “But it was fun interviewing him.”

She also writes for the national outlet Wired Media, and said among her favorite pieces was on Gen-Zers leading up to the election.

Frazier and Hendricks agreed there’s a danger in promoting talented reporters out of their strength.

“I like editing, but I don’t really enjoy managing all the other reporters, along with my job, my classes and everything,” Frazier said. “My favorite thing about journalism is interviewing and talking to people, and writing.”

While she might not envision herself as an entertainment writer, she’s open to virtually any beat – as long as it’s in an urban setting, after she was born in Georgia and lived in Ohio and rural Milwaukee before moving to DeKalb.

“I’d prefer more of a city atmosphere,” she said, laughing. “I grew up around cornfields most of my life.”

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Press Releases


Americans have been preparing
for the impact of a pandemic for over 75 years!

From home economics to the modern family and consumer sciences classes, the foundation of basic life skills helped bring families through 2020 and beyond.  

Feb. 9, 2021
CONTACT: Marissa Kunerth, communications & public relations manager
Family, Career and Community Leaders of America


RESTON, VA For many, it has taken a global pandemic to motivate them to refine and reuse many basic life skills. With restaurants closed and stay-at-home mandates in place, a growing number of adults have turned to online tutorials, social media recipes, and family and friends to learn basic life skills. Admittedly, more than a fourth of Americans admit they cannot cook and claim this skill is something they now realize is an essential skill that should be taught in every school in the United States.

75 years ago, when Future Homemakers of America (FHA), presently known as Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), was founded, no one thought the skills gained through Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) classes would get families through a pandemic. The country was digging out of the Great Depression and using skills taught at home and in Home Economics to rebuild the economy of our country. In education, Home Economics transitioned to Family and Consumer Sciences in 1994 and some felt these classes were no longer essential. Since 2012, there has been an estimated 40% decline in FCS classes, but the coronavirus pandemic has led to an outcry to bring “Home Ec” back and reinforced how important basic life skills are to not only be successful at home but holistically as humans impacting careers and communities.

Since its inception in 1945, FCCLA has promoted the need for FCS education for every student in every state in every school. FCCLA knows the importance of FCS education, which provides students with lifelong skills such as nutrition, menu planning, food preparation, clothing care and construction, money management, child development, and workforce readiness. Many students move from learning basic skills in an apron to preparing hopefully to someday wear a chef’s coat.

Illinois State Adviser Marta Lockwood shares, “The Illinois Association of FCCLA is proud to be a part of the long-standing legacy of helping students become great leaders. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing young people making a difference in their personal lives, their homes, schools, and communities!”

Through FCS education, FCCLA provides opportunities for members to develop 21st century skills that enhance students’ understanding of community, work, family, and their interpersonal relationships. This year, FCCLA celebrates its 75th anniversary by commemorating all 50 state associations who have contributed to student’s success through character development, creative and critical thinking, interpersonal communication, practical knowledge, and career preparation.

Since chartering with the national organization in January 1946, thousands upon thousands of Illinois students have taken advantage of this incredible organization and all it has to offer. As a youth led organization, Illinois FCCLA has teams of student officers who serve at every level of the organization from the local high schools to the state and national levels. These youth leaders plan and assist with all the community service projects, leadership training, and conferences that are held. Illinois State Adviser Marta Lockwood adds “one of the greatest things about FCCLA is that it has so many different programs and opportunities for the students to find success in. From community service projects to competitive events, FCCLA gives students the opportunity to combine their education and leadership skills to make a difference and receive recognition for their accomplishments”.

FCCLA’s 75thanniversary is a major milestone for the organization and FCS education. Whether one is looking to feel confident in the kitchen, make a difference in their community, or prepare for career success, FCCLA and FCS is the secret ingredient to succeed in the home and workplace.

Research Sources:

Tufts University: https://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/general-nutrition/28-of-americans-cant-cook

WZDX Fox: https://www.rocketcitynow.com/article/news/what-ever-happened-to-home-ec-millennials-struggling-with-home-and-nutrition-skills/525-7f8fd87d-2134-408f-909b-4687ba46b496


Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) is a dynamic and effective national student organization that helps young men and women become leaders and address important personal, family, work, and societal issues through Family and Consumer Sciences education. FCCLA has more than182,000 members and 5,253 chapters from 48 state associations, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.


Illinois Principals Association to host first virtual Education Leaders Conference in February  

Feb. 1, 2021
CONTACT: Dr. Jason Leahy, executive director
Illinois Principals Association


SPRINGFIELD – In a first for the Illinois Principals Association, we are hosting our Annual Education Leaders Conference virtually. The 49th annual Education Leaders Conference and Exhibition, “L.E.A.D.” Conference (Learning – Equity – Advocacy – Diversity) will take place online February 22-23, 2021. The annual conference provides an opportunity for principals and other administrators to learn from leaders in the education field and participate in sessions to better serve their schools. 
“School leaders have been there to support teachers, guide parents, and serve our students through the multitude of challenges this school year,” said Dr. Amy Dixon, IPA President. “With the aid of the Illinois Principals Association, principals have not only overcome the challenges, but shown tremendous personal growth and flexibility.  Now it is time for school leaders to take time to recharge and renew their purpose, passion, and leadership. The IPA Education Leaders Conference is the premiere event of the year that will allow them to do that and so much more!”
The conference will include presentations from keynote speakers Adam Welcome, Illinois State Superintendent Dr. Carmen Ayala, and Beth Houf.  Monday’s first general session will feature Adam Welcome, a Principal and Director of Innovation for a large school district in the Bay Area of California, and his presentation “Kids Deserve It!” Mr. Welcome has been honored as Principal of the Year for his region, a “20 to Watch” for the National School Board Association, guest blogger for EdWeek, NAESP magazine, and other publications. His presentation is a simple, yet profound message to become more engaged with your school community.
Speakers at the second general session on Monday afternoon include Dr. Carmen Ayala, Illinois State Superintendent of Schools, and Dr. Amy Dixon, principal of Jefferson and Lincoln Elementary Schools in Carmi, IL and IPA President. IPA Principal of the Year awards, the Reaching Out & Building Bridges Award, and the Mr. John Ourth & Dr. Fred W. Singleton Professional Development Scholarships will also be presented at this session.
Beth Houf will begin the conference Tuesday morning with her presentation “The Power of Appreciation,” including strategies to build rapport with students, staff, and parents. Beth Houf is the proud principal of Fulton Middle School in central Missouri.  She is the Co-Author of “Lead Like a PIRATE:  Make School Amazing for Your Students and Staff.”  Beth also serves as a facilitator for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Leadership Academy, providing monthly training to state educational leaders.  She has spoken at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference, the Association for Middle-Level Education National Conference, the National Principals Conference, and many other state and local educational venues. 
The conference will include popular IGNITE sessions, presented by IPA Principal of the Year Award Winners and leaders including Mandy Ellis (Principal, Dunlap Grade School), Dan Kaiser (Retired Principal, Dwight Township High School), Hattie Llewellyn (Principal, New Berlin High School), Dr. Tron Young (Principal, Joseph Arthur Middle School), Dr. Marcus Belin (Principal, Huntley High School), and Abir Othman (Associate Principal, Victor J. Andrew High School). These innovative, fast-paced sessions provide a unique way to hear from dynamic speakers who will inspire fellow leaders.
Small group sessions at the conference include timely topics such as: Race Relations in Schools; Practical Steps for Transforming School Culture; Trauma Informed Care; Leading through the Lens of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; Attendance, Chronic Absence, and Equity; Building Leadership Teams; and legislative and legal updates. Conference attendees can also explore the online exhibit hall for the latest in educational products and services, and resource materials from sponsors such as AMBA (Association Member Benefits Advisors), ECRA Group, Good for Schools, Horace Mann, Illinois Principals Foundation, Lifetouch School Portraits and Southern Illinois University Carbondale. For more information about the Education Leaders Conference, please visit ipafc20.zerista.com. For more information about IPA, please visit www.ilprincipals.org.

The Illinois Principals Association is a leadership organization which serves over 5,800 educational leaders throughout the state of Illinois and whose mission is to develop, support, and advocate for innovative educational leaders.






Ten $1,000 Scholarships Now Available for Midwest High School Seniors  

High school seniors from states that surround Iowa have a chance to earn one of 10 $1,000 college scholarships

Jan. 13, 2021
CONTACT: Christopher Weishaar
Digital Public Relations Specialist
Iowa Student Loan

(515) 273-7140

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA (Jan. 13, 2021) — High school seniors from Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin now have a chance to receive one of 10 college scholarships worth $1,000. Registration is open now through April 30, 2021.

High school seniors may register for the ISL Midwest Senior Scholarship at www.IowaStudentLoan.org/Midwest. Iowa Student Loan® will award $1,000 scholarships to 10 students whose names are randomly drawn after the registration period. Registered students also receive emails highlighting financial literacy tips, such as the importance of early career and college planning and ways to reduce student loan indebtedness.

“We know 2020 has been a tough year on students and families mentally and financially. We want high school seniors to have the tools and resources they need to plan and pay for college,” said Steve McCullough, president and CEO of Iowa Student Loan. “The information students receive during the program can help them make better decisions as they consider college finances, student loans and their future financial situations. We hope families also take this opportunity to explore all the free resources available on our website.”

The ISL Midwest Senior Scholarship is open to legal U.S. citizens who are seniors at a high school in one of the qualifying states during the 2020–2021 school year and who intend to attend college, either virtually or physically, in fall 2021. It is a no-purchase-required program, and full rules and details are available at www.IowaStudentLoan.org/Midwest.

Additional Resources Available 

Iowa Student Loan also has additional resources for families planning for college and for students who intend to pursue advanced degrees. The Parent Handbook consists of valuable tips to help families of students in sixth through 12th grades prepare for success in college and other postsecondary options. Parents of students in eighth through 12th grades can also sign up to receive twice-monthly emailed tips on academic, college and career planning through the Student Planning Pointers for Parents program. The College Funding Forecaster helps families understand the total cost of four years of college based on a freshman-year financial aid offer. Information about these resources is available at www.IowaStudentLoan.org/SmartBorrowing.


About Iowa Student Loan
Established in 1979 as a private, nonprofit organization, Iowa Student Loan helps students and families obtain the resources necessary to succeed in postsecondary education. Iowa Student Loan has helped nearly 400,000 students pay for college. The organization, based in West Des Moines, Iowa, also provides an array of borrower benefits, financial literacy tools and community reinvestment programs, including support for free college planning services for students and their families. For more information about Iowa Student Loan, visit www.IowaStudentLoan.org.




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