Majoring in chemistry and sociology helps Tonisha Thacker succeed at AARP

Date

11/08/18
Tonisha Thacker, a senior majoring in sociology and chemistry, was named most advanced marketing-business development intern at U of I’s Research Park for her work at AARP.

As a senior studying sociology and chemistry, Tonisha Thacker is used to people questioning her choice of majors, which on paper can seem like complete opposites.

“People are always like, ‘Why?’” she said. But her track record of success speaks for itself—recently, Thacker was named the Research Park’s most advanced marketing-business development intern out of around 500 Illinois students working in Research Park.

“I don’t feel like I did anything spectacular,” Thacker said. “It just felt like I went to work, did the best I could do, and somehow along the way got this award.”

As the communication and marketing intern for AARP’s Tech Nest, Thacker handles internal and external communication, manages social media, and organizes volunteer events among other tasks.

“Tonisha has been able to increase awareness about who we are and what we do at The Tech Nest through her work and social media posts (both internally and externally),” said Miranda Kemp, director of the AARP Tech Nest. “She has also helped establish a strong view of AARP in our local community with the volunteer events that she is organizing.”

One of Thacker’s more time-consuming projects involved creating a Wikipedia-like system that documents the Tech Nest’s technological projects and acts as a reference point for new projects. Thacker said most projects taking place in the Tech Nest are geared toward solving issues AARP’s membership base might face, and utilize modern advancements such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and virtual and augmented realities.

“One of the major problems facing the 50 and older population is they’re segregated off and they lose connections socially,” Thacker said. “We can use voice assisted technologies to rebuild these connections, create augmented realities to help people be more active, have more independence, and connect socially without having to be as mobile in the real world.”

Thacker grew interested in AARP’s Tech Nest because of her desire to one day work for a non-profit, though right out of college she hopes to go into research and development for consumer-packaged goods, a field that would cater to both her majors.

“For sociology, you need to be able to survey consumers, conduct social research studies, and see how they interact with products,” she said. “And then bringing them back into a lab environment, implementing those changes, and communicating with team members on a technological basis is all chemistry.”

Thacker believes that her studies in LAS have allowed her to explore new options rather than restrict her to what she “should” be doing.

“If you want to go out and try something new or combine two majors that on surface level have nothing to do with each other, you should do it,” she said. “Once you get out into the real world, all of that experience is going to help you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a computer engineer who’s also a dog trainer. All of that stuff is going to come in super handy and it’s going to be advantageous of you to have all of those experiences.”


Samantha Jones Toal, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
 

Directory

scheelinAlexander
Scheeline
bjmccallBenjamin
McCall
cmartn10Calgary
Martin
r-gennisRobert
Gennis
j-gerltJohn
Gerlt
mgruebelMartin
Gruebele
hergenroPaul
Hergenrother
huangRaven
Huang
mlkraftMary
Kraft
leckbandDeborah
Leckband
yi-luYi
Lu
martinisSusan
Martinis
snairSatish
Nair
eoldfielEric
Oldfield
rienstraChad
Rienstra
cmsCharles
Schroeder
zanZaida
Luthey-Schulten
sksScott
Silverman
s-sligarStephen
Sligar
tajkhorsEmad
Tajkhorshid
zhao5Huimin
Zhao
pbraunPaul
Braun
mdburkeMartin
Burke
jeffchanJefferson
Chan
sdenmarkScott
Denmark
dlottDana
Dlott
foutAlison
Fout
agewirthAndrew
Gewirth
ggirolamGregory
Girolami
sohirataSo
Hirata
jainPrashant
Jain
jkatzeneJohn
Katzenellenbogen
nmakriNancy
Makri
douglasmDouglas
Mitchell
jsmooreJeffrey
Moore
murphycjCatherine
Murphy
r-nuzzoRalph
Nuzzo
dimerPhilip
Phillips
rauchfuzThomas
Rauchfuss
joaquinrJoaquín
Rodríguez-López
sarlahDavid
Sarlah
kschweizKenneth
Schweizer
jsweedleJonathan
Sweedler
vddonkWilfred
van der Donk
renskeRenske
van der Veen
vuraweisJosh
Vura-Weis
mcwhite7M.
White
sczimmerSteven
Zimmerman
beakPeter
Beak
wklemperWalter
Klemperer
jdmcdonaJ.
McDonald
mvp11Michael
Pak
pogoreloTaras
Pogorelov
mshen233Mei
Shen
dewoonDavid
Woon
wboulangWilliam
Boulanger
rxbRohit
Bhargava
qchen20Qian
Chen
jianjuncJianjun
Cheng
hy66Hong
Yang
andinomaJosé
Andino Martinez
decosteDonald
DeCoste
thhuangTina
Huang
tjhummelThomas
Hummel
dkellDavid
Kell
doctorkMichael
Koerner
marvilleKelly
Marville
crrayChristian
Ray
tlbrownTheodore
Brown
rmcoatesRobert
Coates
thdjrThom
Dunning
dykstraClifford
Dykstra
j-jonasJiri
Jonas
j-lisyJames
Lisy
shapleyJohn
Shapley
pshapleyPatricia
Shapley
awieckowAndrzej
Wieckowski
zumdahl2Steven
Zumdahl
ksuslickKenneth
Suslick
jcoxJenny
Cox
staciryStaci
Clodfelder
sqdSean
Drummond
dmillsDouglas
Mills
sheeleySarah
Sheeley
jsmaddenJoseph
Madden
cknight4Connie
Knight
schulzeHeather
Schulze
slangleySamantha
McLain
ssmurrayStar
Murray
kbaumgarKeena
Finney
adkssnBeatrice
Adkisson
bmylerBeth
Myler
trabari1Katie
Trabaris
strussTheresa
Struss
metclfKara
Metcalf
ljohnso2Lori
Johnson
jenruslJennifer
Russell
lchenoweLeslie
Chenoweth
jcfJonathan
Freiman
wdedoWolali
Dedo
spinnerDavid
Spinner
plblumPatricia
Simpson
stevens2Chad
Stevens
lsagekarLori
Sage-Karlson
bertholdDeborah
Berthold
kecarlsoKathryn
Carlson
sdesmondSerenity
Desmond
axelson2Jordan
Axelson
scbakerStephanie
Baker
pflotschPriscila
Falagan Lotsch
dgrayDanielle
Gray
thennes2Tom
Hennessey
mhettingMary Jo
Hettinger
holdaNancy
Holda
aibarrAlejandro
Ibarra
kimshSung Hoon
Kim
kocherg2Nikolai
Kocherginsky
philipk2Philip
Kocheril
legare2Stephanie
Legare
alewandoAgnieszka
Lewandowska
smccombiStuart
McCombie
jdm5Justin
McGlauchlen
egmooreEdwin
Moore
myerscouKathleen
Myerscough
snalla2Siva
Nalla
romanovaElena
Romanova
roubakhiStanislav
Rubakhin
shvedalxAlexander
Shved
asoudaAlexander
Soudakov
xywangXiying
Wang
kwilhelKaren
Wilhelmsen
wilkeyRandy
Wilkey
silongSilong
Zhang
schlembaMary
Schlembach
trimmellAshley
Trimmell
emccarr2Elise
McCarren
cmercierChristen
Mercier
atimpermAaron
Timperman
niesShuming
Nie
hshanHee-Sun
Han
mmgMutha
Gunasekera
kknightsKatriena
Knights
lisawLisa
Williamson
keinckKatie
Einck
kneef1Kaitlyn
Neef
park384Joyce
Park
jmadden4Jason
Madden
txiang4Tiange
Xiang
e-rogersElizabeth
Rogers
j-hummelJohn
Hummel
i-paulIain
Paul
munjanjaLloyd Tafara
Munjanja
glnGayle
Nelsen
agerardAnna
Gerard
powerskaKimberly
Powers
lolshansLisa
Olshansky
miricaLiviu
Mirica
qingcao2Qing
Cao
ljulianLisa
Julian
lisa3Lisa
Johnson