Meet our Team

Meet the core team who work on the Illini Success initiative to bring new resources and information to the Illinois community.

Julia Panke Makela, PhD

Photograph
Title
PhD
Role
Associate Director for Assessment and Research at The Career Center; Project Lead for Illini Success
Undergraduate College
Cornell University, BS in Computer Science
First Destination
The Florida State University, MS in Counseling
Favorite Part of Illini Success
I enjoy the involvement of current students and graduates in the Illini Success initiative. For example, the idea for the Illini Success image of our graduates going out into the world (at the top of this website page) came from a focus group of current students. Additionally, I am endlessly inspired by the reflections that graduates share in their success stories and their advice for current students. The contributions and excitement of our students and graduates is the reason that this initiative will make a positive impact!

Jennifer M. Neef, MS

Photograph Photo of Jenny Neef
Title
MS
Role
Director, The Career Center
Undergraduate College
Kansas State University, BS in Animal Science
First Destination
Michigan State University, MS in Animal Science
Favorite Part of Illini Success
I love to see the breadth of wonderful opportunities that Illinois students pursue after earning their degree.

Shinta Hadi, MS

Photograph Photo of Shinta Hadi
Title
MS
Role
Senior Data Analyst at the Division of Management Information, Primary Analyst for Illini Success
Undergraduate College
University of Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia; BS in Engineering Physics, Minor in Signal Processing, Circuits, and Computer Science
First Destination
Computer Science Center, University of Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia. Research Faculty for Graphics and Database.
Favorite Part of Illini Success
When I started looking at the data I was very amazed with the diversity and variety of student's majors. Having analyzed where they landed in their first job to start the journey and to carve their careers, I am very impressed and very hopeful for their bright and brilliant futures.

Kit Santa Ana, BA

Photograph Photo of Kit Santa Ana
Title
BA
Role
Data and Survey Research Scientist
Undergraduate College
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, BA in Economics
First Destination
Research Coordinator, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of ACES
Favorite Part of Illini Success
As survey administrator, I've had the opportunity to see this initiative from its many sides and have enjoyed the energy behind each of them. The excitement of the graduates picking up their caps and gowns is truly something to behold and the effort of the staff working to share these stories and connect with those still writing theirs is inspiring. There are reasons to care and people who do, and seeing all of that embodied in this project has definitely been my favorite part.

Paige Cunningham, PhD

Photograph Photo of Paige Cunningham
Title
PhD
Role
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Illini Success Data Analyst
Undergraduate College
Bryn Mawr College, AB in Anthropology
First Destination
University of Washington Tacoma, MA in Interdisciplinary Studies
Favorite Part of Illini Success
The diversity of paths to success that are open to our graduates after they finish their degrees at Illinois is always impressive to see. Whether they are starting new jobs, continuing on to further education, or taking different, less travelled routes, it is exciting to learn about all of the ways our students are beginning their journeys into successful futures.

Jahnvi Thahirani, BEng

Photograph Photo of Jahnvi Thahiriani
Title
BEng
Role
Research Assistant for The Career Center, specializing in Illini Success data analysis
Undergraduate College
Rajiv Gandhi Proudyogiki Vishwavidyalaya, BEng in Computer Science
First Destination
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, MS in Information Management
Favorite Part of Illini Success
What I love about Illini Success the most is the way it depicts success stories of graduates from all backgrounds, inspiring other students to follow suit.

Ralph Roether, BFA

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Title
BFA
Role
Media Communications Specialist and Graphic Designer, Illini Union Marketing
Undergraduate College
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, BFA in Graphic Design
First Destination
Graphic Designer at the News Gazette, Champaign, IL
Favorite Part of Illini Success
As the graphic designer for the Illini Success initiative, I have had the chance to relearn how to build charts and graphs in Adobe Illustrator. Opportunities to learn and develop new skills are all around us – keep watching for them as you move beyond the classroom!

And Many, Many More…

While the core team who keeps the Illini Success initiative running day-to-day may be small, the support for this work is broad and campus-wide. This effort could not be accomplished with out the efforts and support of our many campus partners. We would like to acknowledge them here.

The Illini Success project is a joint collaboration among the Office of the Provost, The Career Center, the Division of Management Information, and the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning at the University of  Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Thanks are extended to the following groups who have supported the initiative since its beginnings in early 2014, including the: Council of Undergraduate Deans, Career Services Council, Office of Public Affairs, Office of the Registrar, Institutional Review Board, Illini Union Marketing Team, College of Engineering Web Services Team, The Career Center Advisory Committee, University Chief Communications Officers, University Foundation and Alumni Relations, and countless others.