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Nicole Jorwic

Nicole Jorwic

Director of rights policy | The Arc of the United States

That superstition about rubbing the 16th President’s schnoz inside Lincoln Hall for good luck?

Nicole Jorwic is a believer.

“I started undergrad as a political science major and while I changed a few times before graduation, that was where those classes began,” she says from Washington, D.C.

“Since I currently work as a lobbyist and director of rights policy for a national non-profit for people with disabilities, I know that I am using some of the core lessons learned in those halls every day.

“The statue is where so many U of I students and grads have found luck. For me, the fondest memory doesn’t date back to my time on campus, but goes back to 2015. I was down in Champaign with my mom — fellow alum Therese Klatt Jorwic (’79, pictured here with her daughter). We were going for a girls weekend to watch the Fighting Ilini play basketball.

“At the time, I had just left my job working for the governor in Illinois and I didn’t know what the next chapter would look like. Of course, my mom and I had a lot to talk about and we decided to go to the Union and then walk the Quad, it was snowing that night. We decided to go into Lincoln Hall, and were glad to find the doors open.

“I went and rubbed Abe’s nose, asking for my next move to become clear. It was only a week or so after that, that I got the offer to come and work in federal policy in Washington, D.C.”

While Lincoln Hall produced Jorwic’s best story, there’s no place on campus quite like the Illini Union to her.

“I was the VP of policy and finance for the Illini Union Board, so I spend so many hours of my college experience in the Union planning events, working events and becoming lifelong friends with my fellow board members.

“The Union is a place where all should feel welcome and we tried — and sometimes failed — to have events that would cater to the variety of students that call U of I home.”