Rachel Otwell

Rachel's reports focus on the arts, community, and diverse culture. She produces NPR Illinois' original program, Illinois Edition. She also hosts The Scene, which airs on Thursdays and features cultural happenings in the central Illinois region.

She's a graduate of the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois Springfield. While working toward that degree she spent a session covering the state legislature for NPR Illinois and Illinois Public Radio with a focus on fracking. Rachel also holds degrees from UIS in Liberal & Integrative Studies, Women & Gender Studies, and African-American Studies. She's tutored Rwandan refugees in Ohio, volunteered at a Kenyan orphanage,  served as an activities assistant at a nursing home, and volunteered at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand. 

Rachel started a career in public media in 2011 when she interned for the National Public Radio program Tell Me More with Michel Martin in Washington, DC. Her reports have also appeared on NPR's Weekend Edition, NPR's All Things Considered, NPR's Morning Edition, WorkingNow.org, and 51%.

Rachel Otwell/Illinois Public Radio

Late last month, a bus carrying about 25 Texan students -- mostly Latino -- rolled into Springfield. The group was on a mission concerning the legacy of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who led many battles during the Mexican American War. Springfield is home to something that was once very close to the Mexican general, and the students say it belongs back in his home country all these decades later.

Late last month a bus carrying about 25 Texan students, mostly Latino, rolled into Springfield. The group was on a mission concerning the legacy of Santa Anna, who led many battles during the Mexican American War. Springfield is home to something that was once very close to the Mexican General, and the students say it belongs back in his home country, all these decades later.

 

Rachel Otwell

"I was shot, my car was stolen, it was not a good night." So says Kathryn Harris while explaining her attempt at being a police officer. She got in a patrol car and pulled over an officer/instructor who went through a couple of challenging scenarios, like the ones police face regularly.

"cutest baby foot" by Flickr User Lisa Borbely / (CC BY 2.0)

 Illinois is doing better than many other states when it comes to implementing protections for working families.

That's according to a study by the National Partnership for Women & Families. The group's Vicki Shabo says in 2014, Illinois passed a law requiring accommodations for nursing mothers in the workforce. But she wants to see the state expand other rules.  These include giving more than 3 months of unpaid leave to care for a newborn or seriously ill family member.

Steve Moses/Flickr

A new study was completed on one of the mounds at Cahokia State Historic Site.  It shows human remains dated at 900 years old belonged to both men and women.

This contradicts earlier theories that the mound was for elite warrior men, and, according to one professor, shifts the narrative more toward fertility symbolism.  

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