Sports fans that don’t recognize Linda Friedemann’s face may recognize her voice. “I have the reputation of being fairly loud in the stands at ballgames,” Friedemann said. “I’m one of those moms that makes sure that the officials are calling the game correctly.” And when she’s not cheering the Unity Rockets sports teams on to victory, Friedemann, a secretary at the Career Center, helps aspiring doctors, lawyers, dentists and other students achieve their goals by coordinating their letters of recommendation for professional schools. Friedemann began her career with the UI as Extra Help in December 1998 and was hired as a full-time, regular employee shortly thereafter.
Tell me about your job.
I’m primarily responsible for the Letters of Evaluation Online system, which contains letters of recommendation for students applying to graduate and professional schools.
The LEO system helps simplify the application process for students and the faculty members. The typical medical student applies to five to 30 medical schools. If they didn’t use the LEO system, the student would have to contact each school for their evaluation form and submit them to each of their evaluators. With the LEO system, they create one form for their evaluators to fill out. More and more, it’s getting so that evaluators won’t write letters for students unless they go through the LEO system because they’re being inundated with requests.
How many evaluation forms do you process during an academic year?
Thousands. We probably have 3,000 students in our database. Summertime is my peak time because all the pre-health students are going through the application process. There are times when I’ll have 100 packets a day going out by UPS.
We send everything by UPS to the schools. The student is e-mailed a UPS tracking number so they can keep track of their letters and check to see when they were delivered and to whom.
Was the LEO software developed here at Illinois?
Our associate director, Karen Paulsen, and Dan Horlander from the Division of Management Information developed it in-house. The system was licensed and now other universities are using it too.
Before they developed the system about eight years ago, the process required tons of paperwork, filling out mailing labels and certified mail forms. The LEO system communicates with UPS WorldShip; I import address information into UPS and it prints out the mailing labels for me. It truly is an amazing and efficient system.
What other duties do you have?
I am the backup to our office manager. I do all the undergraduate appointments, the requisitions and journal vouchers through the Banner system. I also reconcile the monthly accounts. I work with the 11 assistant directors on their travel reimbursements, travel plans, conference registrations and their fees for professional organizations.
I also coordinate our Graduate and Professional School Fair in October and our Nonprofit and Government Career Fair in the spring. Different universities and nonprofit agencies from across the country come here to promote their continuing education programs, jobs and internship opportunities. This past year, we had 110 schools participate, and we typically have around 50 government/nonprofit agencies participate.
What were you doing before you came to the UI?
I was a full-time mom to two boys, which was a job in itself. My oldest, Christian, will be a sophomore at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, next year. Collin, my youngest, will be a junior at Unity High School.
I also worked a couple of years in the programming department at WCIA, scheduling commercials and doing the program logs.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The students, because they’re such a diverse group. They’re so much fun. It’s fulfilling to see them come into the office when they’re green and not certain what they want to do. Then they make the decision to apply to a professional school and come in the office months later all excited because they’re getting interviews at different medical schools, then they come in and say, ‘Hey, I got an offer!’ It’s nice when they come in afterwards and say ‘Thank you for making this whole process easier.’
Seeing their success makes all the craziness in the summer worthwhile.
What do you do when you’re not working?
Unity Rocket sports! Collin just finished track season, so now we’re gearing up for summer football. Before you know it, fall will be here and I’ll be sitting in those bleachers acting like a crazy mom. I served 12 years on the Unit 7 Board of Education but have been off the board for the past year. I think the next big thing I will get involved with will be Collin’s post-prom committee. I also love to tinker in my flower beds, and I’m re-learning my golf game. There will always be a school-related activity to keep me busy!
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