ICCTA Pacesetter Award
Lynette M. Gage
Advocate for persons with disabilities
Southwestern Illinois College (1999)
Lynette Gage's story is distinguished by her
perseverance in the face of overwhelming physical odds.
At the age of 10, she was thrown from a horse and sustained a brain injury
that left her in a coma for three months. Partially paralyzed and unable to speak,
she had to re-learn many basic movements, including swallowing, sitting and walking.
Her experiences have led her to become a national voice for people with disabilities.
"Because I understand what life is like both before and after disability, I know what
it is like to be different and how other people's attitudes affect one's self-esteem,"
Lynette Gage (left) accepts
her Pacesetter Award from
ICCTA past president Linden Warfel.
"In my public speaking, I encourage people to realize that the difficulties we face in
life are intended to make us better, not bitter," says Gage, who was named one of the
state's 10 Outstanding Young People by the Illinois Jaycees last year.
Gage notes that Southwestern Illinois College provided a sense of "community and
partnership" upon her transfer from the University of New Mexico in 1993. "Southwestern
provided the environment, the transition support team, and an extended family that
guided, nurtured and encouraged me.
"Because of my disability, I had to take fewer credits per semester, and it took me
eight years to complete all the requirements for my associate's degree," says Gage,
who received her associate degree from SWIC in December 1999. "I like to tell people
that I got my degree in three terms . . . Reagan, Bush and Clinton!"
Today, Gage regularly speaks to educators, civic clubs, and youth groups about
disability awareness. More than 2,000 area students have heard her motivational
comments about success and self-esteem.
A 1996 graduate of Partners in Policymaking, an eight-month leadership training program
for advocates, she is also a member of the Speakers Bureau for the Illinois Council on
Gage's volunteer efforts also include serving as vice president of the O'Fallon Jaycees
chapter and as a greeter, usher, and member of the hospitality committee of St. Clare
Church. In addition, she sits on the boards of the Victorious Missionaries and the
Mounted Miracles, a therapeutic riding program.
Outside of the advocacy arena, Gage works as an instructional aide at Marie Schaefer
Middle School and as an aerobics instructor for active older adults at the O'Fallon YMCA.
"Whether in the classroom, at a local, state or national meeting, or in her church,
Ms. Gage represents the finest ideals of the community college system," said Nick J.
Mance, chair of the SWIC Board of Trustees.
For additional information on ICCTA's Pacesetter
Award, 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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