Videos

Women traders carve path in male-dominated industry

By Shen Lu

Trading has always been a male-dominated industry, but some women have made a career out of it.

When Roma Colwell-Steinke, instructor at the Chicago Board Options Exchange Options Institute, started on the CBOE trading floor in 1991, she was one of the four females among 1,000 traders in the derivatives pits.

Colwell-Steinke began her career as a trader in 1985 on the Pacific Stock Exchange in San Francisco. She then traded on the CBOE for 11 years after moving to Chicago in 1990.

Continue reading Women traders carve path in male-dominated industry

Chinese students flock to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

By Shen Lu

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign enrolls more Chinese students than almost any other university in the country.

The 5,629 Chinese students enrolled at the U of I make up more than half of the international student body, according to the university’s International Student and Scholar Services.

They have made significant economic contributions not only to the state’s flagship public university that has faced serious state budget cuts, but also the local economy.

Continue reading Chinese students flock to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Meet the bike courier who delivers food as a career

By Tian Li and Shen Lu

What do you know about the person who delivers your sushi?

Continue reading Meet the bike courier who delivers food as a career

Old Sears headquarters transitions into affordable housing

By Shen Lu

As Sears, Roebuck & Co. reports multibillion-dollar losses in sales and faces a seemingly fraught future, the prospects of its old headquarters on Chicago’s West Side are looking bright.

Continue reading Old Sears headquarters transitions into affordable housing

Last-minute tips for filing your tax return

By Shen Lu

Tick, tock. There is less than one week to go before the deadline to file your 2016 federal income tax return. If you haven’t yet done it, don’t panic. Experts say there is still time to get organized and file on time.

This year, taxpayers get a few extra days, until April 18, to file their returns and pay any taxes owed. That’s because the traditional filing day, April 15, falls on Saturday, and Monday the 17th is Emancipation Day, a holiday in Washington, D.C.

Experts have some last-minute tips for procrastinators and for those expecting a refund.

Photo at top: Experts advise taxpayers to gather all their documents together before filing taxes. (Shen Lu/MEDILL)

When volunteers help connect beat cops with communities, crime often goes down

By Jasmine Cen

A beat facilitator is a volunteer who connects Chicago police officers working a beat with members of the community to help combat neighborhood violence.

Beat facilitators meet monthly with the officers to talk about safety concerns at Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) meetings. The CAPS program began in 1993. More than 200 meetings happen every month. Continue reading When volunteers help connect beat cops with communities, crime often goes down

From divinity to discrimination: The story of Sikhs in America

By Nikita Mandhani

When Tarlochan Singh moved to Chicago in 1980, there weren’t many Sikhs in the city. As the only two boys who wore turbans in school, he and his brother encountered endless questions and mistreatment.

Continue reading From divinity to discrimination: The story of Sikhs in America

Pilsen gallery workshop creates grassroots artwork with a political twist

By Xiao Lyu

Artist Ellen Gradman held a special workshop that combined art with activism in Uri-Eichen Gallery in the East Pilsen Sunday Afternoon.

Dubbed as “Paper Protest”, the workshop taught people the technique of collage to translate their political ideas into artwork with simple tools and materials such as newspapers, art clips and computer printouts.

A former art teacher, Ellen Gradman has long been involved in Chicago’s education justice movement. One of her most famous pieces is a painting of the words “Every Chicago Public School is My School” layered above the city’s outline.

Photo at top: A participant is making a collage using materials such as newspapers and art clips during the Sunday workshop at Uri-Eichen Gallery. (Xiao Lyu/ MEDILL)

Palestinian music director conducts Persian Concert for packed house

By Vishakha Darbha and Hannah Gebresilassie

Emotional, passionate and a musical genius are just a few words used to describe Wanees Zarour.

Born and raised in Ramallah, Palestine, director and composer Zarour leads the Middle East Music Ensemble at the University of Chicago, which was established in 1997.

His “Persian Concert” at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts drew a packed house with over a dozen people sitting on the floor and a handful standing in the doorway to observe the Feb. 27 performance. This was the second of three Persian concerts. The third will be held in the summer.

Composer and director Wanees Zarour shares his music and his journey from Ramallah, Palestine to the United States. (Vishakha Darbha & Hannah Gebresilassie/MEDILL)

Zarour’s journey as a musician began at seven, when he learned to play the violin in Ramallah. He moved to the United States when he was 16.

Today, Zarour primarily embeds Middle Eastern music traditions, including Arab, Turkish and Persian throughout his music. His musical expertise is evident in the way he transcribes complex pieces, including those that lack notation.

The 45-piece ensemble includes a wide range of Middle Eastern instruments, including the oud, tar, santour, sitar, setar and qanun. The ensemble is composed of community members and students, whom Wanees has been directing in the ensemble for six years.

Photo at Top: Palestinian composer and director Wanees Zarour at The Persian Concert held in Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts. The concert was held on Feb. 27 (Vishakha Darbha & Hannah Gebresilassie/MEDILL)

Third graders get real about race and guns in school program

By Jasmine Cen

With so much on the news about violence and crime in Chicago, it’s difficult to shield young people from hearing about it. But psychologists say parents and teachers should not ignore the issues, and children need to talk about what’s happening in their communities, even at a young age.

That’s the spirit behind a program at Village Leadership Academy, where six and seven-year-old students are delving into the city’s most intractable problems.


Students at the Academy recently had their third presentation of several year-long projects on topics like littering, school safety signs and unsafe driving.

This year, some of the third-grade students did research on one of Chicago’s toughest issues: gun violence.

Photo on top: The students give a presentation about their research on gun violence in their neighborhoods. (By Jasmine Cen/ Medill)