The Parkland College Blog

Aspiring student entrepreneurs from Parkland College will soon pitch their ideas before local venture capitalists and startup experts as they vie for more than $8,500 in monetary awards to fund their businesses and the title of Parkland Student Entrepreneur of the Year. 
Parkland College's Entrepreneurial Network (PEN) will hold its third CobraVenture Pitch Showcase at 5 p.m. on Monday, May 23 in the Parkland College Student Union. The contest will highlight students from the CobraVenture program's student accelerator lab, which launched in January 2020.

Entrepreneurship Facilitator Marc Changnon will serve as emcee. CobraVenture's 2022 cohort, which began at the start of the 2022 spring semester, includes students from a variety of academic programs who want to start their own business while still enrolled in college. A list of the students, their businesses, and program details can be found at
Judging their capstone competition will be Damien Banks of Sacred Heart Medical Center, Carly McCrory-McKay of the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation, Marissa Siero of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Gies College of Business, Professor Julie Weishar, chair of Parkland’s Fine and Applied Arts department, and Mark Pelmore of Lincoln & Hill, Inc.
The CobraVenture accelerator provides students with an avenue for networking and business mentorship. It features a collaborative workspace, topics taught by local serial entrepreneurs, and one-on-one guidance with business mentors. The program is supported through the Parkland College Foundation.
CobraVenture is funded through existing funds from the Parkland Foundation Entrepreneurial Founders Program, Murray Wise Associates PEN Program, and those raised through its annual Entrepreneur of the Year event. Parkland Community Education, the college's noncredit arm, is helping to plan and administer the workshops. The program is operating with oversight from an advisory committee comprised of community leaders and Parkland College faculty and staff, spearheaded by Stephanie Stuart, Vice President for Communications and External Affairs.

Camp Monarch: Evolving with Dyslexia Summer Camp

Community Education summer camp for students with dyslexia

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Parkland College Community Education is adding a new camp designed specifically for students with dyslexia to its summer lineup.

Camp Monarch: Evolving with Dyslexia helps students ages 7-14 gain confidence in reading, math, and writing through individualized tutoring using multisensory and Orton-Gillingham-based teaching methods. Small group activities will encourage students to build friendships with peers who have similar learning styles.

The camp will run for two sessions: June 20-30 and July 11-21, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Parkland College; both sessions are recommended to get the most benefit from the camp. The camp is open to students with an individualized education program (IEP) or 504 plan, are in a reading intervention program, or who struggle with reading. Documentation is required upon enrollment. Scholarships are available for students with financial need or who would benefit academically from the camp.

Register at and browse by category Youth and College for Kids. Search for Camp Monarch. Camp Monarch is not a part of College for Kids, but runs simultaneously. Supervised lunch periods are provided for students who also attend College for Kids.

For more information about the College for Kids and Summer Discovery camps, please contact Community Education at, or by phone at 217/351-2235.

Parkland College's Project READ Receives 2022 Spotlight Awards

Project READ Learners, Tutor Recognized with State Awards

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Project READ at Parkland College has won three Spotlight Awards from the Illinois State Library, a division of the Office of the Illinois Secretary of State.
The Spotlight on Achievement and Service Awards recognize the achievements of individuals who support the adult literacy effort in Illinois, from adult learners improving their skills to the volunteer tutors who assist and guide them.  
All three of Parkland’s nominated individuals received awards at a reception ceremony in Springfield on May 11. Longtime tutor Bob Kirby won the Spotlight on Service Award, and learners Doug Webb and Efrain Gaspar both won Spotlight on Achievement Awards.
Since retiring from his physician practice ten years ago, Kirby has never stopped caring for and wanting to help others, especially immigrants in the Champaign-Urbana community through English language classes. He has shown his dedication by founding the English Second Language program at the local First Presbyterian Church, tutoring with Project READ, and hosting an “Easy English Fellowship” group every Sunday and Monday.
After seeing the limitations that a family member faced due to illiteracy, Kirby was inspired to begin teaching English. "With training and encouragement from Project READ at Parkland College, tutoring adults in English is something I can do," he said. "Meeting learners from diverse cultures has enriched my life, as has my relationship with the Project READ staff."
Learner Efrain Gaspar’s goal is to become an apprentice with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) in Champaign, which requires a math examination, among others. Originally from Guatemala, he and his tutor Cathy Salika would focus on word problems to practice his math and English skills.
Gaspar has since passed the IBEW math examination. "We are all so happy to see him advance his skills and achieve the goal he has been so focused on," the Project READ staff said. "Efrain has been a tremendously dedicated learner—the model of politeness and studiousness."
"I have been able to achieve these goals because of Project READ’s ability to find excellent resources and volunteers," Gaspar said. "My family and I are so thankful for the help from Project READ."

Learner Doug Webb credits Project READ and his tutor Diane Terando for helping him change his life. From a self-described "non-reader" to passing GED exam portions and taking computer classes at Parkland, he and the Project READ staff are very proud of his achievements and steps forward.
"I used to be shy and afraid because I couldn’t talk well, and my words didn’t sound right," Webb shared in his nomination essay. "I am more comfortable meeting people now than ever before in my life. I have more confidence. The word ‘quit’ is not in my vocabulary any longer."

Project READ is made possible by the Illinois State Library, a division of the Office of the Illinois Secretary of State, Jesse White, using funds designated for literacy.

For more information about Project READ, please visit, email, or call 217/351-2580.

[from top: Bob Kirby, Efrain Gaspar, Doug Webb, with state officials in Springfield.]

ECCA Students Commit to Parkland College at Signing Day Event

ECCA Signing Day Celebrates High School Seniors Enrolling at Parkland

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Parkland College celebrated the continuation of Early College and Career Academy students' academic careers with a special signing day event on May 3.

The ECCA Senior Signing Day recognized high school seniors who have earned dual credit through the Early College and Career Academy and have chosen to continue their education in a career training program at Parkland this fall. Students and their parents were invited to the college campus to take photos, declare their enrollment, and celebrate their accomplishments.

18 seniors from eight local high schools signed letters of intent to enroll in Parkland College associate's and certificate programs such as automotive technology, criminal justice, industrial technology, motorsport technology, nursing, occupational therapy, computer science, and more. Schools represented were Unity, Gibson City Melvin Sibley, Champaign Central, Mahomet-Seymour, Monticello, St. Joseph-Ogden, Fisher, and Centennial.

ECCA Director Nick Elder has seen the students through from high school to college. "We are thrilled that these students have chosen to re-enroll at Parkland College to continue their post-secondary education," he said.

"All high school students who participate in ECCA benefit from their experience, but it is especially satisfying to see these students return to advance their education and graduate from a certificate or degree program at Parkland. By re-enrolling at Parkland, these students have taken the first step to make that goal a reality."

The Early College and Career Academy is a joint effort of Education for Employment System #330 and Parkland College to provide high school juniors and seniors an opportunity to earn dual credit in nine different Parkland College program areas. Over 1000 students have participated in the program since its inception in the 2015-2016 school year. Learn more at or contact Director Nick Elder.

Staerkel Planetarium to Host Total Lunar Eclipse Viewing

Total Lunar Eclipse Viewing at Staerkel Planetarium, May 15

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The William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College is hosting a free telescope viewing of the total lunar eclipse, weather permitting.

On Sunday, May 15, the eclipse will be visible in most of North America, depending on cloud coverage. In Champaign, the Moon will start to get dimmer after sunset and begin moving into Earth's umbra, or full shadow, around 9:30 p.m. The total eclipse begins around 10:30 p.m. and will last for about 80 minutes.

Planetarium staff and members of the Champaign-Urbana Astronomical Society will set up several telescopes outside the planetarium so visitors can view the moon. The circle drive outside the planetarium and theatre will be blocked off to allow for pedestrian traffic. Visitors should park in the M1 or C4 parking lots.

A lunar eclipse occurs when Earth is positioned between the Sun and Moon. Normally, the Moon would appear full, but Earth's shadow can cover the Moon entirely, making it much dimmer. A total lunar eclipse looks red due to sunlight refracted through Earth's atmosphere.

For more information about the event, the planetarium, or booking the dome, please call 217/351-2567 or visit