Diverse Students Win Faculty-Created Writer's Competition

Students win Diana McDonald Writer's Challenge awards of $500 each

Four Parkland College students recently earned prizes in an annual writing competition created by a retired faculty member.
 
Winning Diana McDonald Writer's Challenge awards of $500 each for their essays were Kennedy Coffie of Chicago for "Mastering Language"; Sami Issa of Syria for "Moving Up the Ladder"; Kaitlyn Marsh of Weldon, Illinois, for "A Necessary Evil"; and Elie Ngandu of the Republic of Congo for "America's Immigrant Dream."
 
Parkland English Professor Seth Mendelowitz, who serves as coordinator for the contest, said the competition usually awards one or two winners each year but that this year was special due to the strength and diversity of the submissions.
 
"Our winners ranged from a student temporarily living here during conflicts in his home country to a student from a small town in rural Illinois," he said. "Given evidence of excessive time spent by young people with more clipped forms of communication (via social media), and given the resultant widespread concern that most young people are not developing their reading and writing skills, it is exciting that we have had such a strong pool of submissions this year."
 
In fall 2011, to foster students' interests in writing, McDonald, a former composition instructor at Parkland, began awarding essays that display a strong sense of voice and unique perspective, written with precise word choice, clear organization, and grammatical and mechanical correctness.
 
According to the contest website, judges look for essays that "connect the writer's experiences, insights, and observations to larger ongoing conversations about the world—about politics, philosophy, science, media, justice, family, race, happiness, the environment, or some other important component of our culture and/or world." Mendelowitz said this year's judges regretted not awarding several other submissions that also displayed originality, interesting life experiences, and clear writing.
 
Students taking a Humanities department course may submit essays for the McDonald Writer's Challenge. Faculty judges select a winner near the end of May. Besides a cash award, the winning essay is also published on SPARK, Parkland's online academic repository. SPARK now includes the new winning essays:

  • Mastering Language: Coffie’s essay offers thoughtful reflections on her journeys between different English language communities, demonstrating how our way of speaking can tie us to a community and sense of communal identity, while shutting us off from other communities and identities. https://spark.parkland.edu/mcdonald_award/8/
  • Moving Up the Ladder: Having made the U.S. his temporary home due to civil war in Syria, Issa details his fears and confusions at his job due to his rudimentary English skills as well as the strategies he employed to overcome his fears and improve his speaking and comprehension. https://spark.parkland.edu/mcdonald_award/7/
  • A Necessary Evil: In this well-researched essay, Kaitlyn Marsh offers a balanced analysis of the effects of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Illnesses (DSM), which has promoted humane and consistent treatment of people with mental illness, while also enabling "big pharma" to generate a dramatic increase in the numbers of Americans being diagnosed with and medicated for mental illness.  https://spark.parkland.edu/mcdonald_award/6/
  • America's Immigrant Dream: An immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ngandu acknowledges sympathy for Americans who come from a line of long-oppressed forebearers while describing the contrasting perception and experience of many immigrants, including himself, for whom the U.S. is a land of opportunity.  https://spark.parkland.edu/mcdonald_award/5/

Changing Lives: Highway Careers Construction Training

Join the HCCTP by attending a free orientation session

In just under four months, local residents Frankie Hernandez and Ryan Trimble have transformed their lives.

Over the winter, they decided to join the Highway Construction Careers Training Program at Parkland College after attending an orientation session. HCCTP, a state program, offers free critical skills training and education in the highway construction trades to women, minorities, and disadvantaged individuals, but the program is open to anyone.

Last week, on the day before Hernandez and Trimble officially graduated, we spotted them working, on Mattis Avenue, and stopped to talk. While an apprentice’s pay is good, they remarked, their employer decided to give them over $7/hour more than they expected.

“Yeah, we are getting the full rate of pay,” Hernandez said. Trimble nodded and extended his hands outward.

“It’s awesome,” he said, referring to either the pay or the job, or both.

One of the seasoned workers on the crew stepped out from the shade of a nearby tree and looked directly at me, adding, “These are good guys. We’re glad to have them.” In fact, if you had just passed by the crew, you would never have guessed who the new guys were. They were focused, working, and part of the team.

So how did Hernandez and Trimble get here? Like many of our HCCTP students, every story is different, but they both wanted to make a lasting change.

“It’s good work. It’s real work,” said Hernandez, standing half in and half out of a square hole their crew had cut out of Mattis Avenue, his gloved hands resting on his waist. “I’m really glad to be working.” Hernandez had attended one of the three orientation classes we offer that inform potential students of the expectations of the HCCTP: Show up on time and do your best.

Students have to have a high school diploma or equivalency, and they must pass a drug screening test. They must be at least 18 and have an interest in the construction trades.

During their first six weeks, Hernandez and Trimble learned math-specific skills for the industry; life skills; construction site safety; equipment training (aerial lift, scissor lift, skid steer, backhoe/end loader, crane safety and rigging, crane signaling, extended reach fork lift, and fork lift); and flagger training. For the following nine weeks they performed hands-on general-construction and skilled-trades training, including stick welding, basic plumbing, electrical work, and sheet metal work.

“The math skills really helped me,” Hernandez said. “I improved a lot in that area so I could do my job.” Trimble had a different takeaway from the experience.

“I like the big machines,” he said, laughing.

Before their first working gig on Mattis Avenue, both men were paid to learn skills to enter the trades. The HCCTP also provides pens, pencils, paper, books, work boots, tools, etc. All students have to do is make sure they wear jeans that are free from rips or tears and be punctual, ready to work, and ready to learn.

Anyone interested in joining the Highway Construction Careers Training Program must first attend an orientation session at the Business Training and Community Education office, 1315 N. Mattis Avenue in Champaign. Our upcoming sessions take place July 10, 11, or 12 at 2 p.m. Please call 217/351-2235 for more information, or apply online.

Teens from our popular Land Surveying and Mapping with Technology camp were treated to a visit from some surveying tech gurus and engineers from St. Louis mid-June. And there were drones involved.

Todd Horton, instructor of the camp and program manager for Parkland’s Construction Management Programs, arranged to have Thouvenot, Wade & Moerchen, Inc. teach campers in the classroom and provide hands-on training outdoors on a perfect summer day near the gymnasium.

“We need to raise awareness in land surveying, and these guys are great at it,” he said.”

“These guys” were Derek Twente, Andrew Joost, and Josh Hoffmann, who taught the teens about telegrammetry and LiDAR imaging—cutting-edge technologies in the field of surveying and mapping.

“We work with GIS, surveying crews, civil engineers, and many, many more groups of people,” said Joost, a geospatial data manager who has worked in the field ten years. “There are many people involved.”

After spending some time in the classroom, the campers headed outside and received some hands-on instruction with a drone. Hoffmann, a geospatial construction services manager, held a captive audience as he put his drone on autopilot. It lifted into the air as he explained to students that the drone would take a series of 31 pictures at 250 feet, moving in a grid-like pattern. The resulting images would provide ortho-image data and plot points.

“It’s amazing technology,” he said. “When I show these kids the detail afterward, they’re going to be blown away.”

The trip up from St. Louis was an investment for these engineers. “Most kids out there don’t really know anything about what they can do in this field,” said Twente, who is also the president-elect of the Illinois Professional Land Surveyor’s Association. “I know of only one other camp in Illinois that does this.” He was referring to Todd Horton’s intensive surveying and mapping camp, which puts equipment in the hands of teens and shows them a potential future in surveying. The job market is booming, but there is a lack of awareness of what the industry entails and how to get in it.

With the advent of new technologies, such as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS, or drones) and the increased capabilities of cameras, imagery, and software, surveying has exploded into new methods of discovery and accessibility. The equipment can be fun, the work takes place indoors and outdoors, and the pay can be pretty good. The catch?

“Kids just don’t know about this stuff,” Horton said.

Except for these kids. They’re right in the middle of the fun, thanks to Horton and the engineers from Thoutvenot, Wade & Moerchen, Inc. They’ve gotten a leg-up on their peers when it comes to future job opportunities, and they got to do it in a fun summer camp.

Did your teens miss the camp? No problem! There are other ways to get involved. Here are some other opportunities:

  • For internships and inquiries, contact Derek Twente, Geospatial Services Manager, at 618/624-4488, or email dtwente@twm-inc.com.
  • For UAS/Drone classes, FAA licenses, and using mapping software, contact Parkland College Business Training & Community Education, at 217/351-2235, or register online at www.parkland.edu/btceRegister

For more information on surveying and mapping, future camps, and similar opportunities, email Todd Horton at thorton@parkland.edu.

Yesterday evening at the 2018 Parkland Graphic Design Juried Exhibition opening reception, six students split $1,100 in cash awards for exhibiting excellent work.

Every spring, the students in Parkland’s Graphic Design and Interactive Design Programs showcase their best work in the Giertz Gallery at Parkland College. 177 entries were received this year and a jury of Parkland’s design faculty selected 130 of those for inclusion in the show.

This year, we had $1,100 in prize money available. Most of the awards were donated by local businesses and supporters of Parkland’s Graphic Design and Interactive Design programs. These friends include Surface 51, The Robeson Family, [co][lab], the Champaign County Stormwater Partnership, and the Champaign-Urbana Design Org (CUDO), who all donated cash awards. CUDO was also the co-sponsor of the opening reception.

Two industry professionals were invited to come in to select the award winners. This year’s judges were David Michael Moore, a freelance graphic designer, illustrator & facilitator; and Natalie Fiol, a graphic designer at the University of Illinois’s College of Fine + Applied Arts and resident photographer of Dance at Illinois. Natalie was also an alumni of Parkland’s Graphic Design program from 2012. Their task was to find the 11 best pieces in the show and then select the one piece that would receive the coveted “best of show” award.

“I felt creatively rejuvenated and inspired after judging the 2018 Parkland College Graphic Design Student Show,” said Natalie Fiol. “Overall, the work features a nice mix of playful, classic, and contemporary styles and the illustration work was particularly strong this year. It was an honor to have a voice in the selection of this year’s awards.”

“I was very impressed with the selection for this year’s show,” added David Michael Moore. “I’m excited for this next wave of design coming from Parkland College!”

More than 200 industry professionals, alumni, friends, family, and students attended the reception. At 6:30 p.m., each of the winners were acknowledged with a round of applause, a certificate, and a check.

Here’s who won (clicking on an image below will open a larger image in a new window):


• Graphic Design Best of Show

Coloring book by Kristy Lau

Coloring book by Kristy Lau

 


• Illustration Best of Show (sponsored by The Robeson Family)

Illustration by Abby Eichstedt

Illustration by Abby Eichstedt

 


• President’s Award of Excellence

Poster by Brooke Armstrong

Poster by Brooke Armstrong

 


• Surface 51 Award of Excellence

Album cover by Abby Eichstedt

Album cover by Abby Eichstedt

 


• Surface 51 Excellence in Typography Award

Brand promotion by Brooke Armstrong

Branding Campaign by Brooke Armstrong

 


• [co][lab] Award of Excellence

Logo by Arnie Lack

Logo by Arnie Lack

 


• CUDO Award of Excellence

Poster by Kristy Lau

Poster by Kristy Lau

 


• Electric Pictures Award of Excellence

Website by Justin Klett

Website by Justin Klett

 


• Champaign County Stormwater Partnership Environmental Stewardship Award

Branding Campaign by Kristy Lau

Branding Campaign by Kristy Lau

 


• David M. and Shirley A. Jones Student Art Award

Poster by

Poster by Miriam Tworek-hofstetter

 


• Fine & Applied Arts Department Chair Award

Menu by Brooke Armstrong

Menu by Brooke Armstraong

 

The 2018 Parkland Graphic Design Student Juried Exhibition will continue in Parkland’s Giertz Gallery through May 31. Summer gallery hours are Monday–Thursday, 10am–7pm (closed Friday, Saturday and Sunday).

To see more examples of student work from Parkland’s Graphic Design and Interactive Design programs, please visit our virtual galleries.

[Paul Young is the program director of Graphic Design at Parkland College.]

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