Chicago attorney and former alderman Latasha Thomas’ Illini experience, in three acts:
1. “The first was in political science, the study of President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative. It was a very fascinating concept.
2. “The second focus was the political considerations in running a campaign. My family has always been involved in Chicago politics — from the ’50s to the early ’80s. .
3. “The third focus was in speech communications and group decision dynamics.
“Because I have known that I would be an attorney since I was 13 years old, these topics were of particular importance to me.
“The political science professor I had twice allowed me to write about SDI in support of it one year and against it the next year. She really helped me thoroughly think about issues.
“Her approach and coaching really trained me for the practice of law. She saw me being excited and extremely supportive of the SDI. Then, the next year, she saw my opinion completely change about SDIs successful concept.
“In the practice of law/litigation, it is always a plus to be able to argue either side of an issue. Actually, I used this concept in several classes. If this was a graduate course, that paper would be my thesis statement.
“I have fond memories of this professor. Plus, she canceled classes during the first and second rounds of March Madness. I was glued to the television during that time, watching college basketball.
“With my second focus, running a political campaign, Professor Dianne Pinderhughes, was my favorite. We dissected the Harold Washington race for mayor and the Jesse Jackson run for president.
“Professor Pinderhughes’ class reignited my interest in the operations of politics, the political system and political organizations. Many of the topics that we discussed, I used later as a volunteer on campaigns, as a precinct captain, as a coordinator during a campaign, as treasurer of a political organization, as campaign manager and as a candidate for political office.”