Best student mother crowned in ‘Mom of the Year’ awards

By Jim Vorel

Allison Liska owes her mother her life. One may wonder at the significance of this statement, as everyone can make the same claim.

But when Liska, an ’08 University alumna and elementary teacher, was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis, her mother, Jeane, went “above and beyond” to be at her side. For more than three weeks, Jeane Liska left her home, job and husband to care for Allison, who was confined to a bed in serious medical condition.

“When I look back at that time of my life, nobody was there for me the way she was,” Allison said. “I don’t think that many people, even moms, would give up their own life to care for their daughter the way she did.”

In some small way of thanks for her mother’s actions, Allison was compelled to enter her mother into the University Moms Association “Amelia Alpiner Stern Mom of the Year” award for 2008. She wrote an essay detailing how her mother was forced to leave her workplace and care for her: cooking, doing laundry and collecting class work, all from Liska’s college apartment. Her essay won and Jeane Liska was selected as the 2008 Mom of the Year.

“I was in shock that I won,” said Jeane Liska. “It was a great honor; they read part of the essay and honored several other mothers as well.” Jeane admits she did not make it through the ceremony dry-eyed. “I definitely cried,” she said. “I love U of I so much for doing this.”

This year’s Mom of the Year winner will be announced at the Moms Association Annual Meeting, beginning at 9:15 a.m. on Saturday at the Illini Union Room 210. Students from all walks of campus life have nominated their mothers for particular acts of maternal heroism. The highly emotional nature of the essays is kept in check by grading them on a very specific rubric of point values, downplaying the tear-jerking nature of many of the submissions and ensuring a fair winner.

“These mothers make a huge difference in students’ lives,” said Jennifer Copes, parent program specialist for University’s Parent Program Office. “We are so touched by the stories of these mothers who mean so much to their students.”