ICCTA Distinguished Alumnus Award
Principal, Huff Elementary School
Elgin Community College (1967)
"When I attended Elgin, I was the only Hispanic in the college,"
recalls Cabrera, whose family emigrated from Cuba in 1957. "I
decided that I should go into teaching to help Hispanic students and
their families understand the value of a good education." His career
has since taken him from bilingual teacher to principal of an 800-
pupil grade school. In addition, his involvement in the Club
Guadalapano Scholarship Committee has raised more than $10,000
for deserving students.
Weather reporter, WLS-TV
College of Lake County (1984)
One of the system's growing number of "reverse-transfer"
students, Caplan began at CLC following six unspectacular months
at a private university. There he found his niche at campus radio
station WCLC. "And I'm still on the air to this date," Caplan says.
"Are the audiences bigger? Sure. Is the equipment better?
Certainly. But the fundamental task of communicating I honed at
CLC has remained the same."
Dr. Lannie Cation
Director, Ambulatory Internal Medicine Clinic
University of Illinois College of Medicine
Carl Sandburg College (1985)
Dr. Cation is an internationally recognized expert in the field of
ambulatory medicine. Prior to his affiliation with the University of
Illinois, he had risen to the rank of major in the U.S. Air Force and
was based at Wright-Patterson Medical Center in Ohio. Last year
he received the university's Internal Medicine Faculty Teaching
Award; he earned the Air Force's Meritorious Service Award in
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.
Chair, Business division, Southeastern Illinois College
Southeastern Illinois College (1977)
2001 award recipient -- click here to read more
"My life's story is very similar to a lot of the students I have in my
classes," says Keasler, whose family moved over a dozen times by
the time she was 13. "I thought we hit the jackpot by moving into
the local housing project." A 1996 nominee for ICCTA's
Outstanding Faculty Member Award, she also advises a service
organization at Southeastern that won regional honors for Make a
Difference Day in 1999.
Mary E. Kiefner
Program supervisor, Associate degree nursing program
Illinois Central College
Illinois Central College (1984)
Kiefner is another community college almnus who has excelled in
her profession and then chosen to return to her alma mater as an
instructor. Her 10 years as a neuroscience staff nurse and staff-
development administrator have allowed her to bring first-hand
experience to her classroom. "This value of seeking knowledge is
now what I desire to impart to my students as I teach at our local
community college," Kiefner says.
Dr. Dennis R. Kolata
Principal geologist, Sedimentary and crustal processes section
Illinois State Geological Survey
Highland Community College (1966)
Kolata has researched such topics as earthquake activity in the
central United States, the distribution of ancient volcanoes, and the
origin and evolution of fossils. He has also published more than 70
peer-reviewed papers. "I cannot over-emphasize the significant
role that community college has played in my career," says Kolata.
"This has been a great journey thanks to those instructors who gave
me encouragement and cultivated my interest."
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."
John R. Krimmel
Chief investment officer, State Universities Retirement System
Richland Community College (1988)
Krimmel has gone from graduating in the bottom half of his high
school class to managing one of the largest pension funds ($12
billion) in the country. At the age of 38, he is also one of the
youngest CIOs in his industry. Prior to joining SURS, he was a
senior associate with the international accounting firm Deloitte &
Touche, LLP. Krimmel credits Richland's "caring atmosphere . . .
for providing the first indications that learning could be fun."
Kathleen L. Liefer
Vice president and treasurer, Red Bud Industries, Inc.
Southwestern Illinois College (1982)
Liefer's role in her family's multi-million-dollar steel-cutting
company has grown from sorting nuts and bolts in the stock room
to negotiating contracts with foreign businesses. She has become a
role model in another way, too -- one-third of Red Bud's employees
have taken classes at Southwestern. "Little did I realize at the time
I attended how much this college would influence my life and the
lives of many of my colleagues," Liefer says.
Dwight A. Lucas
Chief executive officer, East Central Illinois Community Action
Danville Area Community College (1975)
When Lucas received his draft notice in 1968, he enlisted in the Air
Force so that he could take classes that would transfer back to
DACC. He also made a point of writing quarterly reports on his
progress to then-college president Mary Miller. "I firmly believe
that I could not have accomplished all the good things in my life
without starting at Danville," says Lucas, whose wife and three
children have also taken advantage of DACC's degree programs.
Holly L. McCann
Senior operations advisor, Small Business / Self-Employed Division
Internal Revenue Service
Rend Lake College (1975)
McCann was a 17-year-old single mother when she began at Rend
Lake. Her profession has subsequently taken her to Washington,
D.C., where she has led initiatives to make the IRS more service-
friendly. "The person I've ultimately become was influenced
greatly by Rend Lake," says McCann. "I have retained the values
that came from my small Midwestern town upbringing, while
appreciating the differences in people as a part of our bigger
Joyce A. Nicklas
Director of quality care management, OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center
Kishwaukee College (1981)
Nicklas always wanted to be a nurse. As a 24-year-old widow with
two children to support, "Kishwaukee was at my doorstep to assist
in making education accessible," she says. The training she
received allowed her to lead Rockford Health System's successful
accreditation in 1998. In her new post, she continues to practice the
community-based nursing skills that she learned at Kishwaukee.
Kimberla Lawson Roby
Author / Novelist
Rock Valley College (1987)
Unable to find a publisher for her first novel, Roby quit her full-
time job and self-published 10,000 copies. The printing was so
successful that Behind Closed Doors remained at #1 on the
Blackboard African-American Bestseller's List for four consecutive
months. "From a career standpoint, my office technology/business
education made not just some, but basically all the difference in
founding my own business; my ability to speak to small and large
audience; and having the skills necessary to write novels year after
year," Roby says.
Dr. Julia A. Schroeder
Vice president for instruction, John A. Logan College
John A. Logan College (1974)
A former high school math teacher, Schroeder has earned many
accolades during her career, including National Science
Foundation Presidential Award nominations in 1987 and 1988. "I
acquired confidence and a 'can-do-it' attitude because of the
instructors at Logan who believed in me," she says. Another source
of pride: Though her parents never finished middle school, both of
Schroeder's daughters attended Logan.
Retired registered nurse / teacher
Spoon River College (1964)
Taylor was the second family member to earn a high school
diploma and the first to receive a college degree. Retired after two
successful careers, she is a highly-sought volunteer who has been
honored by the Canton YWCA and Fulton/McDonough Mental
Health Center. In 1997 she was elected to SRC's board. "All of
this was made possible by my fortunate and strong beginning at
Spoon River," says Taylor.
Marilyn C. Turner
Executive director, Family Health Society, Inc.
Moraine Valley Community College (1982)
A naturalized American of African descent, Turner moved to
Chicago from Panama after a fire destroyed her family's home.
"When I started at Moraine Valley, everything was so new --
including the language," she says. "I credit the community college
for helping me become what I am today. As executive director and
founder of a community clinic for the uninsured and underinsured,
I am able to assist others to live a healthy and better life."
Ray W. Vaughn
Olney Central College (1977)
Vaughn's successful law practice has not stopped him from giving
back to his community. As president of the college foundation, he
was instrumental in establishing soccer fields on campus that serve
over 400 children. "As a lifelong resident of Olney, I did not
recognize the importance of OCC to the community," Vaughn
says. "I took the college for granted. Now, having been engaged in
business for 19 years, I realize OCC is critical to the long-term
progress of Olney, Richland County and the surrouding area."
Staff scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Kaskaskia College (1983)
With 47 publications, 43 invited talks, 76 seminars, and 15
marathons to her credit, Vogt is a true Renaissance woman in the
male-dominated field of nuclear physics. Currently visiting
Denmark's Bohr Institute as a Rosenberg Fellow, she notes that
"my studies at KC prepared me well for the challange of the
university environment, and my career since then has been built on
the firm foudnation of my education at KC."
Dwight A. Werts
President / CEO, Werts Welding & Tank Service, Inc.
Lewis and Clark Community College (1973)
Thanks to training received at Lewis and Clark, Werts was able to
take over his father's truck-repair business in 1994 and expand it to
a nationwide, $10 million corporation. He has brought similar
success to the college's foundation, where he chaired its annual
auction in 1997 and raised $110,000, the highest amount to date.
"The benefits of my education are more easily viewed 30 years
later," Werts notes.
Standish E. Willis
Attorney / Partner, People's Law Firm
Malcolm X College (1968)
A former gang leader, Willis has distinguished himself as a
dedicated human-rights advocate within the criminal justice
system. Many of his civil-rights suits have resulted in significant
changes in case law and institutional practices. In fact, one of his
earliest causes was the renaming of then-Crane Junior College as
Malcolm X College. "My experiences at Malcolm X demonstrated
to me that every man and woman's voice makes a difference in the
struggle for human rights," Willis says.
James E. Zimmer
U.S. director of marketing and technology, Monsanto Company
Lake Land College (1983)
The value of Zimmer's Lake Land education became evident in
1992, when he was aggressively recruited by Monsanto despite a
company policy that required a bachelor's degree for his position.
Subsequent "Rookie of the Year" and "Best in Class" honors have
only enhanced his reputation at Monsanto, where he now oversees
pricing, trade agreements, and budgeting for biotechnology and
crop protection products. "Today, whenever possible, I take time to
show an interest in others around me and provide them with the
same type of support that I received from Lake Land's ag faculty,"
The statewide recipient of the 2001 Distinguished Alumnus Award will be announced at
ICCTA's annual banquet on Friday, June 15, at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago.
For additional information, please contact
Kim Villanueva at 217-528-2858, ext. 1.
Illinois Community College Trustees Association|
401 E. Capitol Ave., Suite 200
Springfield, IL 62701-1711
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