Kyle Polke, Class of January 2016

  • College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

You can’t change the world by standing still.

During my time at the University of Illinois I called the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences home, but my journey as a Communication, Psychology, and Leadership Studies student helped me make a difference far beyond campus. Diversifying my studies helped me find what I was looking for in a career and prepared me to change the world around me, even during my time as a student. On campus, I sought out opportunities to build upon my early passion for work with the American Cancer Society (ACS), and connected students eager to make a difference with world-class, lifesaving cancer research being done across the University of Illinois system. Illinois was actually one of the founding colleges for the RSO Colleges Against Cancer, established in 2001. This organization has now spread to over 400 campuses across the country, and I had an opportunity to take the lessons I learned in the classroom and apply them to lead strategy, growth, and development for the nationwide Colleges Against Cancer program. As the RSO President, I was responsible for the Relay For Life event on our campus, raising over $500,000 during my time at Illinois. Today, I follow in the footsteps of many inspiring mentors before me (including the former CEO of the American Cancer Society who is an Illinois Alum) to develop enterprise strategy for volunteer engagement and to train and inspire more individuals around the world to make a difference.

Professionally, I work in Talent Acquisition for Cision, a global media intelligence company headquartered in Chicago. Cision is all about storytelling. We design custom software solutions to help public relations professionals tell the stories of globally recognized brands. I’m lucky enough to be able to provide that same level of support on an individual level for each person that I work with by empowering talent to write the next chapter of their career on our team at Cision. I’m always seeking out passionate talent to join our team of storytellers across tech, marketing, sales and other teams throughout North America. I also lead Cision’s global community engagement efforts, through our Cision Cares program – the perfect blend between my role as a human capital professional and passion for volunteerism!

“You can’t change the world by standing still,” and my advice to Illinois students is to keep moving. Illinois alumni are everywhere, and no matter where you go you will always find yourself surrounded by fellow Illini. I don’t think I truly understood what that meant until after I graduated. Alumni will help you find a job; they’ll help you grow in your career, coach and mentor you. There are so many incredible Illini whose footsteps you can follow in to make a difference. Challenge yourself to forge new paths and do bigger and better things, but don’t forget to look around once in awhile. No matter what path you take to change the world, there will always be other Illini working alongside you ready and eager to help.

(Last Updated: March 2016)