College of Arts and Sciences News Fall/Winter 2017

One Psychology Student’s Desire to Help Others

Siva Sarinas, Gigi's Playhouse volunteer

Siva Sarinas (second from left) at Gig’s Playhouse

As a junior, Siva Sarinas took Families and Children 305 with Roosevelt adjunct psychology professor Barbara Ackles, who required her students to work in the field as part of the course.

Sarinas, who had never worked closely with children before, spent 20 hours a week during the fall 2015 course tutoring children with Down syndrome at Gigi’s Playhouse in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.

The experience opened Sarinas’ eyes to the good she could do and the joy she has since found by helping disadvantaged children all over the world.

“I try to give all of my students practical experience outside the classroom in what it’s like to work helping children and families in need,” said Ackles, one of many Roosevelt professors who offer a service-learning component as part of their coursework.

Siva Sarinas with class in Bali

Sarinas (back row, center) in Bali.

At Gigi’s, Sarinas was an instructor for the Teen Tastic fitness program for teens. She also regularly tutored two teenage girls, ages 14 and 16, teaching them to recognize and sound out words. During this experience, the Roosevelt student found her calling when one of the girls began reading from the book they were looking at together.

“I started crying and my student saw how happy I was. She asked me if she could read what she had learned to her parents,” said Sarinas, who was so moved that she decided to stay on as a volunteer at Gigi’s — even after her Roosevelt course was over.

Recognizing the impact that learning experiences outside the classroom can have in students’ lives, Roosevelt’s Office of the Provost — in conjunction with faculty, staff and students — is currently developing a new general education curriculum with enhanced opportunities for service, internships, research and even study abroad as part of regular coursework. The new curriculum is set to begin in fall 2018.

“Learning opportunities outside the classroom are cited nationally as the experience that students are most likely to remember about college after they graduate.”

Katrina Coakley, Associate Provost for Student Success

“Learning opportunities outside the classroom are cited nationally as the experience that students are most likely to remember about college after they graduate,” said Katrina Coakley, associate provost for student success at Roosevelt.

After a year of volunteering on her own at Gigi’s, Sarinas went to Bali through the Green Lion’s healthcare program in summer 2016 to teach healthcare essentials to children from impoverished areas of the country.

During the six-week program, she taught preschool to fifth graders everything from the importance of hygiene and nutrition to basic English skills.

“These children were so eager to learn,” Sarinas said. “Even though many of them had to come from miles and miles away, they would come early for their lesson. It was another moving experience for me.”

Prior to attending Roosevelt, the 31-year-old Sarinas worked as a physician’s assistant. At Roosevelt she started a Natural Sciences Club, encouraging student members to volunteer doing community cleanup in Chicago’s Garfield Park and working with animals at the PAWS animal shelter in Chicago.

“From the beginning, I could see that Siva had a desire to help others,” said Brent Barker, an assistant professor of physics and a faculty advisor for the Natural Sciences Club. “I’m not surprised that she’s taken what she’s learned and applied it in so many ways to help others.”

While her interest in science remains strong, Sarinas has discovered — thanks to a field experience that was part of her coursework — that her first passion is working with children. After graduation in May 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, she hopes to once again join the Green Lion Program, this time working with needy children in India or Africa.

After recently taking Child Abuse and Violence 303 last semester with Ackles — a course that took her to the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center where she worked with wards of the state — Sarinas also hopes to one day work in courthouses in Washington, D.C. with victims of domestic violence.

“Siva’s journey is in keeping with the spirit of what we’re trying to do with learning at Roosevelt University,” said Coakley. “Her story is an example of the transformative path that experiential learning can provide for our students. She is a role model for how experiential learning can help a student find his or her path in life.”

Chicago Summer Program Showcases Roosevelt Academics, Campus and City

A Chicago Summer program excursion to the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art.

When faculty and administrators in Roosevelt University’s College of Arts and Sciences wanted to develop an integrated learning and living experiential summer program, they looked no further than the city of Chicago.

Roosevelt’s Chicago Summer program features Chicago-themed courses, taught in an intensive format, combined with related cultural experiences and social activities. The program allows students to accelerate toward degree completion, while still enjoying the many sights and activities that Chicago has to offer.

Since the program’s inception in 2015, more than 100 Roosevelt students, visiting international students, and students visiting from other U.S. colleges and universities have taken courses at Roosevelt in Chicago’s culture and history.

Taught by Roosevelt faculty who have real-world experience and community connections, Chicago Summer offers courses in the city’s art, architecture, history, ethnic enclaves, gentrification, public housing and transit. Each course includes daily off-campus excursions that allow students and their instructors to explore Chicago neighborhoods, historical landmarks and cultural attractions.

The class visits a Ukrainian Catholic church.

Over the years, students have visited the Art Institute; Chinatown; Jane Adams Hull House; Museum of Science and Industry; Northerly Island; historic neighborhoods such as Pilsen, Pullman and Ukrainian Village; and even biked the 606 trail.

History professor Margaret Rung has taught in the Chicago Summer program for the past two summers. Her course examines Chicago as a place of work and play during the late 19th and early 20th centuries — a time of intense urbanization, industrialization and immigration.

“Whether we were touring historic Pullman Town, visiting Union Park, or walking through the former Union Stock Yard, students brought the stories of the past to life with their perceptive observations,” Rung said.

“Without the Chicago Summer program’s format of intensive class meetings, our collective journey across the boundaries of space and time would have been impossible.”

During the program, students can live in the Wabash Building with access to all student amenities. The University’s downtown location allows them to discover Chicago’s museums, music venues, theaters, restaurants, festivals and sports teams at their leisure. For those who enjoy outdoor activities, Chicago’s parks, lakefront, beaches, and walking and biking trails are ideal diversions.

Classes in the Chicago Summer program are held in two-week sessions in July. Students have come from near and far, including Goshen, Indiana; New York City; Cameroon; and England.

“The combination of classroom activities and field trips made the course dynamic and interactive. And Chicago has a lot to offer during the summer.”

Danbertrands Chi NdikumVisiting Student, London South Bank University

“I had a great time studying at Roosevelt this summer,” said Danbertrands Chi Ndikum, a visiting student from London South Bank University. “The combination of classroom activities and field trips made the course dynamic and interactive. And Chicago has a lot to offer during the summer. I attended many free events at nearby Grant Park and Millennium Park.”

Current Roosevelt students also enjoy the program. “I took summer courses at Roosevelt because I was able to earn full credits in a time-shortened period. This was helpful when I needed to catch up on credits from previous semesters,” said Sarah Portillo, a senior psychology major.

“Not only are Chicago Summer classes convenient,” she said. “Even though I was born and raised here, I’ve been able to see parts of Chicago I’d never seen before. These have been my favorite classes.”

For more information about Chicago Summer, contact Assistant Dean Juli Rowen at or visit

Roosevelt Making Strides in Cybersecurity

Jacek Halon (BA, ’17)

As Roosevelt University prepares to launch a new degree program in cyber and information security, a recent computer science graduate is becoming a leader in the growing field.

Jacek Halon (BA, ’17) who majored in information technology at Roosevelt, won third prize at the US Cyber Challenge (USCC) Illinois Cyber Camp. The annual invitation-only competition was held in August at Moraine Valley Community College in Chicago’s south suburbs. Halon received his certificate from Tony Scott, former Obama chief information officer. More than 1,300 students applied, representing some 600 colleges and universities nationwide, with only the top 100 invited to attend one of three camps in Delaware, Illinois or Utah.

The five-day intensive boot camp featured classes on trending topics in cybersecurity taught by leading industry executives and government officials. Career panels and hands-on instruction accompanied the lectures. The camp culminated in a virtual cyber-attack and defense “Capture the Flag” competition, where students competed individually and as teams.

“Every bit of data has a story to tell, it just depends on how you look at it,” said Halon. “Working in cybersecurity allows me to take something apart and build a story from the gathered data. Eventually, you learn who was involved, who was affected and, of course, why something was done.”

To support his study at Roosevelt, Halon was awarded the Roosevelt computer science department’s Robert Miner Scholarship, established with a generous gift from alumna Florence Miner in honor of her late brother Robert, co-founder of Oracle Corporation.

As part of his Roosevelt degree, Halon completed an internship at aviation and aerospace firm Woodward, Inc. in Niles, Illinois and has since been hired there as a security analyst, working primarily on defensive security to protect the company’s network and its users from malicious adversaries.

The recognition for the Roosevelt alumnus comes at a time when the need for cybersecurity professionals is critical. In fact, there could be a need for as many as two million more cybersecurity professionals around the globe by 2019, according to a recent Forbes article. To help meet this growing need, Roosevelt will launch a new Bachelor of Science in Cyber and Information Security (CIS) degree program in fall 2018.

“Roosevelt’s CIS program will prepare students for a variety of corporate, government, law enforcement and defense careers, in areas including computer forensics, fraud investigation, intelligence, and terrorism and crime analysis.”

Eric Berkowitz, Associate Professor and Department Chair of Computer Science

“Roosevelt’s CIS program will prepare students for a variety of corporate, government, law enforcement and defense careers, in areas including computer forensics, fraud investigation, intelligence, and terrorism and crime analysis,” said Eric Berkowitz, associate professor and department chair of computer science. “The faculty designed the program so that students earn multiple professional certifications en route to degree completion, and our curriculum follows National Security Agency (NSA) standards.”

Adjunct faculty member Rami Salahieh (BS, ’99; MS, ’02) teaches cybersecurity courses and consulted on the CIS degree.

“Roosevelt’s cyber and information security faculty has strong hands-on experience in computing and information technology,” he said. “They are active in providing cybersecurity awareness and training to our community and to law enforcement agencies. Students learn in state-of-the-art labs with secure virtual machines. Our Cyber Club is a great opportunity for students to participate in cybersecurity training, qualifying them for national and international competitions, as well as successful careers in the growing industry.”

Halon was thrilled to learn that Roosevelt has developed a stand-alone cybersecurity degree.

“We are in the midst of a cyber war and while the need for cybersecurity professionals is critical, the shortage of such professionals is due to the lack of specialized educational programs,” Halon said. “There are many talented people who want to work in the field, but they lack the specialized education. Roosevelt’s new cyber and information security degree will fill that educational gap and will prepare tomorrow’s cybersecurity experts.”

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