By Ryan Leskis
Julia Spielmann has earned Special Recognition in Graduate Leadership by the UIUC Graduate College, celebrating her outstanding service and positive impact on campus and in broader communities.
As an international student, born and raised in Vienna, Austria, Julia is currently a 6th-year grad student in social psychology, working with Professor Chadly Stern.
In her research, Julia investigates seemingly intractable social and political issues, and the ways in which psychological processes shape engagement in discrimination against marginalized groups.
Julia’s interests and focused path led to work with the Education Justice Project (EJP). The EJP is a participatory and equity-oriented college-in-prison program offering university-level courses to incarcerated students. Since 2016, Julia has served in a variety of roles including course instructor, program coordinator, and member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee.
Julia is also a co-coordinator of the Mindful Discussion Group (MDG). The MDG is a transformative, radical, and humanizing co-created community offering mindfulness meditation to incarcerated students. Within this space, humanity and dignity are nurtured creating liberating and transformative experiences for participating members. In this role, Julia oversees collaborative decision-making and mentors MDG members. This unique participatory space positively impacts not only incarcerated students, and the broader prison community, but the members’ home communities as well.
Though her accomplishments in research and service are remarkable, Julia also excels in teaching. Specifically, she has been ranked as an excellent instructor since 2016. As a presenter at nearly a dozen conferences throughout the country, and as an author of published works, Julia shares her expertise with others.
She matches those abilities in physical strength as a former Austrian National Champion in Olympic weightlifting. In addition, she is the Illinois state record holder in powerlifting. She conquered and won the International Cheese Curling Championship in Arthur, IL. She recently added a 50k race to her accomplishments, finishing 5th place among all women competitors in August of this year.