Tag Archives: Suzanne McBride

2020 Chicago Spring Farewell, via Zoom, celebrates new graduates and latest accomplishments

This year, our annual Spring Farewell event was celebrated virtually. Vice President Teuta Peja led the online gathering.

IT’S BITTERSWEET TO SAY GOODBYE. You leave an experience behind but you also look forward to a new chapter in your life, eager to apply what you have learned and feeling enthusiastic to share your international experience in your home country.

Due to the pandemic, graduating Fulbright students were not able to attend in-person ceremonies at their host institutions, an event most of us look forward to participating when achieving a life milestone. Our Chicago chapter replaced the traditional Spring Farewell event for a virtual graduating Happy Hour.

Connected in California, Chapter President Dr. Edel Jose welcomed the guests.

On June 18th, 2020, we gathered online to congratulate our newly graduates, listen to some music and learn about some of the latest activities of our returning American Fulbrighters from their host countries abroad.

Our Chicago Chapter Vice President Teuta Peja led the program along with fellow board members Tatiana Orlova and Suzanne McBride. The initial connection issues did not affect the enthusiasm we all were feeling. Our President Dr. Edel Jose, who is currently in California, welcomed the guests. “It’s a time to come together and celebrate being a Fulbrighter,” Jose said.

“It was more important the journey in itself,” said Shend Vishi, a Fulbright student from Kosovo, who is graduating with a master’s in software engineering at Loyola University.

Graduating with a master’s in software engineering at Loyola University Chicago, Shend Vishi from Kosovo said he didn’t know what to expect when he arrived to Chicago and that he couldn’t point out one single unpleasant experience.

“I created friendships that will last a lifetime,” said Vishi, who added he was proud to have represented his country in the United States.

Board member Dr. Bill Peterman, Emeritus Professor of Geography and Urban Studies at Chicago State University, congratulated the recent graduates.

Board member Dr. Bill Peterman addressed the graduating students by sharing some of his Fulbright experience many years ago in the UK. “Once a Fulbrighter always a Fulbrighter,” Peterman said adding that now is the time to share their learning in their home countries.

Board member and Northeastern Illinois University Professor Emerita Dr. Ana Gil-García, inspired all of us to continue fulfilling the mission of the Fulbright Program.

Five-time Fulbright award recipient and board member Dr. Ana Gil-García delivered a message encouraging the departing students to fulfill the mission Sen. William Fulbright envisioned, to become leaders and to strengthen ties of understanding between countries and cultures. Gil-García, an education leader and community organizer, was president of the Chicago chapter in 2007 and 2008.

Playing and singing from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Fulbright alum Joan Miguel López performed the song “Before Our Time.”

Then it was time for music! The first song arrived from Honduras by Fulbright alum Joan Miguel López, who pursued a master’s in cultural and educational policy at Loyola University Chicago in 2018. Playing the guitar and singing “Before Our Time” directly from Tegucigalpa, López delighted the participants with his performance.

Illinois Institute of Technology architecture Fulbright graduate student from Egypt Walid Elshanshoury, played the electric guitar.

Walid Elshanshoury, a current Fulbright student from Cairo, Egypt, who is studying for a master of science in architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT),  also played the guitar, in his case, an electric guitar.

Board member Suzanne McBride introduced Fulbrighters Rachel Jacoby, Lori Niehaus and Amy Verrando, and their project Feed the Front Line.

Board member Suzanne McBride introduced Rachel Jacoby, Lori Niehaus and Amy Verrando, three recent returning Fulbrighters from Malaysia who shared their experience and their entrepreneurial endeavor, Feed the Front Line Chicago.

2019 Fulbrighter to Malaysia and Feed the Front Line co-founder Rachel Jacoby, studied Accountancy and Business at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Jacoby, Niehaus and Verrando met during their 2109 Fulbright in Malaysia. They saw the toll COVID-19 had on the country and in Chicago. Wanting to make a difference along with members of the Fulbright Malaysia cohort, they thought big, envisioning a national campaign calling it Feed the Front Line.

2019 Fulbrighter to Malaysia and Feed the Front Line co-founder Lori Niehaus, is pursuing a Master of Science in Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.

By collecting individual donations to purchase meals from local businesses, this organization delivers these meals to front line workers. Seeing the impact and success of the campaign in Portland, Houston and Pittsburgh, they have been doing similar work in our Chicagoland community.

2019 Fulbrighter to Malaysia and Feed the Front Line co-founder Amy Verrando, studied English Language and Literature, Psychology, Outdoor Recreational Education at University of Minnesota.

This entrepreneurial model helps both the local, family-owned food businesses (restaurants, bakeries and cafes) and the front line workers (Chicagoland hospitals, COVID-19 testing centers, fire stations and nursing homes, among others).

Donations come from individuals, and organizations. They created a GoFundMe to receive donations that ranged from $10 up to $2,500, and they’ve raised more than $40,000. Now that Feed the Front Line is part of an official 501c3 tax-exempt organization — they continue to receive donations through their website at ftflchicago.org. 

What a great way to celebrate accomplishments! Jacoby, Niehaus and Verrando’s project show us how a Fulbright experience brings people together and enhances the collective human experience.

In times of distress, supporting local news sources is more important than ever

By Suzanne McBrideTHE HUNGER WE HAVE for news and information at this chaotic and confusing time demonstrates the important role the media plays in helping us navigate our ever-changing world. Now more than ever it’s imperative that each of us look for reliable information that has been confirmed by credible and authoritative sources we trust.

Where did your family member get the information he posted on Facebook? How did your friend get the information she posted on Twitter? Did the that information come from trained journalists reporting on the coronavirus? Or was your relative or friend simply sharing something they heard somewhere?


The “free” information that many of us get when we go online each day is not actually free.

This is the time when the importance of journalism, especially at the local level, is clear, and that’s why I’m asking each of you to make a commitment to support one local media outlet that’s helping you stay informed in this critical time. Whether it’s one of Chicago’s daily newspapers, a radio or television station, or an online site that covers your community, each of these outlets depends on your business to keep going and be able to provide the invaluable information you’ve come to rely on.

Well before the coronavirus crisis hit, hundreds of local newspapers over the last decade had closed, and many more now are in jeopardy. The “free” information that many of us get when we go online each day is not actually free. Journalists have to shift through a great deal of information; interview reluctant or fearful sources; confirm facts that are often complicated and convoluted; verify the veracity of video and photos submitted to them; produce coherent stories on deadline – and then do it all again later sometimes that same day.

At most media organizations, advertising, subscriptions and/or memberships used to cover the costs of reporters, photographers, editors and other journalists, but that’s not the case anymore at many places. Throughout the United States, news outlets have laid off employees, slashed their workers’ pay, furloughed staff members or had to shut down altogether. Your help is needed to prevent that from happening here in Chicago. Your support of even a few dollars a week can make all the difference.

Here are some of the many local news organizations I hope you’ll consider subscribing to or becoming a member. Please know this is not an exhaustive list:

» Block Club Chicago
» Chicago Defender
» Chicago Public Radio/WBEZ
» Chicago Public Television/WTTW
» Chicago Reader
» Chicago Reporter
» Chicago Sun-Times
» Chicago Tribune
» South Side Weekly

In a time of so much uncertainty when many of our budgets are already strained, I appreciate your willingness to support media institutions that help keep us informed about our democracy. Thank you!


Suzanne McBride is Chair of the Communication Department at Columbia College Chicago and an editor at the Chicago Sun-Times. She is also editor and publisher of AustinTalks.org, an online news site that covers Chicago’s West Side. She had her Fulbright in Ireland.