Appears In

Please join us in applauding these accomplished Illinois State University alumni.

Excelling in dual roles

Cecilia Suárez ’95

Cecilia Suárez ’95 went from performing at ISU while completing an acting degree to playing a role in Mexico’s most successful movies. She has appeared in theatres, films, and television productions across Spain and the United States as well. The first woman awarded Mexico’s lifetime achievement award in cinema, Suárez is also the first Spanish-speaking actress to be nominated for an Emmy. Her work includes The House of Flowers, Capadocia, and Sex, Shame and Tears. A prominent activist in Mexico, she partners with the European Union and United Nations to campaign for women’s rights and against femicide.

Inspirational journey

Portrait headshot of Rebecca Lynn
Rebecca Lynn ’05

Rebecca Lynn ’05 was awaiting trial on a felony when she began attending ISU. She was with an abusive boyfriend when stopped by police. He was a gang leader and drug dealer, so she took his firearm and bags of cannabis. Lynn received probation and was fined. The man, who was the father of her son, was sentenced. She failed at ISU and attended a community college to improve her grades. Lynn returned to campus and graduated with a degree in philosophy and psychology. She has her own business, Blue Skies Counseling, and now helps others persevere to live life fully.

Extraordinary advocate

John Davis, right, shaking hands with President Joe Biden, left.
President Joe Biden participates in a Veterans Day photo with John Davis ’78, Thursday, November 11, 2021, in the Blue Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

John Davis ’78 met with President Joe Biden and Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough at the White House last fall in conjunction with Veterans Day celebrations. Davis is a political science graduate and director of legislative programs for the Fleet Reserve Association. The role involves leading and shaping Capitol Hill advocacy on veteran, military, personnel, and health care public policy issues. His White House visit included discussions of implementing the VA Electronic Health Record, which would provide a seamless transition for injured service members from the Department of Defense to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

A rising Redbird

Portrait photo of Dr. Mardell Wilson.
Dr. Mardell Wilson, Ed.D. ’99

Dr. Mardell Wilson, Ed.D. ’99, serves as provost of Creighton University. The private Jesuit school is in Nebraska. She began as second in command in 2020 after serving as a professor and dean of the Edward and Margaret Doisy College of Health Sciences at Saint Louis University. Wilson’s administrative climb began at ISU, where she worked 17 years as faculty and an administrator. She rose to professor of food, nutrition, and dietetics and was the associate vice president for Academic Fiscal Management prior to leaving Illinois State. A registered dietitian nutritionist, she is a respected higher education leader.