INA, Ill. (April 27, 2016) – Thirty-five students enrolled in Rend Lake College’s STARS (Student Transfer and Retention Support) program were honored during the 19th Annual Recognition Ceremony last night in the James “Hummer” Waugh Gymnasium. During the ceremony, members of the program receive awards and scholarships for successful year of hard work.
The ceremony opened with Betty Jo Herbert, RLC Director of Nursing and keynote speaker, who encouraged the graduates and continuing STARS students to continue to learn, grow, and change in the years to come.
“Change is always a struggle. The end of one thing becomes the beginning of something else. I encourage you – don’t stop your growth,” said Herbert. “The ability to change is paramount and education is the key to that change. Life is a journey and the joy is in the journey.”
After Herbert’s speech, all STARS members of Phi Theta Kappa, the national community college scholastic honor fraternity, were recognized by standing. Those students included Shelby Collins (Bluford), Emily Culbreth (Benton), Brittany Goldsberry (Benton), Brittany Lomax (Mt. Vernon), Joshua Miller (Ina), Maude Wheeler (McLeansboro), and Mariam Ziehm (Dahlgren). Students were also recognized for being grant aid recipients before the awards portion of the ceremony began.
New Student Awards
Though several RLC students were accepted into the STARS program in the Spring 2016 semester, only one – Manesha Long of Mt. Vernon – was in attendance during the banquet. The other students are Meghan Clark (Royalton), Casey Garrett (Benton), and Michelle Ort (Sesser).
The Perseverance Award is given to students who demonstrate determination in successfully completing their classes, often while overcoming difficult circumstances. This year, ten students were honored with this award, and they are pictured below.
GPA 3.00 to 3.49
A dozen students ended their Fall 2015 semester with a cumulative grade point average (GPA) between 3.00 and 3.49. Those attending the ceremony are pictured below. Not pictured was Shelbi Ballard (Mt. Vernon), Autumn Byrn (Royalton), Sierra Calloni (Mulkeytown), Haley Cash (West Frankfort), Kyndal Chambers (McLeansboro), Breanna Davis (Zeigler), Tia Davis (Benton), Walter Douglas (Sesser), Shania Ellis (Mt. Vernon), Brice Franklin (Mulkeytown), Brady Householder (Thompsonville), Joshua Miller (Ina), Sharon Mills (West Frankfort), Shelby Mitchell (Woodlawn), Samantha Riddle (Mt. Vernon), and Mia Simms (Ewing).
GPA 3.50 – 3.99
Another ten STARS students completed the Fall 2015 semester with a cumulative GPA between 3.50 and 3.99. Those attending the ceremony are pictured below. Not pictured was Shelby Collins (Bluford), Brandon Cook (Benton), Emily Culbreth (Benton), Jesse Dickey (McLeansboro), Christina Parr (McLeansboro), Tori Pasley (Bluford), Kenzie Rankin (Mt. Vernon), Alyssa Russell (Broughton), and Laci Zeidler (Pinckneyville).
Only a handful of STARS students earned a cumulative 4.0 GPA at the end of the Fall 2015 semester, and for their hard work, they were honored with certificates during the ceremony. Those attending the event are pictured below. Not pictured was Alexa Beavers (West Frankfort) and Jacqueline Kellerman (Oakdale).
Twenty-eight STARS students were honored as graduates from RLC. These students graduated in the Fall of 2015 or will graduate in the Spring or Summer 2016. Those attending the ceremony are pictured below. Not pictured is Victoria Baird (Mt. Vernon), Sierra Calloni (Mulkeytown), Emily Culbreth (Benton), Shania Ellis (Mt. Vernon), Casey Fitzpatrick (McLeansboro), Jordan Gunter (Valier), Brady Householder (Thompsonville), Jacqueline Kellerman (Oakdale), Matthew Kennedy (Woodlawn), Crystal Knisley (Thompsonville), Joshua Miller (Ina), Christina Parr (McLeansboro), Kenzie Rankin (Mt. Vernon), Samantha Riddle (Mt. Vernon), Kaelyn Sandy (Mt. Vernon), Achaia Shipp (Centralia), Megan Simmons (Benton), Tyree Trimble (Mt. Vernon), and Laci Zeidler (Pinckneyville).
George Cybulski Scholarship Award
The George Cybulski Scholarship Award is named in honor of the late George Cybulski, an 81-year-old RLC student who had a dream to go back to school and earn a degree. The award is given annually to a dedicated student. Skylyn Simpson of Sesser, who plans to continue her education to become a teacher, was the recipient of the 2016 Cybulski Award.
STAR of the Year Award
The STAR of the Year Award is voted on by the STARS staff every year and is given to a student who exemplifies dedication to the program, hard work in the classroom, and great communication skills. Chris Richard of Mulkeytown was honored as the Star of the Year.
The STARS program is a federally funded program designed to provide participants with the support services they need to successfully complete an associate degree and transfer to a four-year college or university. Eligibility requirements include meeting low-income guidelines, being a first-generation college student (meaning neither parent graduated from a four-year university) or having a documented disability. The program serves 160 students each year. The goal of STARS is to increase the college retention and graduation rates of its participants and help students make the transition from one level of higher education to the next.
For more information about the STARS program, visit Leah Stallman in the South Oasis, Rom 108, call 618-437-5321, Ext. 1366 or email[email protected] .