Mary Painter Bohlen earned her master’s degree in public affairs reporting from Sangamon State University in 1977. She was then hired by United Press International and spent the next five years reporting on activities in the Illinois statehouse. Her tenure included the epic 1982 fight in the legislature over the Equal Rights Amendment. ERA was not passed in Illinois, and it went down to defeat at the national level when it failed to achieve the goal of 38 states adopting it. Mary later spent thirty years teaching journalism classes at Sangamon State University (later renamed the University of Illinois Springfield).