Monthly Archives: August 2018

“Everyone in the room is now your cheerleader.”

A Warm Welcome to New IPS Students from SEC Chair, Hannah Thompson

During last week’s New Student Orientation, Student Engagement Committee (SEC) chair Hannah Thompson welcomed all new IPS students with warmth and energy, delivering the below:

“You are about to embark on an amazing journey!  You should be so excited.  I am a part-time social justice student.   I commute from Elmhurst every week.  For undergraduate, I got my degree in communications. When I graduated from Elmhurst College, I interned at different nonprofits, did some advocacy work with the Federal Communications Commission and the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation for five years then came back to school.”

“In this department, I have had Dr. Mike Canaris and Dr. Peter Jones as professors.  They were tremendous.  Everyone here wants you to succeed.  I feel like they know you will do the work.  As a student who takes twice the time it takes you to do a paper, I can attest that the workload is reasonable.  This is graduate school.  Feel welcome to communicate with professors but you cannot afford to not put in the effort.  As long as they know you’re trying, they will help you.  For example, in Mike’s class, I was doing well on the assignments, but I wanted to throw the textbook out the window.  I expressed that to him, and he said, “I know you don’t have a background in theology.  It’s okay.”  We worked through it.  Every single professor wants you to succeed.  They truly do.”

Photo Source: Chicago Parent Magazine

“Ok, now I get to talk about the fun stuff!  I am the Student Engagement Committee (SEC) chair.  Last year, I was sitting where you are.  I decided to go to the first meeting.  It’s really fun.  Now, I’m in a leadership position.  With my disability, I could have easily been the online student that no one really knew.  That identify did not sit with me very well.  Getting involved really and truly is rewarding.  For one, I can walk into a classroom and have an idea of who that professor is and vice versa.  Your experience is so much richer if you get involved.  We also need members to make the Student Engagement Committee work.  The majority graduated last spring so I hope you at least come to the first meeting scheduled for September 5th at 3 o’clock.  We won’t have it the first week because that would be crazy but the second week on Sep 5th at 3pm, please come.  Getting involved only leads to good things.

“To sum up, everyone in the room is now your cheerleader.  We need to be present.  Get to know people.  These professors have touched my life.  This is a very devoted group of faculty that will challenge you while respecting your beliefs.  As for me, I’m the woman using a wheelchair, who uses a communication device to speak, usually in pink.  I’m real easy to recognize.  I want to get to know you.  I hope to see you around and chat.”

May the entire IPS family have a blessed academic 2018-2019 year and continue its mission to facilitate the integrated ministerial development of diverse and dynamic leaders for creative, compassionate, and courageous service to church and society.


If you want to reach out to Hannah directly, you can email her at  To learn more about IPS, go to  For those interested in applying to IPS, go to