PROF Scholars

Karen Keener photo

The PROF Scholarship was established in 1997 by the late Karen M. Keener, who joined the English faculty at Parkland College in 1970 and was chair of the Humanities Department when she retired in 2000. Professor Keener was a strong proponent of diversifying our faculty.

At Parkland, we are committed to serving our community’s increasingly diverse population by creating a faculty that reflects our student body. One way we do this is by offering opportunities for underrepresented students to enter the field of college teaching.
Our Professors of the Future (PROF) program selects outstanding Parkland students and assists them in becoming community college teachers by providing financial and mentoring support. Our goal is to help these students complete bachelor’s and master’s degrees and, when opportunities are available, to have them return to teach at Parkland as PROF scholars. PROF scholars are encouraged to apply for any faculty positions that become available in their disciplines at Parkland.


Who can apply?
Any current or recent Parkland student who meets the following criteria may apply. The student:

  • must be a member of an underrepresented group within the discipline or program in which the student aspires to teach
  • must be a United States citizen or a permanent resident
  • must not already have a bachelor's degree

What are the academic requirements?
To qualify, a student must:

  • Complete at least 24 credit hours in the academic program the student hopes to teach in with a minimum 3.2 GPA
  • Have compelling academic promise
  • Set a career goal of teaching in a community college

After acceptance, the scholar must:  
Successfully transfer to a four-year college or university in the calendar year of the award
Complete bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the discipline declared during the application process
Participate in a mentoring relationship with a Parkland faculty member in the student’s discipline
Return to Parkland during the period of the scholarship to participate in student engagement activities

To apply:

  • A word-processed personal essay of 750-1,000 words to help us to get to know you. Please address the following:
    • Share your personal history and career goals.
    • Why are you attracted to community college teaching?
    • What talents, experiences, and philosophies do you possess that will enable you to develop the skills needed to be a quality community college instructor?
    • What kind of diversity do you bring to your specific discipline or program? (The following are categories included in the definition of diversity in the College’s Equal Employment Opportunity Statement: race, color, sex, gender, gender expression, national origin, religion, age, veteran status (including Vietnam veteran), marital status, ancestry, disability, or sexual orientation).
  • Letters of recommendation from two Parkland College faculty discussing your potential as a student and, more significantly, as a community college teacher. One of those two letters must be written by a currently employed Parkland College faculty member who teaches in the academic discipline in which you hope to teach.
  • Official transcripts from all colleges attended, including Parkland.

PROF Information Sheet

PROF Scholar Application
For more information contact:
Phil Bossaer at or 217/353-2691
Umeeta Sadarangani at or 217/373-3868

The Karen Keener PROF Scholar is supported by the Parkland College Foundation. Click to learn how you can help support this and other Parkland programs.