ICCTA Distinguished Alumnus Award

2002 Nominees

Eric R. Donaldson
Art teacher
Pecatonica High School
Highland Community College (1974)

Donaldson is credited with revitalizing Pecatonica's award-winning art program, including an artistic blacksmithing class that is the first in the Midwest and one of only five in the United States. He has also recorded interviews with artists on the Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota – a contact initially made while teaching part-time at HCC. "Has my Highland experience shaped my life?" he asks. "You're darn right it has, and I only hope that it continues to do so for many years to come!"

Dr. Christine A. Baumgardner
Chief resident
Family practice residency program, University of Illinois
Carl Sandburg College (1988)

Dr. Baumgardner and her husband enrolled at Carl Sandburg in 1985 after both experienced job layoffs. This summer she plans to return to Galesburg to practice in the community where she began her college education. "When I first started at CSC, I thought that I wanted to follow an accounting career," she says. "Community colleges offer a perfect place for beginning, starting over, or investigating possibilities."

John C. Browning
Adjunct resident supervisor of student teachers
Western Illinois University
Spoon River College (1963)

Browning was a senior in high school when then-Canton Junior College opened its doors in fall 1960. "The opportunity to go to college, at the time for literally just the cost of the books, was impossible to pass up," he says. Now semi-retired after 31 years in the Galesburg school system, the last 14 years as principal of Galesburg High School, Browning continues to maintain ties to his alma mater as president of Spoon River's Alumni Association.

Dr. Harry A. Carter
Southern Illinois Primary Care Associates
Lake Land College (1989)

Co-valedictorian of his medical class, Dr. Carter chose to return to his rural Illinois roots and practice in one of the state's most underserved areas. His primary-care services include making house calls, providing medical care at no cost, seeing patients in nursing homes, and helping individuals obtain prescriptions through various indigent programs. "My professors at Lake Land demonstrated to me the joy and importance of sharing of knowledge and it is confirmed by the medical dictum, ‘See one, do one, teach one,'" he says.

Darin K. Dascotte
Paint process engineer
Nascote Industries
John A. Logan College (1993)

Overcoming the "new kid on the block" mentality of his co-workers, Dascotte headed a team project to develop rotary atomizers to replace conventional spray guns in the paint application process. The successful effort allowed Nascote to become the first manufacturer to implement this technology and yielded $1.3 million in cost savings. "I owe it to John A. Logan College for taking a young, unsure person and turning him into a confident, professional individual," says Dascotte.

Sharon Doubet
Professional development facilitator, early childhood program
Peoria School District
Illinois Central College (1975)

Doubet is a nationally recognized trainer in the field of early childhood education. She has produced 35 TV and video programs on the topic and is a featured author in an upcoming book on teaching children with special needs. "I was so thankful I started my education at ICC in a program that was progressive and offered solid courses to help me find employment right away, yet continued to help me 14 years later as I prepared to pursue my bachelor's degree, and even later, my master's," says Doubet.

James P. Eichhorst
Legislative director
Office of U.S. Rep. Timothy Johnson
Parkland College (1982)

"During my high school years, I was uncertain about attending college," Eichhorst admits. "Parkland provided me with a step toward higher education. Had it not been for Parkland, I probably wouldn't have graduated from college, or achieved a fraction of my success." In addition to his Washington duties for Rep. Johnson, Eichhorst remains a partner in his family's 1,400-acre farming operation in east central Illinois.

Katherine Hannell
Executive director and owner
The Learning Tree Child Care Centers, Inc.
Elgin Community College (1980)

When Hannell opened her first child care center in 1978, she lacked the credentials to be her own director. Today she directs three centers that has served thousands of area children, and her life story was featured in a 2001 Mutual of Omaha television ad. "I am not exaggerating when I say that my business would not be what it is today without the support of Elgin Community College," notes Hannell.

Steve Heisner
Director of administration
Dippin' Dots, Inc.
Shawnee Community College (1974)

Heisner is a Methodist minister whose service-oriented background includes work as a vocational counselor and assistant prison warden. He now oversees the day-to-day operations at Dipping' Dots, Inc., a Fortune 500 company based in Paducah, Kentucky. Elected to the Shawnee Community College board in 1991, he has served as vice chair, chair, and most recently, board liaison to the SCC Foundation.

Arles Hendershott
Community relations director
Rock Valley College (1976)

One of America's first female news directors, Hendershott has earned professional awards from nearly every major media organization, including the Associated Press and the National Association of Broadcasters. She continues to mentor aspiring journalists and volunteer her time to local charities despite serious health issues. "I firmly believe I am a successful professional today because of the start I received at Rock Valley College," states Hendershott.

Dr. Georgiana L. Herzberg
Associate professor of occupational therapy
Nova Southeastern University
Southwestern Illinois College (1963)

Dr. Herzberg is well-known in the occupational therapy field for her efforts to increase healthcare services to the homeless, children with HIV/AIDS, and marginalized youth. She currently oversees a federal grant designed to encourage young professionals to work with underserved and minority populations. "Certainly my accomplishments were shaped by my experiences here at Southwestern Illinois College," says Herzberg.

Angela Johansson
Staff writer / part-time speech instructor
Kishwaukee College
Kishwaukee College (1995)

"As my friends packed their bags for college, I was bagging groceries," recalls Johansson. Financial aid in the form of a work-study job in the college foundation office set her on the path to a degree – and a chance to join Kishwaukee's marketing staff. Johansson also teaches speech and English at her alma mater, winning the 2001 Board of Trustees' Award of Excellence for part-time instructors. "Community colleges change lives; I know because Kishwaukee College changed mine," she says.

Miguel Juarez
Chief of police
Waukegan Police Department
College of Lake County (1984)

Chief Juarez came to the United States at the age of one when his family migrated from Mexico. After high school he worked in a factory, then enlisted with the Marines. Shortly after joining the Waukegan police in 1979, he enrolled at CLC to pursue his dream of a college education. "The College of Lake County was the catalyst that initiated my formal education, enabled me to further my educational goals, and assisted me in job advances within my department," Juarez says.

D. Jeannine Kelly
Attorney / administrative hearing officer
Madison County Code Hearing Unit
Lewis and Clark Community College (1981)

A specialist in environmental law, Kelly successfully negotiated a multi-million dollar settlement award for 23 property owners whose land had been contaminated with lead and dioxin – doing so within five months and without filing suit against the responsible party. In 1999 her legal prowess was acknowledged by her appointment as Administrative Hearing Officer for the Madison County Board's newly formed Code Violations Hearing Unit.

Joseph Kolb, Jr.
Assistant port director, O'Hare International Airport
U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
Oakton Community College (1981)

Kolb has earned five performance awards for his work, including kudos for saving the life of a heart attack victim. He also represents his agency at congressional hearings and to U.S. Consulates abroad. "I have always been proud to be a graduate of OCC," Kolb says. "Today my wife, who is also an immigrant to the U.S., is seeking a degree at a community college. As my children prepare for higher education, they are fully aware the effect of a community college has played in our lives, as a family."

Dr. Douglas A. Kruse
Family physician
Kaskaskia College (1989)

Dr. Kruse recently left a lucrative medical practice "where patients were churned out as fast as possible" to open his own patient-centered family practice in his hometown. "Sure, more pay could be attained elsewhere, but using your skills to better your own community is more satisfying," he says. "Kaskaskia College taught me that in life, after family, everything begins with community."

Patricia Chase Magon
Chase Communications
South Suburban College (1973)

Magon's many achievements include a successful public relations company, a private pilot's license, and election as the first woman trustee of the village of South Holland. She also volunteers as chair of the Chicago Southland Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Attending South Suburban College was the best way for me to receive my education and one that I highly recommend to anyone wishing to start or continue working for their degree," Magon says.

Shirley M. Moore
Community volunteer
Richland Community College (1985)

Moore has volunteered her time and talents to numerous boards, including the Decatur City Council from 1987 to 1995. Appointed as a trustee of the Decatur Public Library, she served four years as president and successfully raised funds for a new facility. Moore says that "it was an honor to be asked to co-chair Richland's referendum efforts in 1995. . . . Certainly Richland has played an important role in my life, enabling me to advance my formal education at my own pace."

Carol L. Nichols
Publisher,Danville Commercial-News
Danville Area Community College (1986)

Nichols began working part-time at her hometown newspaper while taking classes at DACC. "The instruction I received in business and marketing provided me with the foundation to move through the business ranks from ‘go-for' to advertising director to general manager and finally publisher," she says. "I believe so strongly in the mission of DACC that I have served for several years on their Marketing Advisory Board. It is a chance to repay the opportunities afforded me by the college."

The Hon. David Phelps
U.S. Representative, 19th Congressional District
Southeastern Illinois College (1967)

A former schoolteacher and administrator, Rep. Phelps served 14 years in the Illinois House, where he chaired the Elementary and Secondary Committee and the Health Care Availability and Access Committee. Elected to Congress in 1998, he continues to fight for better schools, affordable healthcare, and rural economic development. Rep. Phelps is also a professional songwriter and the lead singer for the Phelps Brothers Quartet, a gospel group that has gained nationwide acclaim.

Maureen Rebholz
Director of education
Illinois Valley Community Hospital
Illinois Valley Community College (1981)

When her husband was diagnosed with a major illness, Rebholz returned to school in case she had to support their family. "IVCC made a world of difference for my family and me," she says. "The nursing program at IVCC offered me the chance to get a respected, moderately paying job close to home." Rebholz now serves as director of staff education at a local hospital while teaching part-time in Illinois Valley's allied health division.

Carl Rowley
Resource team leader, Infinity team
Panduit Corporation
Rend Lake College (1977)

Rowley admits that he knew nothing about electricity before enrolling at Rend Lake in 1975. Today he oversees the installation and programming of energy management systems for the global Panduit Corporation. A true lifelong learner, he has taken computer classes at Joliet Junior College and is completing his HVAC certificate at Moraine Valley Community College. "My career has taken me halfway around the world, but it all began at Rend Lake College," Rowley says.

The Hon. David P. Sterba
Circuit judge
Circuit Court of Cook County
Moraine Valley Community College (1977)

Judge Sterba worked the night shift as a Moraine Valley security officer while attending classes during the day. The first in his family to graduate from college, he went on to law school, became a criminal prosecutor, and won election in 1996 to the Circuit Court, where he presides as a felony trail judge. "The experiences I gained from my two years at Moraine Valley are still with me today as a judge," he explains. "They have shaped my desire to give something back to the college and to the community."

Scott Walker
Fire chief
Quincy Fire Department
John Wood Community College (1981)

Chief Walker was the first graduate of John Wood's fire science program. He has since been deeply involved in developing and teaching JWCC courses in fire science and emergency response, including the only on-line Fire Officer Certification I program in the state. "Through the community college experience I have been afforded many opportunities for personal challenges and growth," he says. "These have set me on a career path which has led me to where I am today."

Dr. Reva K. Williams
Associate professor of astrophysics / Director of the Center for Women and Science
Bennett College
Malcolm X College (1977)

Dr. Williams is the nation's first African-American female astrophysicist. She has distinguished herself in her field by becoming the first to prove the "Penrose mechanism," a mathematical model that uses Einstein's General Theory of Relativity to explain how to extract energy from black holes. In her commencement address to Malcolm X's class of 2001, Dr. Williams said, "I began like most of you. Malcolm X College gave me the background strength I needed. It helped me become what I am today. I am here to tell you that you can be anything you want to be if you work hard toward it, have faith and never give up."