50 Notable Alumni

Jodi Adams

Photographer, Yoga Teacher, and Skydiving Instructor

Fine and Applied Arts

Working professionally as a photographer, yoga teacher, and skydiving instructor, Jodi is passionate about living life to its fullest. Through her art and teaching, she hopes to inspire others to do the same. She believes that when we live an authentic life of creation, we are able to overcome fear ...

Derrick Aikman

Co-Owner, The Bread Company, Urbana, Illinois

Associate in Applied Science


Derrick grew up in Champaign, graduating from Unit 4 schools and serving in the Navy before earning his degree at Parkland College. He says “There is so much pressure to incur a lot of debt and pursue an impractical major at a big university. Instead, what worked best for me was getting a practical ...

Peter B. Alexander

Owner, Peter B’s Automotive, Urbana, Illinois

Associate in Applied Science

Automotive Technology

In 1979, Peter Alexander graduated from Parkland College with an Associate in Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology as well as a certificate in Farm Power and Equipment Service. Several years later, in 1984, he started his own full service automotive business, Peter B’s Automotive in Urban...

Julie Allen

Co-Founder & Marketing Director – Informed Athlete

Associate in Applied Science

Medical Secretarial Sciences

Database Programming, Business Classes and Seminars at Parkland: 1988-1997In 2008, Parkland College alum, Julie Allen, combined her 20+ years of direct and online marketing experience with her husband’s 25+ years NCAA rules expertise and they started InformedAthlete.com, an online based company th...

Josh Bane

Director of Photography, Sticks and Stones Productions, LLC, Denver, Colorado

General Studies

Currently Josh is a freelance Director of Photography and lighting camera operator for both national and international broadcast television shows. He has focused most recently specifically on culinary, cultural, adventure, and travel genres where multiple, cross shooting cameras are a necessary.Re...

Carter Boyce

3D Artist, Shatterglass Studios, Champaign, Illinois

Associates in Applied Arts

Digital Media

Carter Boyce said that “Parkland helped me open the door to my ability to tell a story through film, and opened up my desire to explore different techniques and mediums to tell those stories.”A 2010 graduate of Parkland in the Digital Media program, Carter continued his education at DePaul Univers...

LaTasha Brize

CEO, Extending Hearts Healthcare Staffing Agency; Author

Associate in Applied Science

General Studies; Medical Assistant

From academically struggling college student to medical assistant and now business owner, LaTasha recently chronicled the challenges and triumphs of her scholastic and career journey in a new book, titled Armed with Persistence: The Business Plan. In her self-help guide, LaTasha points to parental i...

Brad Busboom

Brand Executive Manager for Chevrolet

Associate in Applied Science

Automotive Technology

A Unity High School (Tolono, Illinois) graduate, Brad Busboom took automotive courses as dual credit through Parkland's Automotive Youth Education System (AYES) before enrolling at Parkland in 2004 to study Automotive Technology. While at Parkland, he was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Internationa...

Collin Carlier

Chief Operating Officer, Royce & Brinkmeyer Apartment, Champaign, Illinois

Associate in Arts

Business Administration

Collin attended Western Illinois University for one year before returning and enrolling at Parkland College. He did not know where his education would take him, however he knew that Parkland had a great reputation.He was surprised by the quality of context in the education at Parkland. And his nomin...

Mark Carlson

Major League Baseball Umpire

Liberal Arts & Sciences

Mr. Carlson was a graduate of Joliet West High in Joliet, Illinois, where he was a baseball standout. He enrolled at Parkland in the fall of 1987 and played baseball with the Cobras for two years. After leaving Parkland, Mark enrolled in the Joe Brinkman and Bruce Froemming’s Umpire School.Usually t...

Stacey Cole

Director of Development, University of Illinois, College of ACES, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois

Associate in Arts

General Studies

Stacey was working full-time with two part-time jobs when she decided to go back to college as a teenage single mother. She said that “The odds of earning a college degree were certainly stacked against me, especially in the 90s before online classes became what they are today. From the very beginni...

Alyssa Combs

Assistant Vice President, Internal Auditor, First Busey Corporation, Urbana, Illinois

Associates in Science

Business Administration

Alyssa initially enrolled at Parkland to become a Certified Nurse’s Assistant, “And Parkland gave me the opportunity. This was important because through the practical courses and lectures I realized I was not as interested in nursing as a career path as I had originally thought,” she said. So she tu...

Sharon Conatser

National President, The American Legion Auxiliary, National Headquarters, Indianapolis, IN

Associate in Applied Science

Business Administration

Sharon attended Parkland College from 1972 to 1974, graduating in May of 1974 with her associate’s degree in Business Administration, and has used her Parkland experience and education to grow in her personal and professional life.  Retired from the University of Illinois where she served as an...

Bonnie Blair Cruikshank

Motivational Speaker

General Studies

Bonnie Blair Cruikshank grew up in Champaign, Illinois and started skating when she was just two years old, following in the footsteps of her five older brothers and sisters.As a speed skater, Bonnie is the most decorated Winter Olympian in U.S. Olympic history and the winningest American woman in...

Yusak Desyanto

Segment Producer at CBN Indonesia

Associate in Applied Science

Mass Communication/Media Studies

Yusak started at CBN Indonesia in July 2011 as a Researcher and became Segment Producer in 2012. At CBN, he works with a large team of people and collaborates with influential people in Indonesia such as ministers, government officials, intellects, athletes, and artists. He has six years’ of experie...

Steve Eisenmann

Lighting Technical Director at Sony Pictures Imageworks, Vancouver, Canada

Art and Computer Science

The list of accomplishments for Steve Eisenmann is long and illustrious. Steve has worked on the following films: Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2012-2013); Life of Pi (2011-2012), which won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects; Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (2011); Mr. Popper’s Penguins...

Ronald Endsley

Resident Director, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management a Bank of America Corporation, Champaign, Illinois

Business Administration

After graduating from Unity High School in 1964, Ron worked at Eisner Warehouse until he was drafted.  He became a US Army Paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division and served in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division.  When he returned home, he worked at Illinois Power Company an...

Seth Fein

Founder, The Pygmalion Festival + Smile Politely, Champaign, Illinois

Associates in Arts

Liberal Arts and Science

Seth Fein grew up in Urbana, Illinois and is the founder of The Pygmalion Festival, which started in 2005 as a music festival, and now spans five different components, including Tech, Literature, Food, and Media. Additionally, Seth is the founder and publisher of Smile Politely, which is Champa...

Krystal Fitzpatrick

Retired from University of Illinois Police Training Institute

Degree: Associate in Applied Science

Major: Criminal Justice

Taking a county sheriff's advice to enroll at Parkland College, Kris Fitzpatrick made the most of the degree she earned. She was hired at the University of Illinois as a police officer in 1977, one of the first female officers in Champaign County. She advanced over an illustrious 30+ years in law en...

Michelle Gross-Panico

Dental Clinical Practice Consultant with United Healthcare

Accociate in Applied Science

Dental Hygiene

After receiving her degree at Parkland, Michelle continued on to earn her Bachelor of Science degree in Dental Hygiene from Northern Arizona University; a Master of Administration with Emphasis in Health Promotion from Northern Arizona University, and a Doctorate of Health Sciences with Emphasis in ...

Dr. Eric Helfer

Department of Urology, Christie Clinic, Champaign, Illinois

After graduating from Central High School, Eric was unsure of what career he wanted to pursue. With encouragement from his family, he took the aptitude test offered in Parkland’s Career Center and much to his surprise the test indicated he should be in a medical field.Eric enrolled at Parkland that ...

Jeffery B. Hettler

Owner, Five Star Trading, Champaign, Illinois

Associate in Applied Science

Business Administration

After graduating from Parkland in 1982 with an Associate’s degree in Business Administration, local entrepreneur Jeff Hettler went on to earn his Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, in 1984. He would ultimately use his Parkland business degree to become an...

Cheryl Horvath

Fire Chief, Moutain Vista Fire, Tucson, Arizona

Associate in Applied Science

Fire Service Technology

Chief Cheryl Horvath has been in the fire service since 1992, working as a full-time firefighter in Illinois where she served as union president for four years and as a field instructor for the Illinois Fire Service Institute. Chief Horvath is the past President of the Board of Trustees for the Inte...

Annette Huss

Office Support Associate, University of Illinois Staff-Human Resources

Associate in Applied Science

Office Professional

Annette Huss enrolled at Parkland at the age of 48 after her children were grown and out of the house and after a 30-year hiatus from academics. She wanted to complete the degree that she attempted to earn after graduating from high school. She didn't know how well she would do, she just knew that s...

Susan Jepsen

CFO, Reynolds Towing Service, Inc., Urbana, Illinois

Associate in Applied Science


After graduating from Urbana High School in 1977, Susan entered Parkland College that fall and graduated in 1980 with a degree in Accounting. She returned to Parkland over the years and picked up a few additional business classes. “It was always a rewarding experience.  I love that I worked my ...

Carolina Jimenez

Studying for Doctorate, Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois

Associate in Science


Carolina always knew she wanted to one day become a veterinarian, but did not know the way she would get there. “Deciding to attend Parkland College was one of the best decisions I made because not only did it provide an affordable and great education, but also a sense of community and support,” Car...

David Jimenez

Co-owner, Michaels' Catering LLC, Champaign, Illinois

Associate in Applied Science

Business Administration

Born in Bogota, Colombia, David dreamed as a child of becoming a business man and running his own company.  He came to Champaign in 1995 and enrolled in the English as a Second Language program (ESL) at Parkland with the intent of following his dream. A year later, he decided to pursue an assoc...

Justin Kirby

Wealth Management Advisor, Northwestern Mutual, Champaign, Illinois

Associate in Applied Science


Justin Kirby came to Parkland on a golf scholarship and graduated with an associate’s degree in Business. He transferred to Illinois State University, which he said was “very efficient” thanks to his degree at Parkland, and double majored in Marketing and Business Administration, graduating with a B...

Christine Kohler


Associate in Arts

Education and English

Christine had two dreams in high school: to become a professional writer and to travel. Of the colleges she attended, which include Kent State University, Angelo State University, Parkland College, University of Hawaii, Southwest Texas State University, and the University of Texas at San Antonio, sh...

Joseph R. Lex, Jr, M.D.

Retired, Professor of Emergency Medicine, Temple University, Philadelphia Pennsylvania

Associate in Applied Science


Dr. Lex has a very impressive list of professional accomplishments, awards, honors, publications, speaking engagements, and volunteer services considering his only other degree, aside from his Associate’s in Nursing at Parkland – which he attended as a Viet Nam veteran on the GI Bill - was receiving...

Kelly Duitsman Loschen, CPA

Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, Farm Credit Illinois, Mahomet, Illinois

Associate in Business Administration

Kelly attended Parkland College on the Parkland College Presidential Scholarship (now the Board of Trustees Scholarship) awarded to the top 10% of high school graduates from each district high school. She said, “Parkland College is one of the greatest assets in our community.  The quality o...

James Luecking

Retired Champaign Chief of Police, Champaign, Illinois

Associates in Applied Science

Criminal Justice

Shortly after Jim graduated with high honors from the University of Illinois in 1973, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences in Psychology, he was offered a position as a Patrol Officer with the Champaign Police Department.While he worked full-time as a Police Officer, Jim enrolled...

Ashley L. Morgan

Donor Relations Consultant, Community Blood Services of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois

Associate of Arts

Mass Communications

After attending Parkland College, Ashley went on to earn her Bachelor of Science degree in Media Studies, College of Media, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2010.Shortly after that, she worked at Q96 (96.1), a Stevie Jay Broadcasting radio station in Urbana, Illinois first as an ...

Juanita Nesbitt

Retired Nursing Professional

Associate in Applied Science


When Juanita began attending Parkland College full-time, it was her first time away from her home in Danville, Illinois. She said “attending Parkland was truly a time of personal growth and maturity for me. I appreciated the care and support by the instructors – this encouraged me to succeed.” She c...

William Patterson, Ph.D

Professor in College of Engineering in the Technology Entrepreneurship Center and School of Information Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Major: Communications

William Patterson said that “My goal was to attend Parkland to reset my academic experience and to learn how to write proficiently at the higher education level. I knew if I could learn that skill, it would be a passport to more opportunity.” Dr. Patterson received a Master’s Degree in Curriculum an...

Donna McGuire Pepper

Owner/Operator, One Week Boutique, Inc., Champaign, Illinois

Associate in Arts

Liberal Arts and Sciences

Donna Pepper said that she never planned on being an entrepreneur, but the skills she learned at Parkland College gave her the basis of what she uses daily as owner and operator of One Week Boutique.A graduate of Urbana High School, Donna started taking classes at Parkland in the evenings after work...

Darrin Peters

Founder and President, Midwest Underground Technology, Inc. (MUTI)

Associate in Applied Science

Agricultural Business Management

Putting more than a decade of talent and hard work into the wireless telecommunications industry, Darrin Peters has seen the fruit of his creative, energetic, and entrepreneurial labor, making him a well-deserved recipient of Parkland's 2011 Distinguished Alumnus Award. Mr. Peters is founder of Midw...

Jason Pethtel

Matte Painting Compositor

Associate in Applied Science

Digital Media

Originally from Robinson, Illinois, Jason works as a matte painting compositor at DreamWorks. He enjoys creating believable environments for film, TV, and games through the use of paint, 3D modeling, animation, rendering, and compositing.Jason is most proud of seeing his name in the credits for movi...

Julie Pioletti

Office Administrator, Division of Intercollegiate Athletics

General Studies

Hundreds of University of Illinois student-athletes’ lives have been touched by Julie Pioletti. A 32-year UIUC employee, Julie has spent the latter half of those years devotedly mentoring and guiding students as an office administrator in the school’s Division of Intercollegiate Athletics.Julie work...

Sandra Reifsteck

Retired from Institute for Healthcare Communication

Associate in Applied Science


Sandy came to Parkland in 1968 to begin what would become a total of 35 years in the nursing profession. Sandy began her career at Carle Clinic shortly after graduating from Parkland College's Nursing department's first class in 1970. This start allowed her to complete a bachelor's degree and a mast...

Dennis Riggs


Associate in Applied Science

Engineering Science/Electronics Engineering

A fourth-generation Champaign County farmer, Dennis is the first recipient of the Parkland College Distinguished Alumnus Award.  As a student, Dennis helped develop a program within the Parkland Electronics curriculum for visually impaired students. After graduation, he taught computer classes ...

Philip Russel, Ph.D.

Yosemite National Park, Yosemite, California

Business Administration

A 1971 graduate of Champaign Central High School, Dr. Russell worked for a few years at Capital Record Club before enrolling in the summer of 1973 at Parkland College in downtown Champaign. That fall, he became a full-time student attending classes on the new Parkland College campus that had been co...

Todd Short

Police Lieutenant/Emergency Management Bureau, U of I Police Department

Associate in Arts and Applied Science

Liberal Arts & Sciences and Criminal Justice

Although Todd Short has been a sworn police officer since 2000 and has instructed on many topics since 1995 while affiliated with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus, he has spent the last 12 years specializing in emergency management- and terrorism-related topics. He is currently tea...

Dr. Audra Thomas

Assistant Director of Emergency Medicine, Carle Foundation Hospital

Associate in Applied Science

General Studies

After graduating from Parkland in 1989, Audra attended the University of Illinois and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology in 1991 as well as an M.D. in 1996. She completed her residency at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and remarked, “Being at Harbor gave me an experience that one...

Joseph L. Thomas, PhD

Assistant Professor of History of Christianity, Urbana Theological Seminary, Champaign, Illinois

Associate in Applied Science

Liberal Arts and Sciences

Joseph Thomas said he was “completely directionless” when he came to Parkland College in 1982. At the end of his first year, he switched his educational emphasis from business to the study of history, philosophy, and literature. He remarked that it was the start of his journey to become a profession...

Jennifer R. Tobeck

Human Resources Manager, SUPERVALU, Champaign, Illinois

Associate of Applied Science


After graduating from Parkland College in 1991, Jenny Tobeck continued her education at Franklin University in Ohio, earning a Bachelor of Applied Science in Business Administration in 2003.  During her professional career, both after Parkland and after Franklin University, she has worked for T...

Thomas H. Tracy

President and Chief Executive Officer, Farm Credit Illinois, Mahomet, Illinois

Coursework in preparation for MBA

Tom actually first came to Parkland as an elementary student enrolled in the summer College for Kids program at Parkland. However it would be after earning his Bachelor’s degree in Aviation Management at Southern Illinois University in 1992 that he came back to Parkland looking for assistance in...

Joshua M. Trout, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair, Department of Kinesiology, California State University, Chico, California

Physical Education

To help with college expenses, Josh served in the Army National Guard from 1992 to 1998, reaching the rank of Sergeant. After attending Parkland where Josh studied Physical Education, he completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from the University of Illinois in 1998, a Master of Scienc...

Judy Weber-Jones

Retired, teacher and coach, Gibson City Melvin-Sibley School District

Associate in Science

Physical Education

Judy said her Parkland instructor, “Lynette Trout had such a passion for women’s sports. She is the reason I went to Parkland College and into teaching/coaching. She inspired me to start high school fast pitch softball programs at Melvin-Sibley and Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley.”After completing her deg...

Jennipher Wilson

President, Vital Education and Supply, Inc., Champaign, Illinois

Associate in Arts

Liberal Arts and Sciences

Jennipher enrolled at Parkland for three reasons: no one in her family had graduated from any college, she wanted to be a college role model for her daughter, and she was still trying to figure out what to do with her life. “Taking classes at Parkland opened me up to a world that was somewhat closed...