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Grad Life Contributors

Derek AttigDerek Attig is the Director of Career Development for the Graduate College. After earning a PhD in History here at Illinois, Derek worked in nonprofit communications and instructional development before joining the Career Development team. A devotee of libraries and all things peculiar, Derek is currently writing a book about bookmobiles.


Caitlin EdwardsCaitlin Brooks is a PhD student in Recreation, Sport, and Tourism. Her research focuses on the creation of communities of meaning in liminal leisure spaces and her dissertation explores marriage practices at Burning Man. In her free time, you can find her traveling, cooking, and exploring with her handsome pug, Torbin.


Emily WuchnerEmily Wuchner is the Thesis Coordinator at the Graduate College. She holds a PhD in musicology from the University of Illinois, and her work focuses on music and social welfare in eighteenth-century Austria. In her free time, she enjoys playing the bassoon, watching sports, and hanging out with her calico cat, Gracie Sue.


Mike FirmandMike Firmand is the Assistant Director for Employer Outreach in the Graduate College. He works with employers to connect University of Illinois graduate students to new opportunities and promote the value of graduate education. He previously worked for the College of Business at Illinois State University and has held positions in insurance, marketing, banking, and retail and event management. Mike holds a B.S. in Recreation, Sport and Tourism from the University of Illinois and an M.S. in Communication from Illinois State University.

Ken Vickery is the Director of Fellowships in the Graduate College. He helps graduate students pursue external fellowships, and he coordinates the Graduate College’s fellowship and grant competitions. When not reviewing proposals, he’s either taking pictures or attempting something akin to dancing at the Regent Ballroom.

Wojtek J. Chodzko-Zajko, PhD, is Dean of the Graduate College, Interim Dean of the College of Media, and Shahid and Ann Carlson Khan Professor in Applied Health Sciences. His primary research interests are in the area of aging and health. He spends his free time entertaining and being entertained by his three young children.

KendraKendra Nalubega-Booker is a doctoral student in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on Language and Literacy. She is also a Graduate Assistant Distinguished Graduate Fellow in the Student Money Management Center. Her research interests include African-born immigrant youths, specifically from Anglophone sub-Saharan Africa, and their experiences while transitioning in the U.S. education system. She also has a passion for Education Technology and its potential to enhance literacy in marginalized communities. In her leisure time, she’s cooking, watching TV shows or spending time with family and friends.

Katherine Hatcher Katherine Hatcher is a Neuroscience PhD candidate. Her research aims at understanding the impact of environmental exposures on behavior and the brain. In her dissertation, she will be investigating the impact of phthalate exposure on sleep quality and depressive symptoms in perimenopausal women. Outside of the lab, you can find Katherine hanging out with her three cats, curating her Instagram @grad_selfcare, or contemplating the complexities of Humulus lupulus.

Students Advising on Graduate EducationArticles tagged with "SAGE" are written from the perspective of the current Students Advising on Graduate Education (SAGE) members. SAGE is a student advisory board and leadership opportunity for graduate students at Illinois that fosters active engagement with Graduate College programs and initiatives.