The Parkland College Blog

David M. Jones Persuasive Speech Contest Winners Announced

Four Students Place in David Jones Speech Contest

Four Parkland College students earned top honors out of those who recently presented at the school's 18th annual David M. Jones Persuasive Speech Contest.

The competition, which gives communication students a chance to argue for their favorite charity, featured a virtual awards ceremony this year due to the pandemic. On May 13, judges chose the presenters they felt had the strongest speaking skills, with the top winner's charity receiving a donation of $500. Local, national, and international charities were represented.

First-place honors went to Nathaniel Carsten of Mahomet, whose speech supporting local charity Catsnap, or the Champaign Area Trap Spay/Neuter and Adoption Program, earned him a cash prize of $500. Joseph Simmons of Champaign spoke on behalf of St. Jude's Children's Hospital and won second place, a prize of $250. Tuscola's Anneliese McDaniel came in third, winning $100 for her speech on Stephens Family YMCA. In fourth place was Snehal Saini of Joliet, who earned $50 for his CivicaRX speech.

Contest participants spoke highly of the experience and encouraged fellow students to confront the common fear of public speaking by entering the contest.

"Anyone who is taking COM 103 should take the time to trust themselves and enter this wonderful, charitable contest," Carsten said. "Not placing does not mean not winning. You won over the fear of not entering at all, and that's a tough battle either way." His advice for interested students? "Study, practice, watch plenty of movies, talk to yourself, and enter. Good luck!"

"The contest is definitely worth your time!" Simmons added. "It always helps to put yourself in some competitive situations where you're trying to perform at your best, and the David Jones Speech Contest is a perfect way to put yourself out there!"

Each year, Parkland's Communication faculty selects communication professionals within the community and campus as finalist judges. This year's final-round judges included Dr. Marsh Jones, professor of history at Parkland; Dr. Nancy Sutton, vice president for academic services at Parkland; Tim Ditman, news-talk radio WDWS reporter; WDWS radio host and former general manager Mike Haile; and Les Schulte, president of Illini After 5 Rotary, who contributed the $1,000 prize for the first-place winner and his charity.

The contest is sponsored by the Parkland College Communication program and Parkland's Fine and Applied Arts department and is supported by donations made to the David Jones Persuasive Speech Contest Scholarship Fund. The fund was created in honor of Jones, former chair of the Fine and Applied Arts department from 1988 until his death from cancer in 2002. The annual speech contest honors Dr. Jones' commitment to the communication discipline and student enrichment.

[pictured: Nathaniel Carsten, left; Joseph Simmons, right]

Parkland Cobras Sports Journalist Wins National Award

Parkland Sports Information Director Joey Gruner Awarded by CoSIDA

Parkland College's sports information director Joey Gruner was recently recognized as a 2021 National Champion Sports Information Director in NJCAA Division II Men's Golf by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).

Gruner was awarded for his work following the Cobras Golf team throughout its championship-winning 2021 season. The combined success of all Cobras teams this spring, with four qualifying for national championship tournaments, required the Athletics department to coordinate 146 media releases over 130 days, covering about 225 separate events.

"I consider it a privilege to report on and promote the athletic programs at Parkland College," Gruner said about the honor. "This institution has an incredible staff to work alongside, and the student athletes and coaches have had an awesome spring. It was thrilling for me personally to attend the final round of the Men's Golf championship and report on the accomplishment of winning a national title. I really enjoy my role in such a successful department and institution."

Samples of Gruner's award-winning work are available at

COVID-19 Vaccinations Available at Parkland College, June 3

Parkland College and Walgreens vaccination clinic, Thursday, June 3

<p>Parkland College and Walgreens will be hosting another COVID-19 vaccination clinic on campus from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. on Thursday, June 3.<br />
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As part of Illinois&#39; vaccination plan, individuals ages 12 and up are currently eligible to receive a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine with parental consent. Eligible community members interested in being vaccinated are invited to make an appointment using the following QR code. Walk-ups will also be accepted.<br />
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Walgreens is utilizing a tent in the M-4 parking lot <img align="right" data-file-id="3657043" height="150" src="" style="border-image: none 100% / 1 / 0 stretch;width: 150px;height: 150px;margin: 10px 0px 10px 10px;border: 0;line-height: 100%;outline: none;text-decoration: none;" width="150" />to administer vaccinations. Future vaccine clinic dates will be announced in the coming weeks. Individuals who receive their first dose here but are unable to participate in a follow-up event are still eligible to receive their second dose at any Walgreens across the nation.<br />
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For more information about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccinations, please refer to the <a href="" style="color: #228b22;font-weight: normal;text-decoration: underline;word-wrap: break-word !important;" target="_blank">Center for Disease Control</a>. Find more Illinois-specific information from the Illinois Department of Public Health <a href="" style="color: #228b22;font-weight: normal;text-decoration: underline;word-wrap: break-word !important;" target="_blank">here</a>.</p>


Parkland College Adds New Mental Health Certificate Program

Parkland College to add Mental Health Certificate this fall 2021

Parkland College will be adding a new Mental Health Certificate program this fall.

The new five-credit-hour certificate will train entry-level mental health and social service workers to enter full or part time mental health support professional roles. These skills include therapeutic communication and de-escalation techniques; identification of signs and symptoms of mental illness, substance abuse, and developmental disabilities; and certification in mental health first aid, among others.

The two-course program, offered by Parkland's Social Science and Human Services department, can be completed in a single semester and will benefit people working or wanting to work in social services organizations.

"After hearing from our partners in the community that workers need these skills to best serve their clients, we have developed this new certificate in order to meet this important need," said Joseph Walwik, dean of arts and sciences.

"Students enrolling in these courses will earn a certificate in Mental Health First Aid and also gain basic knowledge about mental health, substance abuse, developmental and other issues. We are confident that with this training students will leave Parkland prepared to enter the social services workforce.”

The Mental Health Certificate will be available to take starting this Fall 2021. To register, visit For more information about the program, please visit