The Parkland College Blog

Parkland College Student Abigail Burnett Wins NJCAA Lea Plarski Award

Parkland College Women's Volleyball player Abigail Burnett has been selected as the winner of the annual award.

Parkland College Women's Volleyball player Abigail Burnett has been selected as the 2020 NJCAA Lea Plarski Award winner.

The prestigious national award is presented annually to a student athlete who exemplifies sportsmanship, leadership, community service, academic excellence, and athletic ability. 

A former varsity standout at St. Joseph-Ogden High School, Burnett joined the Cobras in 2018 and began collecting an impressive set of stats in her two-year career. The sophomore opposite hitter ranked in the top-30 nationally in four categories: 8th in attack percentage (.396), 24th in kills (443), 26th in total blocks (124), and 28th in total points (506.5). In the final three matches of the national tournament, she amassed 40 kills and 11 blocks, with a .351 attack percentage. Burnett ranked third on the Cobras in eight categories: kills, kills per set, total attacks, attack percentage, block assists, total blocks, points, and points per set.

The Parkland Radiology student has been named to the 2019 NJCAA DII All-American First Team, the AVCA Two-Year College All-American Third Team, the Region 24 All-Region First Team, and the M-WAC All-Conference Team. She was able to balance academics, athletics, and community service obligations and maintain a 3.7 during the season and achieve an overall 3.5 cumulative GPA. She is the daughter of Chad and Brandi Burnett of St. Joseph.

Cobras Volleyball Assistant Coach Heather Fletcher was asked to write a testimonial about Burnett for the award and describes her as an individual of high character and an invaluable team leader for the Cobras.

"Abi’s leadership carried over from the court to the classroom and then most importantly, in our community," Fletcher explained. "She facilitated practices and scrimmages with the Champaign-Urbana Special Recreation (CUSR) athletes. She was always the first person to volunteer to work with those who needed help or encouragement to play. She has the ability to connect with everyone she meets and make each person feel valued. Burnett also volunteers with Canteen Runs in her hometown, which provide needed supplies to the homeless community in the Champaign-Urbana area."

Created in 1995, the Plarski Award is named after past NJCAA President Lea Plarski, former director of athletics at St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley. In 1975, Plarski was instrumental in establishing the Women's Division of the NJCAA, the first national collegiate athletic organization to develop such a structure. 

The NJCAA held a ceremony via Zoom to present the award to Burnett with her fellow volleyball teammates. The public may view the presentation here

Message from the President, 6/2/2020

Reflection on current events


Please see Dr. Ramage's message to the Parkland College community regarding recent events.




We find ourselves at a distinct turning point in history. While we have been navigating unprecedented circumstances in the preceding months due to a public health crisis, we are also experiencing a crisis of perhaps greater magnitude that is resulting in deep pain for many in our community. This crisis is one of deeply engrained racial injustice. While it has been sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis it points to a longstanding history of inequity that has impacted our communities of color for generations.


As we reflect upon the protests and uprising across the country and in our community, we want to re-affirm the commitment of Parkland College to creating a safe and welcoming environment for all. As an open access institution, our very mission aims to create opportunities for all who wish to pursue them and remove barriers to higher education that have contributed to these longstanding inequities.


Parkland’s strategic plan lays out a vision for our students to become critical thinkers who can provide not only skills, but leadership in our diverse society. Our classrooms, whether physical or virtual, are spaces where the free exchange of ideas fosters deeper understanding and creativity.


We are hopeful that later this summer or fall that we will not only return to campus but can do so with a renewed appreciation and commitment to one another.


Dr. Ramage

International Studies Head to Offer Commencement Keynote

Johns Hopkins' Craig Osborne to provide virtual address May 22

US Army Col. (Ret.) Craig Osborne, chief of staff of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), will deliver the keynote address during Parkland College's 2020 Virtual Commencement Exercises, Friday, May 22, at 7 p.m. via YouTube. The public is invited to visit Parkland's commencement page for a link to the ceremony. Col. (Ret.) Craig Osborne

Osborne retired from active duty in 2019. His 30 years of service in the Army include five combat deployments and participation in Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Joint Guard, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom. The Decatur, Illinois, native currently helps lead Johns Hopkins' renowned school of international affairs, with campuses in Washington, DC; Nanjing, China; and Bologna, Italy.

In 1989, Osborne earned a Bachelor of Science in History from Illinois State University along with a commission through the ROTC program as an Army infantry officer. He has also earned an MS in Adult, Occupational, and Continuing Education from Kansas State University; an MMAS in Military Planning and Operational Design from the US Army Command and General Staff College; an MS in National Security Strategy from the National War College; a Graduate Certificate in Advanced International Affairs from the Bush School of Government at Texas A&M University; and a Certificate in Business from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Among his many awards and decorations, Osborne has twice been presented the Defense Superior Service Medal by the Secretary of Defense as well as the Legion of Merit, five Bronze Star Medals for actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, three Meritorious Service Medals, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge with Star, the Senior Parachutist’s Badge, the Pathfinder Badge, and the Ranger Tab. He has also received four military awards from the German Government, and he is a recipient of the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award for the Army.

Parkland College's 53rd commencement will include a welcome from college administrators President Thomas Ramage and Board of Trustees Chair Bianca Green. New to this year's commencement will be a faculty address and student award presentations. Both segments typically occur during Parkland College's annual Honors Convocation. Retiring economics Professor Amy Myers will provide the faculty address to graduates. 

Student presenters for the virtual ceremony will be speaker Stivenson Jean-Baptiste and tassel turner Emma Fleming. Jean-Baptiste, a native of Haiti, studies Business Management at Parkland. He has served as a Parkland Student Government senator, is founder and president of the student-led Business Club, and is president of the International Student Association. Fleming, a Paxton, Illinois, native, studies English literature. She graduated from Judah Christian School before starting at Parkland in 2018. At Parkland, she has been a member of the Programming Board, the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, and the International Student Association. She was also a reporter and editor for the Prospectus, a worker for the Center for Academic Success, and vice president for Parkland Student Government. She plans to pursue anthropology at the University of Illinois in the fall.

The ceremony will also feature music selections by the Parkland College Wind Ensemble and an invocation and benediction by the Rev. Angel Sierra of Forty Martyrs Catholic Church in Tuscola.

Candidates for Commencement Announced

More than 925 degrees, certificates to be conferred

Parkland College announces the candidates for the college's 53rd Commencement Exercises. View the full list of candidates here; students are listed by hometown.

Due to the novel coronavirus​ outbreak, this year's graduation ​ceremony will be held virtually on Friday, May 22, 2020, at 7 p.m. via YouTube. ​Details regarding the virtual commencement, including the link to access it, will be announced at a later date.

Parkland to Hold Virtual Commencement, May 22

Participating graduates to receive "Cobra Kit" with diploma

Parkland College will hold its first-ever Virtual Commencement Exercises Friday, May 22, to recognize its spring 2020 graduates.

The virtual ceremony will take place at 7 p.m., Parkland President Thomas Ramage announced today. Community members are invited to tune in to the event via YouTube, where they also will have the opportunity to cheer on graduates via social media and in the live chat.

"Commencement is an important tradition and a capstone of the academic year, where we honor our students' accomplishments," Ramage said. "So rather than canceling this milestone event in our students’ lives, we’re happy for the opportunity to celebrate with all our graduates virtually."

Parkland's virtual ceremony will feature many aspects of its traditional commencement, including speakers, awards presentations, and the reading of the graduates' names.

Students who desire to be included in the virtual ceremony must respond by May 1 to a forthcoming email from Student Services Vice President Michael Trame. His email will contain instructions for uploading graduate photos and information. Participating graduates will receive a "Cobra Commencement Kit" that will be mailed with their diplomas. The kit will include a copy of the commencement program, mortar board, tassel, padded diploma cover, and a Cobras school spirit token.

Ramage also invited Parkland's 2020 graduates to participate in the school's 2021 Commencement Exercises, scheduled for May 13 at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. He said information on next year's ceremony will be forwarded at a later date.

Parkland College suspended its traditional May commencement last month due to the Illinois stay-at-home order and the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.