One part inspiring mentor, one part interesting professor, one part incredible cook.
Janice Collins was all of that — and then some — to 2014 broadcast journalism grad Ashley Kordik.
“I remember my first class with Dr. Collins — it was in a news studio,” says Kordik, now a New York-based executive recruiter at Pittleman & Associates.
“She stood up in front of us and told us about her experiences — how she grew up spending time with Maya Angelou, how she struggled and triumphed as she fought for her career as a black woman journalist.
“Her presence was majestic and magical, and as the year progressed it became extremely apparent that she really understood each one of her students and loved us like her own children.
“She even had us over for spaghetti dinners with garlic bread and a whole table of deliciousness that she made herself.
“She has continued to mentor me and stay in touch since I graduated, and I am so grateful to have such a strong, inspiring, humble woman to look up to as I navigate the working world, always keeping compassion and justice in mind underneath the glamorous elements of our careers.”
Sharing the first line of Kordik’s favorite educators list: Bruce Rosenstock, whose religious philosophy class she took “to knock out a requirement before graduating.”
It wound up being so much more, she says.
“It was a big hall, but I walked out with him a few times as we both made our way across campus to the Foreign Language Building after class. We were both very interested in philosophy and he became a dear and thoughtful mentor to me, even once during his office hours walking me over to another building to get an application for an English teaching position in France and writing me a recommendation letter, as he knew I was really passionate about traveling internationally.
“This, of course, had little to do with philosophy, but that is very telling of his exceptional character. I am also lucky enough to keep in touch with him as a continuous mentor.
“Both Dr. Collins and Professor Rosenstock are incredible examples of the teachers we all dream of having.
"They are genuinely good people who really care about their students. They love both teaching their students as well as learning from them, and they are passionate about their work and about general growth and progress.
“I am grateful to have met them during my time on the wonderful UIUC campus.”