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Laker Nation News

Lake Land Named One of Illinois’ Best Community Colleges by Intelligent.com

Posted on December 8, 2023

An image of an award that recognizes Lake Land as one of the best community colleges in Illinois.

Intelligent.com recently named Lake Land College as one of Illinois’ top 10 community colleges for 2024. In its annual assessment of higher education programs, Intelligent.com honors affordable, highly-regarded schools that equip their students with the resources needed to successfully graduate and excel in their fields.

In the report, Intelligent.com praised Lake Land College for its flexibility in preparing students for immediate employment or transfer through a wide variety of program offerings that range from eight weeks to two years. The report also recognized unique programs such as Crime Scene Technician, Court Reporting and Captioning, Geospatial Technology, IT-Computer Game Production, Livestock Production and John Deere Tech that expand the career possibilities for students.

“It is a great honor to receive this recognition from Intelligent’s rankings,” Lake Land College President Josh Bullock said. “As we implement our Growing the Laker Advantage strategic plan, it is exciting to see tangible evidence that our efforts in demonstrating student-first values continue to reinforce our status as a top community college destination within the state.”

To see the full assessment and rankings from Intelligent.com, visit https://www.intelligent.com/best-community-colleges/illinois/#lake_land_college.

To become a Lake Land College student and apply for the spring semester, visit https://www.lakelandcollege.edu/enroll/.


St. Louis Cardinals Caravan Coming to Lake Land

Posted on November 17, 2023

Lake Land College will host the St. Louis Cardinals Caravan at noon on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024 in the Lake Land College Field House.

This event gives fans the opportunity to interact with members of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, including current and former players, broadcast talents and other familiar faces. Children 15-years-old and younger will also receive one autograph from each current and former player in attendance at the event.

Doors will open at the Field House at 11 a.m. with the event beginning at 12 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person, and admission includes two hot dogs, a drink and chips.

Tickets for the event can be purchased in advance at the Lake Land College Field House Athletics Office or at Washington Savings Bank in Mattoon. Tickets will also be available at the door on the day of the event.

No preferred seating will be available.

The event is sponsored by Lake Land College Athletics and Mattoon High School Baseball.

For more information, visit lakelandathletics.prestosports.com/landing/index or call 217-234-5333.


Lake Land Holds Celebratory Luncheon for National Apprenticeship Week

Posted on November 16, 2023

In honor of National Apprenticeship Week, Lake Land College held a celebratory luncheon to recognize business partnerships and apprentice accomplishments.

The event began with a declaration of National Apprenticeship Week from Lake Land College President Josh Bullock. Robert Woolum, apprentice program supervisor at North American Lighting, provided the event’s keynote address.

The celebration also included a panel of apprentices and business partners. All apprentices in attendance who had enrolled at Lake Land College since November 2022 were honored with a celebratory signing in recognition of their commitment to apprenticeship. The following apprentices and their respective employers participated in the signing.

Apprentice Company
Logan Blackburn Hydro-Gear
Allie Sharp Montessori Kids Universe of Effingham
Hadley Seaton North American Lighting
Mahayla Bryant 3 Sisters Logistics, LLC
Chase Hollingsworth 3 Sisters Logistics, LLC

“It is such an incredible honor to celebrate our apprentices and the success of our ‘Earn and Learn’ programs,” said Bonnie Moore, director to the Center for Business and Industry. “The opportunity that apprenticeship brings to our students and our business partners is a true recipe for success. We are so very proud of our apprentices, our apprenticeship programs and the Laker Advantage that apprenticeships provide to our communities.”

To learn more about Lake Land’s apprenticeship programs, contact Moore at 217-238-8260 or bmoore71258@lakelandcollege.edu.


Lake Land Holds Celebration for Veterans

Posted on November 10, 2023

Lake Land College honored Veterans with a celebration on Wednesday, Nov. 8. The event began with a Laying of the Wreath Ceremony at the Veterans Wall in Podesta Park on Lake Land’s campus.

Transportation Training Coordinator and Marine Corps Veteran Justin Onigkeit served as the emcee, introducing Mattoon High School Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets for the wreath-laying ceremony.

The event continued in the Luther Student Center, where the Lake Land College Student Activity Board provided refreshments for those in attendance. Students, staff and faculty also signed thank you cards for Veterans throughout the Lake Land community.

The event also included the premiere of a video that spotlights several of the Veterans who have found a home at Lake Land College. The video can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AB_CiS6Esx0.

“It is such a humbling experience to be able to honor our Veterans with a special ceremony and event,” said Dustha Wahls, director of human resources. “We appreciate the sacrifices they made for our country and the contributions they bring to the Lake Land College community.”

The Veterans Ceremony is one of many ways that Lake Land seeks to provide support and demonstrate appreciation for the many Veterans throughout the community. This semester, the new Veterans lounge opens in the campus library. To learn more about the services Lake Land offers to Veterans and active duty military personnel, visit https://www.lakelandcollege.edu/financialaid/programs-provided-for-veterans-active-duty-military-personnel-and-families/.


2023 Non-Traditional Student of the Year Award Recipients and Nominees

Posted on

Lake Land College presented the Non-traditional Student of the Year Award to Natashia Carter and Rebecca Ennis during a ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 7. Carter and Ennis were among 10 nominees who were honored for their perseverance and outstanding determination in pursuing their academic goals and following their dreams.

The nominees were: Nicole Martin, Greenup; Cynthia Heiman, Pana; Noella Kasera, Democratic Republic of Congo; Tierra Rowland, Humboldt; Blessing Nzeribe, Nigeria; Holly Cornell, Montrose; Austin Babb, Lerna; and Darrius Frazier, Charleston.

“The individuals we honor this evening are a special group of people. Their paths to be here today have not always been easy, yet you would never know it,” said Kelly Allee, director of marketing and public relations. “Their positive attitudes and determination inspire everyone around them. We are thankful for the opportunity to celebrate their many past accomplishments and anticipate their bright futures.”

Carter is a non-traditional student from Mattoon and attends Lake Land after reshaping her life by overcoming addiction. She quickly settled in at Lake Land and grew to become a leader among her peers. She serves as a tutor, leads major projects as the president of PTK, volunteers her time to support foster families and advocates for mental health by using her story to inspire others. She is seeking a degree in human services to work in counseling and help others face the same struggles she overcame.

In the nomination form, Tessa Wiles said, “Tashia leads by example with great enthusiasm and strength. She appreciates every day, which shines through in her leadership.”

Casey Reynolds said of her, “She makes us, as a college, better with her dedication to everything she does.”

Ennis is a non-traditional student from Charleston and is pursuing a degree in psychology after years of putting her education on hold to focus on her family’s needs. Now, she balances the responsibilities of being both a student and the caregiver of her husband and mother, who are both battling cancer. Even with these challenges, she remains steadfast in earning her education and completing her academic goals. She is an outstanding student who consistently performs at the highest level. She is also a talented self-published author and received the 2023 Illinois State Paul Simon Scholarship Award for her powerful essay on how community college changed her life.

In the nomination form, Joy Kaurin said, “She could easily make excuses with the various challenges that have arisen. Instead of stepping aside, she has chosen to push forward. She has become a point of inspiration to her children as they see her pursue college at this stage of life.”

Nicole Martin is a non-traditional student from Greenup and was nominated by Megan Nelson, marketing publication and design coordinator. She is pursuing a degree in nursing and returns to Lake Land after putting her academic goals on hold nearly 20 years ago to focus on her family.

In the nomination form, Nelson said, “Nicole is a caring, compassionate and confident leader and a cherished mentor to those around her. I am certain she will carry that into her career in nursing after Lake Land.”

Cynthia Heiman is from Pana and studies at Lake Land in the BNA program. She was nominated by Constance Ricky, Allied Health instructor. She has balanced many responsibilities in her path to success in the BNA program, as she is also a mother and full-time employee.

In the nomination form, Ricky said, “She is an excellent student who gives her whole heart in the classroom. Her classmates love her and the residents she cares for adore her. She is going to make an amazing CNA.”

Noella Kasera comes to Lake Land from the Democratic Republic of Congo to study criminal justice. She was nominated by Denver Daniels, coordinator of international studies program. Noella embraces the challenges of being a student in a foreign country in addition to the responsibilities of being a recent single mother.

In the nomination form, Daniels said, “Her tenacity, willingness to succeed and intelligence is exactly what we think of when we, as a college, consider non-traditional students. She has absolutely impacted the small community of international students here for the better.”

Tierra Rowland is a non-traditional student who is majoring in human services. She was nominated by Lydia Craig, adjunct faculty humanities division. In addition to her academic responsibilities, Tierra raises a daughter who has had a different disability since birth. Tierra said her daughter is an incredible, joyous gift who inspires her to be the best version of herself.

In the nomination form, Craig said, “Tierra is unequivocally her own person. She is courageous, positive and hilarious. Because of her determination, kindness and passion, she instantly sprang to mind when I considered a nomination for the non-traditional student award.”

Blessing Nzeribe comes to Lake Land from Nigeria to study nursing. She was nominated by Kim Hunter, director to student success services. Blessing has faced many obstacles associated with pursuing a degree while also navigating a foreign country. Still, she has risen above these challenges with an incredible determination and commitment to her studies.

In the nomination form, Hunter said, “Blessing has done so much while being an ocean away from her family and hundreds of miles from the friends she made when she first came to the U.S. She is really a credit to what constitutes the Laker Spirit.”

Holly Cornell is a non-traditional student from Montrose and is pursuing a degree in early childcare education. She was nominated by Lori Ohnesorge, director of Trio programs. Holly balances her duties as a student with her responsibilities as a mother, consistently putting her best efforts forward in school while also pouring her heart into supporting her family.

In the nomination form, Ohnesorge said, “Holly is a well-rounded student who has great abilities to serve her family and those around her. She has the biggest heart and is kind to anyone she meets. I look forward to seeing the impact she will make in her future with her great talents.”

Darrius Frazier is from Charleston and is studying IT computer applications at Lake Land College. He has shown remarkable resilience in overcoming an Asperger’s diagnosis to accomplish his academic goals. He has earned two Associate degrees from Lake Land already in radio/TV broadcasting and geospatial technology.

At Lake Land, he is involved in two honor societies, Phi Theta Kappa and the National Society of Leadership and Success. He is an active member of campus, participating in the IT club, the Vibe, the broadcast communications club, the Navigator News and the diversity & inclusion team.

Austin Babb is a non-traditional student in Lake Land’s Paramedical Services Program. She was nominated by Jasmine Ballard, emergency services program coordinator. Austin is originally from Sullivan and now lives in Lerna with her husband and children. She works full time as an EMT while also keeping up with the demands of being both a student and a mother.

In the nomination form, Ballard said, “Austin is compassionate with her patients and knowledgeable in her industry. When she finishes class, she will be a great provider and mentor to fellow providers as well as a wonderful teacher to students.”


Award nominees posing for group photo with Lake Land College president
Lake Land College recognized the 2023 Non-traditional Student of the Year Award winners and nominees. Pictured (Left to Right) are: Holly Cornell, Cynthia Heiman, Noella Kasera, Rebecca Ennis, Lake Land College President Josh Bullock, Tierra Rowland, Natashia Carter, Blessing Nzeribe, Darrius Frazier, Nicole Martin and Austin Babb.
Lake Land College president with award recipient
Pictured (Left to Right) are Lake Land College President Josh Bullock and Non-traditional Student of the Year award recipient Rebecca Ennis.
Lake Land College president with award recipient
Pictured (Left to Right) are Lake Land College President Josh Bullock and Non-traditional Student of the Year award recipient Natashia Carter.













Lake Land Holds Día de los Muertos Celebration

Posted on November 6, 2023

Lake Land College held a Día de los Muertos celebration on Wednesday, Nov. 1 in the Luther Student Center. During the event, Lake Land students experienced an authentic celebration of the holiday complete with activities, food and even a showing of the movie “Coco” in the campus theater.

Día de los Muertos, commonly known as “Day of the Dead,” is a two-day holiday widely observed in Mexico on Nov. 1 and 2. During these days, families create ofrendas to honor deceased loved ones with photos, bright flowers and the favorite foods and drinks of the departed. The offerings are believed to encourage loved ones to visit from the land of the dead to reunite with the living and join in the celebrations.

“It’s so exciting to be able to offer this event to our students,” said Mercury Bowen, coordinator of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. “It’s really important for us to be intentional about giving all students a chance to be represented in our campus culture and through the actions we take as a college. Being able to see so many students enjoy an authentic experience like this is such a rewarding feeling.”

The Día de los Muertos celebration is just one of many initiatives Lake Land College has taken to uphold an inclusive culture and celebrate the many diverse perspectives throughout the campus. The college will next hold a celebration of International Education Week on Wednesday, Nov. 15 at 11 a.m.

To learn more about these ongoing events and celebrations, visit https://www.lakelandcollege.edu/celebrations/.


Aspen Institute Names Lake Land as a Top 150 U.S. Community College

Posted on October 31, 2023

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program named Lake Land College as one of the top 150 community colleges in the nation. This is the sixth time Lake Land College has received this recognition. The institutions selected for this honor stand out among more than 1,000 community colleges nationwide as having high and improving levels of student success as well as equitable outcomes for Black and Hispanic students and those from lower-income backgrounds.

“I am so proud of our Lake Land College community for receiving this incredible honor from the Aspen Institute,” Lake Land College President Josh Bullock said. “As we progress in implementing our Growing the Laker Advantage Strategic Plan, it is remarkable to know that our commitment to student success has garnered national recognition. The fact that this is our college’s sixth consecutive nomination is a testament to the collective dedication of our faculty, staff and trustees in upholding a student-first culture throughout our campus.”

The Aspen Prize spotlights exemplary community colleges in order to drive attention to colleges achieving post-graduate success for all students, and is a central way Aspen researches highly effective student success strategies that are shared with the field.

“The Aspen Prize is rooted first and foremost in an assessment of whether colleges are walking the walk,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “As community colleges face enrollment variations, enroll students with pandemic-related learning loss, and graduate students into a rapidly changing labor market, it is easy to lose track of what matters most.  The best community colleges are continuing to focus on advancing the core mission: making sure as many students as possible graduate with credentials that lead to fulfilling careers and reflect the development of diverse talent that communities, states, and our nation need.”

While community colleges are an essential contributor to our nation’s success, student outcomes vary substantially among institutions.  Aspen measures those variances using multiple data sources and honors colleges with outstanding achievement in six critical areas: teaching and learning, certificate and degree completion, transfer and bachelor’s attainment, workforce success, equitable access to the college, and equitable outcomes for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds.

“These 150 colleges have achieved high and improving levels of student success for all students, including those who are often failed by our institutions,” Wyner said. “We’re excited to learn over the coming months how they achieved that success so we can share the most impressive practices with others in the field.”

For more information, visit aspeninstitute.org.

To learn more about Lake Land College, visit lakelandcollege.edu.


Announcing New Partnership with Rural King Scholarship Program

Posted on October 30, 2023

Rural King Farm & Home Store recently announced the launch of its new scholarship program, designed to empower and support aspiring students in pursuit of higher education. This program is part of a larger education initiative which focuses on providing avenues for continued education, growth, and professional development for Rural King associates and, in this case, their dependents.

The Rural King Scholarship Program is comprised of scholarship opportunities with two exceptional partners, Eastern Illinois University and Lake Land College. Both organizations will be offering in- person and online scholarships providing unique educational opportunities to Rural King associates and their dependents who meet the eligibility criteria across all 130+ locations companywide.

RK Foundation Director Amy Shafer states, “It’s a privilege to provide educational opportunities to our associates and their families through the Rural King Scholarship Program. Ultimately, it’s because of their dedication to serving our customers that we’re in the position to do this, and we’re excited to walk alongside them in this journey. Rural King has called Mattoon home for over 60 years, and we are very fortunate to have two great institutions, EIU and Lake Land, right here in Coles County. We are confident they will provide a great academic experience to our Rural King family. This program is an investment in the future of our people and our company. It is our hope, that through nurturing their talent, we’re helping to create future leaders who will make meaningful impact in their communities.”

Eastern Illinois University and Rural King will be offering three types of scholarships: local scholarships, online scholarships, and full-ride scholarships.

“This partnership builds on the longstanding commitment of Rural King and Eastern Illinois University to the region,” said Jay Gatrell, president of Eastern Illinois University. “EIU is proud to have helped educate and train generations of students for Rural King careers, and we’re excited to continue that strong tradition through this innovative new partnership.”

Those employees who attend Lake Land College will be eligible for scholarships worth up to the full cost of attendance.

“Lake Land College is honored to expand our partnership with Rural King with this new scholarship initiative. This is an incredible opportunity for Rural King employees and their families. We applaud and thank Rural King’s leadership team for their commitment to provide education and training that will undoubtedly develop new generations of local leaders and provide pathways for social mobility and economic growth throughout the region,” Lake Land College President Dr. Josh Bullock said. “We look forward to welcoming Rural King employees and their families to Lake Land College and to assisting them in reaching their goals.”

To apply for scholarship opportunities at either institution, applicants must be a Rural King associate or their dependent and admitted to the institution of their choice for classes starting in the Fall 2024 semester. For more information about the Rural King Scholarship Program, please visit eiu.edu/RuralKing or lakelandcollege.edu/scholarship-opportunities/.


Recognizing the 2023 Foundation and Alumni Award Recipients

Posted on October 26, 2023

The Lake Land College Foundation recognized the 2023 Foundation and Alumni Award recipients at a reception on Thursday, Oct. 19.

The reception was a celebration of a record-breaking year for the Foundation and an opportunity to recognize individuals and organizations who helped make it possible by going above and beyond in their support of the college. The 2023 Foundation Awards include the Outstanding Philanthropist Award, the Outstanding Philanthropic Organization Award, the Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Award and the Crystal Swan Award.

The Outstanding Philanthropist Award went to Leslie Hill, Mattoon. Patterson Technology Center, Inc. earned the Outstanding Philanthropic Organization Award. The Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Award went to Lisa Kallis, Effingham. Larry Blackerby, Cowden, received the Crystal Swan Award.

“We extend our congratulations to the 2023 Foundation Award recipients,” Executive Director for College Advancement Christi Donsbach said. “The sincere generosity they have demonstrated with the giving of time, talent and financial support is truly humbling, and it is an honor to recognize their dedication to the college.”

During the reception, several additional awards were presented to Lake Land College Alumni and community members in recognition of their service and personal achievement. The Distinguished Alumnus/Alumnus Achievement Award went to Tammy Helm, Humboldt. Kimberlin Michels, Dieterich, received the Pacesetter Award. The Distinguished Service Award went to Shirley Sherwood, Greenup. Five Lake Land alumni were also recognized for being inducted into the Lake Land College Distinguished Alumni Society, including Dyke Barkley, Paris; Carolyn Cloyd, Mattoon; Rachel Grunloh, Effingham; Curt Rincker, Shelbyville; and Jay Westendorf, Teutopolis.

Cheryl Rich, Sullivan, and Cindy Lanman, Charleston, were also honored during the reception for their outstanding achievements and contributions as former Lake Land employees. Rich and Lanman are both 2023 inductees into the Lake Land College Retiree Wall of Fame.

Two board members, Deacon Patient and Micah Dickens, were also recognized during the reception, as both will be rotating off the board of directors with the conclusion of their second term in December of 2023.

“I would like to thank our outgoing board members on their incredible and sincere dedication over the years,” Donsbach said. “The generous devotion of their time, talents and leadership has helped the Foundation experience tremendous growth throughout their service on the board.”

The 2024 Foundation Board slate of officers is comprised of President Rich Hartke, Vice President Renee Huckstead and Secretary Tom White.

For information on the Lake Land College Foundation, visit lakelandcollege.edu/foundation/.


Celebrating Veterans Appreciation Month

Posted on October 23, 2023

Lake Land College is celebrating Veterans Appreciation Month by recognizing and honoring local Veterans throughout the month of November.

During the week of Nov. 6-10, all Veterans throughout the Lake Land community are invited to add a photo from their time of service to a display in the Luther Student Center. Family members and friends are also invited to display a photo of a loved one who served. Picture frames and information cards will be provided. All photos can be picked up at the end of the week.

On Wednesday, Nov. 8, Lake Land will hold a Veterans Ceremony for all staff and student Veterans from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event will begin with a Laying of the Wreath Ceremony and short program at the Veterans Wall in Podesta Park on Lake Land’s campus. The event will then continue in the Luther Student Center, where the Student Activity Board will provide refreshments and activities for those in attendance. The ceremony will conclude with the premiere of a video that spotlights the stories of Veterans throughout the college.

In addition, Veterans can receive free haircuts and dental cleanings from the students in Lake Land’s cosmetology and dental hygiene departments throughout the entire month of November. Appointments for free haircuts are available on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and can be scheduled by contacting the Cosmetology Clinic at 217-234-5300. Appointments for free dental cleanings are available on Mondays and Tuesdays at 12:30 p.m., and Wednesdays and Thursdays at 12 p.m. Each appointment is 3.5 hours and can be scheduled by contacting the Dental Hygiene Clinic at 217-234-5249.