The Parkland College Blog

Parkland Students Named Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise

Phi Theta Kappa's Grace Shirley, Toby Fountain to receive $1,000 scholarships

Parkland College students Grace Shirley of Champaign and Toby Fountain of Mahomet have been selected as 2019 Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholars and will each receive a $1,000 scholarship.

The Leaders of Promise Scholarship Program, sponsored by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, helps new members of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society defray educational expenses while enrolled in associate-degree programs. Scholars are also encouraged to assume leadership roles by participating in Society programs and are selected based on scholastic achievement, community service, and leadership potential. Nearly 900 applications were received.

A total of $207,000 is awarded through the Leaders of Promise Scholarship Program. The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation provides $200,000 in funding for the scholarships, with $25,000 set aside for members who are veterans or active members of the U.S. military. The remaining amount is supported by donations to the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation and provides seven Global Leaders of Promise Scholarships, earmarked for international students.

"The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has a long history of providing financial assistance to outstanding students at community colleges," said Jane Hale Hopkins, president of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. "We are proud to partner with Phi Theta Kappa, make it possible for more deserving students to achieve their educational goals, and support tomorrow’s leaders of the global community."

The funds provided by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation not only aid college completion, but also give students the opportunity to engage in Society programs and develop leadership skills to become future leaders in their communities.

"Research shows that Phi Theta Kappa members are four times more likely to complete a college degree than their peers," said Dr. Monica Marlowe, Executive Director of the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation. "The Leaders of Promise Scholarships recognize students for what they have achieved already and assure that financial need isn’t an obstacle to achieving their academic goals."

Phi Theta Kappa is the premier honor society recognizing the academic achievement of students at associate degree-granting colleges and helping them to grow as scholars and leaders. The Society is made up of more than 3.5 million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in 11 nations. Learn more at

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Fall Welcome Convocation, August 22

Games, information, lunch to welcome students back to campus

Parkland College will hold its annual Fall Welcome Convocation Thursday, August 22, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the college's student union (U building) and outside near the union's patio.

This kickoff to the new academic year welcomes new and returning students to a campus community that values scholarship, academic honesty, and civility. A highlight of Parkland's Welcome Back Week for students and employees, the fall convocation informs new students about clubs, academic programs, student support departments, and the values of the campus in an informal, fun-filled, and welcoming environment.

Parkland's 2019 Welcome Convocation will feature a student club sign-up fair, a "tie dye your own T-shirt" art table, free lunch for the student community (valid ID required), prizes and more. WPCD-FM, the student-run radio station, will air live at the event. 

Dean of Students Marietta Turner said the convocation is designed to strengthen students' connections to Parkland.

"It emphasizes that they are on a journey that begins with their first class and ends with a degree," she said. "College is where students figure out what they want to do with their lives and get the education they need to achieve their dreams. Convocation starts that process."

The Welcome Convocation is part of Parkland's First Year Experience (FYE), a campus-wide effort designed to increase retention and graduation rates.

Open Auditions for Two Fall Theatre Productions Aug. 24

Auditions for "Elephant’s Graveyard" and "Peter and the Starcatcher"

Parkland Theatre will hold auditions for the first two shows of its fall season Saturday, Aug. 24 at the theatre.

Auditions for Elephant’s Graveyard and Peter and the Starcatcher

will take place 9 a.m.–noon. Auditionees are asked to register for an audition slot at Callbacks, if needed, will be Saturday, Aug. 24 at 3 p.m. (Peter and the Starcatcher) and 4 p.m. (Elephant’s Graveyard).

Elephant’s Graveyard director Latrelle Bright is casting 17 actors ages 13 and over of any gender and ethnicity. Auditionees will be asked to prepare a 1- to 1 ½-minute story in the first person. This should be a personal story or a brief section from a piece of literature; no poetry, please.

Peter and the Starcatcher director Mathew Green is casting 12 actors ages 18 and over of any gender and ethnicity. Actors will read from sides which can be found at *Please note: This show is a very physical production, with lots of movement and fast transitions. Actors will be expected to move scenery, handle props, and perhaps even lift/carry other actors.

Performances for Elephant’s Graveyard  will run in Parkland Theatre’s Second Stage Oct. 3–13. Performances for Peter and the Starcatcher  will be held in the Harold and Jean Miner Theatre Nov. 14–24.

All members of the community as well as Parkland and U of I students are invited to audition; Parkland Theatre encourages diversity. Those with additional questions should email

Graduates – Parkland College Spring 2019

Students who earned degrees, certificates listed by hometown

Parkland College recently announced its list of spring 2019 graduates. Included are those who have earned an associate's degree or a certificate.

To view the list of graduates, please visit the Parkland College Graduates web page; students are listed by Illinois hometown unless otherwise noted.

Student Wins Inaugural CobraVenture Pitch Showcase

Elizabeth Allen of Mahomet receives $3,000 in seed money to launch Central Illinois Vinyl

Parkland College announced its inaugural Student Entrepreneur of the Year Monday night.

Elizabeth Allen of Mahomet has won top prize at the first-ever CobraVenture Pitch Showcase, which took place in the school's Student Union. Competing with eight other Parkland students in her cohort during the event, Allen will now receive $3,000 in seed money to start her business, Central Illinois Vinyl.

“I felt happy to win, but the entire experience was rewarding from start to finish,” Allen said. “I enjoyed getting to know the people in my group as well as the folks at Parkland College who worked hard to make it happen for us.”

Through Central Illinois Vinyl, Allen plans to provide local and short-run custom-cut vinyl records for musicians in and around central Illinois. She plans to produce the records through a lathe-cut process instead of a pressed process, allowing for high-quality stereo sound with a short turnaround and no minimum order, according to Allen.

“Vinyl records are the only physical format growing in music sales currently, and we wish to serve our scene and community by providing an affordable service,” Allen said in her pitch statement.

Judges for the pitch competition were Dan Marker of Hickory Point Bank, Carly McCrory of the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation, Professor Julie Weishar, chair of Parkland's Fine and Applied Arts department, Joan Dixon of the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois, Eric Wilson of Serra Ventures, and Marissa Siero of University of Illinois Gies College of Business.

Monday's contest highlighted students from the CobraVenture program's pilot student accelerator lab, which launched in January. The semester-long 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.

“I really loved getting to put together all the building blocks of what it takes to run a small business,” Allen said about her CobraVenture experience. “I also enjoyed listening to business owners talk about their individual journeys toward opening their startups; they were inspirational.” Allen plans to transfer to the University of Illinois in the fall.

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.


[Top image: Elizabeth Allen displays business startup at showcase; lower image, l. to r.: Marc Changnon, program facilitator; Stephanie Stuart; Allen; and Foundation Executive Director Tracy Wahlfeldt.]