ICCTA Pacesetter Award

2002 Nominees

Raymond J. Connolly
Adjunct faculty, welding technology program
Southwestern Illinois College
Southwestern Illinois College (2000)

As a Southwestern student, Connolly won the gold medal in the 1999 International Welding Skills Competition in Montreal. Today he works with businesses to train their employees and has traveled to Ireland and Korea to coach expert welders for competitions. "I've had great teachers myself, so now I have a lot to offer," Connolly says. "I hope to do for my students what Southwestern has done for me."

Charles E. Ashby
Graduate student, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
John A. Logan College (2000)

Ashby served as pastor of several Chicago churches before returning to college in his 50s. He has earned two bachelor's degrees since leaving Logan and is pursuing his master's and doctoral degrees in social work. "Without the education I received at JALC, I would have never been able to fulfill my dream and would still be wandering around trying to find my real place in this world," he says.

Christine Caplinger-Gillespie
Student, Rush Medical College
Oakton Community College (1997)

Caplinger-Gillespie explains, "The decision to return to school was an easy one to make. I was just informed by my then-husband that he was going to pursue a divorce. . . . I knew that my earning potential was not sufficient to support my toddler and myself. School was the only logical choice." She has since gone on to graduate with honors from Oakton and Elmhurst College and anticipates her medical degree in 2004.

Sarah "Sally" Compton
Legislative aide
State Sen. Judith A. Myers
Danville Area Community College (2001)

When her marriage ended, Compton knew she needed to improve her job skills to support herself in her new life. "I soon realized that returning to school was the best thing I could have done," she recalls. "I never doubted that each of my instructors wished to see me succeed nearly as much as I did." One of those DACC instructors even helped Compton find her current staff position with Sen. Myers.

Christine Griffin-Welch
Blanchfield Doherty Peterson
Moraine Valley Community College (1999)

Griffin-Welch served as Moraine Valley's student trustee from 1998 to 1999. After transferring to St. Xavier University, she earned her bachelor's degree in accounting in less than a year – despite new professional standards that forced her to take 60 credit hours in three semesters. "I know that the paths and journeys that have been made available to me through the community college will always give me a rich and fulfilling life," she says.

Brandon Feller
Student, University of Illinois at Springfield
Wireless expert, Barbeck Communications
Richland Community College (2000)

At 18, Feller was the youngest legislative aide in the state. His 2001 election to the Richland board now makes him one of the youngest trustees in the country. "I had no loyalty to RCC before I attended," Feller admits. "Having attended classes, participated in student government, graduated and been elected to the board, I can honestly say that Richland is one of the greatest things in my life and the direction of my career."

Greg Hollmann
Site coordinator, afterschool primetime programs
Greater Atlanta YMCA
Rend Lake College (1999)

Hollmann served as student trustee and Student Senate president during his years at Rend Lake. He also tutored sixth-graders as part of the college's AmeriCorps service program -- an experience that has led him to pursue a career working with at-risk youth. "Just as in that year at AmeriCorps, I continue to see the challenges and rewards for working with children, just hoping that my efforts are making even the smallest of differences," says Hollmann.

Kenneth Ingersoll
Community policing officer
Centralia Police Department
Kaskaskia College (1997)

Named "2001 Officer of the Year" by his department, Ingersoll organized the city's Community Policing Division and serves as school resource officer for all of Centralia's schools. A self-described "average student in high school with uncertain plans," Ingersoll is completing his master's degree in education and eventually plans to teach law enforcement at a police academy or community college. "Furthering my education has instilled confidence in all areas of my life," he says.

Jennifer Jossendal
History instructor
Kishwaukee College
Kishwaukee College (1998)

"Long before I graduated, I told then President Jenkins that I desired nothing more than to finish my higher degrees and return to the place I loved best – Kishwaukee," says Jossendal, who is completing her PhD in history. Her resolve was tested when she was forced to choose between a much-needed graduate assistantship and a part-time teaching position at Kishwaukee. She chose Kishwaukee. "I could not imagine myself teaching anywhere else," she says.

Matt Pedersen
Executive senior multimedia director
Infotube, Inc.
College of Lake County (2000)

Pedersen enrolled at CLC with the hopes of opening his own fish hatchery. But after taking an HTML computer course, his focus changed to multimedia communications. Only two years after graduation, Pedersen has won six awards for web-site design and recently started his own consulting company, FlashStatistics LLC. "My life could have turned out any number of different ways, but I'm grateful for the path CLC helped me find," Pedersen says.

Diane Stredde
Public relations associate
The Larkin Center
Elgin Community College (1998)

After an injury derailed her dream of becoming a music teacher, Stredde went to ECC "to finish my degree and to see what doors might open for me." Although she had operated her own business and volunteered for several local charities, she says that "once I obtained my degree, I discovered a new confidence that allowed me to seek positions I might not have thought about otherwise." In 2000 Larkin was honored by the YWCA of Elgin for her advocacy of the Larkin Center, which serves children and young adults with special needs.