production team bios

Jenny Besse is a Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior major at the University of California, Davis. As a soon-to-be graduate, she is excited to pursue a career in the field of public health. She is most passionate about the fight against cancer, and is a six-year volunteer of the American Cancer Society and the current Relay For Life chair on the Colleges Against Cancer National Leadership Team. Jenny is thrilled to be a part of the documentary production team for the Illini 4000's journey across the country, and is currently working with musicians to have original music composed for the film's soundtrack.

Amy Downing Amy is a first year medical student at Cornell University in New York City.  She is currently most interested in pediatrics, oncology, and neonatology.  After an impressive undergraduate stay at the University of Illinois, Amy’s leadership and volunteering credentials deem her as an invaluable asset to the documentary project.  Amy has been helping out with the film by working on exciting ways to kick off the ride at an inspirational place in New York City.

Jeff Ginger is a third year graduate student studying community informatics and library & information science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He attended UIUC for his undergraduate and Masters where he fostered his love for sociology and hatred for computer science. He comes from a Science and Technology Studies (STS) disciplinary background (the insurgents of soc really), a hefty helping of race/ethnicity studies (with intergroup dialogue too!), and is perhaps most famous for his research on His current studies revolve around social & community informatics, battling the digital divide, and human-computer interactions (HCI) and his ultimate PhD work will be some blend of the three.

Jeff also occasionally makes websites, pretends to be an artist, records fun noises, and likes to teach. He has jumped on board with the documentary project serving as the group web designer.

Zachary Herrmann is a graduate student at Stanford University where he studies Education.  A recent graduate of University of Illinois, Zachary is a long time American Cancer Society volunteer and has produced several videos for the Society.  Serving on several national committees and attending numerous national events with the American Cancer Society has inspired Zachary through the amazing efforts of dedicated and driven young adults.  As Executive Producer of the documentary, Zachary has called upon the skills and expertise of many of his colleagues to help make the documentary a success. 

Patrice Yao is currently in graduate school for Human Resources at the University of Illinois, where she had an impressive undergraduate tenure littered with leadership and initiative.  She got involved with the cancer documentary because she likes helping out with big ideas and making things happen from the ground up.  She is also doing it because Zach said if she didn't help out with NYC logistics, he would jump out of the closet and scare her.

Alicia Wojcik is currently earning her masters degree in social work at the University of Southern California.  Alicia first became involved with the fight against cancer during her undergraduate years at the University of Illinois.  Her experience as a volunteer and student leader has proved valuable in her growth as a young social advocate.   Furthermore, her experience as a short independent filmmaker enables her to contribute priceless creative insight to the documentary project.  She is delighted to be working with the documentary production team to gain sponsors for the project and to support the riders and the production crew in Illini 4000’s incredible journey. 

Adam Schwartz, a native of Buffalo Grove, Illinois, is a two-time graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he received his Bachelors of Accoutancy and Masters of Accounting Science. He will be using his newly acquired accounting skills at PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP working in their international tax practice. Adam began volunteering with the American Cancer Society when his grandparents were diagnosed with cancer and since has served in on various local, National, and International committees, including their Board of Directors and National Business Group for Volunteerism. Adam is ecstatic to be a part of this wonderful team by assisting with behind the scenes research and fundraising, as well as serving as a liaison to the Society.