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Student Success at Prairie State College Illustrates College’s Commitment to Students

Student Success at Prairie State College Illustrates College’s Commitment to Students [06/06/2016]

By Dr. Terri L. Winfree, President, Prairie State College

Dr. Terri L. WinfreeStudents begin their college careers at community colleges for a variety reasons. Some see the economic benefit of completing their first few years in college at a fraction of what it would cost to get the same courses completed at a four-year college or university. Others choose to pursue career programs with the intent to start working right after completing those programs. Still others will return to college after working for many years with the desire to change careers. A community college can serve many purposes to the students in the community that it serves, and takes pride in each and every student that achieves the goals that they came to the campus hoping to achieve.

PSC recently celebrated its 57th annual commencement ceremony, and we were able to reflect on the many successes that PSC students achieved throughout the year. PSC is pleased to present programming and opportunities for students that support them in their academic endeavors. It would be difficult to mention all of the successes our students had throughout the entire academic year, but here are some of the more recent highlights.

Seven of our graduates were awarded and accepted full-tuition scholarships to Governors State University (GSU) through the Dual Degree Program (DDP). The Dual Degree Program is a unique partnership between GSU and PSC and several other Chicagoland community colleges. Students receive academic advising from both institutions to complete an associate and a bachelor’s degree in a minimum number of terms, an opportunity to participate in social and cultural activities at both institutions, and an opportunity to apply for the full-tuition scholarships. Receiving the GSU Promise Scholarship were Terrence Dillon, Antoine Hawkins, Kara Stewart, Danielle Terry and Romelia Winters. Recipients of the GSU Honors Scholarship Maria Hilary Hardt and Kristin Poortenga.

Graduate Juan Cazares recently was named one of only 20 high school and college students to receive the 2016 Dr. Juan Andrade Scholarship for Young Hispanic Leaders. Cazares was presented his award during the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute’s 34th Annual National Conference, held at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers in Chicago. He is only the second PSC student to be recognized with the award. Cazares plans to continue his education studying international business.

During the recent Phi Rho Pi national speech tournament, PSC Speech Team members and graduating students Daniel Blewitt and Patrick Sheard brought home national honors for prose performance. Sheard received bronze and Blewitt was named the national champion. In addition, out of the 42 schools in the small school division, the PSC team placed 11th. These awards are the most recent among the many the speech team members have brought back to PSC from the various competitions throughout the year. Participating in the speech team provides students with the opportunity to improve their speaking skills while participating in intercollegiate competition. Both Sheard and Blewitt plan to put the skills they have learned to work on the speech team at Illinois State University in the fall.

Several PSC students participated in the Skyway STEM conference at Waubonsee Community College. Tanier Taylor and Nnebuhe Maraizu came in first for their poster presentation, “Synthesis and Characterization of Copper Noctine Acid and Nicotineamide.” During this year’s Skyway Writer’s Competition earlier this semester, graduating PSC student and GSU Promise Scholarship recipient Danielle Terry received third place in the drama and screenplay category for her play, “Don’t Say Nappy.”

Rachael Brooks was named PSC’s representative on the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society All-Illinois Academic Team for 2016. Students from community colleges in Illinois are nominated each year for academic achievement as well as involvement on campus and in their communities. Brooks plans to continue her education studying computer science.

Casey Shelton, a member of PSC’s chapter of the National Technical Honor Society (NTHS), was selected as a 2016 Jon H. Poteat Scholarship recipient, offered through the NTHS. Shelton is the only Illinois college student named a recipient of the scholarship this year. Shelton is pursuing a career in electrical engineering.

The successes of these students, among the many others not mentioned here, are reflective of the values of PSC and our commitment to the students in our community. Whatever their reasons for choosing a community college, we are happy to see where their educational journey is taking them, and are proud to have been a part of it.