University Park, IL,
10:20 AM

Pi Alpha Alpha Welcomes New Members

Chris Welch speaks at the PAA induction ceremony

Governor State University’s Chapter of Pi Alpha Alpha (PAA) , the National Honor Society of Public Affairs and Administration, held an induction ceremony for new members recently.

The five new members - Heather Bruder, Jah'miaa Brooks, Anthony Johnson, Joanie Fleming-Poindexter and Jaime Vasquez - were honored during a virtual ceremony held on zoom, where they were sworn into the global honor society. PAA recognizes outstanding graduate students in public administration, public policy and public affairs.

The members held up their right hands, reciting an oath read by Dr. Mary Bruce, Professor of Public Administration, pledging to support the “intellectual and professional advancement of the art and science of public administration and public affairs.” They also pledged to “honor and respect the virtues and values of public service and those who serve.”

They were congratulated by a host of speakers, including GSU President Dr. Cheryl Green, who advised the new members to take advantage of what the organization has to offer.

“In addition to interesting education events, there are volunteer opportunities and network opportunities,” Green said. “The experiences you have here are not only great resume notations but they also help prepare you for life after college, for advancement, for leadership and for a fulfilling career.”

Bruce, who spearheaded the idea to develop a GSU chapter of PAA in 2014, told the members, guests and individuals who received awards that she’s “so glad to see you get your flowers while you can smell them because you are amazing at GSU.”

Speaker of the House Emanuel Chris Welch brought the keynote and congratulated the members and shared his story of how he became the first Black person to hold his position in the Illinois House of Representatives. While he’s proud of that title, he noted it’s more important for him and different stakeholders to work together for the benefit of their communities.

“Let’s do something good together,” he said to the ceremony attendees. “And that applies for whether you're in elected office or not - if you're a village manager, elected trustee, a clerk, you name it. It's all about doing something for the people that put us in those positions.

“Another thing is to always do it courageously, civilly and do it with a lot of compassion. If you do that, you're going to be alright,” he added.

PAA members also announced recipients for the fifth annual partnership awards:

  • Outstanding Nonprofit Partner Award: Sickle Schmickle, an organization advocating for individuals affected by Sickle cell conditions and their families.
  • Outstanding Community Partner award: GSU Chief of Police James McGee  
  • Outstanding Government Partner Award: Cook County Circuit Court Judge Nichole Patton

Joining the ranks of more than 50,000 PAA members are the following Jaguars:

Bourbonnais native Heather Bruder received her bachelor’s degree from Olivet Nazarene University in Business Administration and Christian Education. She currently works as a financial aid coordinator and is pursuing her master’s degree in Public Administration from Governors State with the goal of continuing to work in the public sector.

Jah'miaa C. Brooks (‘19) earned her bachelor’s degree from Governors State in Anthropology and Sociology and a minor in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Brooks is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Public Administration and Criminal Justice with plans to become a medical anthropologist and foreign officer for the United Nations to help people of color overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.

U.S. Navy Veteran Anthony Johnson served for 26 years across the world achieving the final rank as Senior Chief Petty Officer. Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in Workforce Education and Development from Southern Illinois University, and is currently a Child Support Specialist I. He is pursuing a joint MBA in Public Administration and Criminal Justice at Governors State.

Joanie Fleming-Poindexter (‘09), a Specialized Reading Teacher and home daycare owner and operator from Chicago, currently lives in Memphis, Tenn. She has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Governors State and is currently in the Public Administration master’s program with a plan to work with children and advocate for their interests.

Chicago native Jaime Vasquez is working towards his master’s degree in Public Administration at Governors State. Vasquez is a Specialist for the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice and previously worked with a Chicago-area food distribution center. He hopes to serve as a public manager in a nonprofit, local, county, state, or federal organization.

Congratulations to all!