The Parkland College Blog

Parkland Students, Alumni to Present Research at Kaler Lecture

Staerkel Planetarium to host PRECS students for Kaler Lecture

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Parkland students and alumni will present their summer research work at the first James B. Kaler Science Lecture to return to the dome this fall at the William M. Staerkel Planetarium.

Friday, October 1 at 6:30 p.m., Brittney Bailey, Soohyun Lee, and Faith Smith will give a talk titled "Nature & Nurture: Examining How Diverse Organisms Adapt to Changes in their Everyday Environment," which includes their results in the 2021 Phenotypic Plasticity Research Experience for Community College Students (PRECS) program. Admission for all Kaler Lectures are $2 or free for members of the Friends of the Staerkel Planetarium.

The PRECS program, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, is a collaboration between Parkland College and the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. The ten-week program brings community college students from across the country to Parkland and UIUC to conduct research over the summer. Phenotypic plasticity describes how environmental conditions produce responses in genes that affect physical appearance or behavior.

Brittney Bailey is a Parkland graduate and UIUC student who investigated how the quality of honey bees' diet can mitigate the harmful effects of pesticides and viruses. Soohyun Lee is another Parkland grad and current UIUC student whose project, "Bioinformatics Protocol for Assessing Contamination Level and Quality on Genomics Data of Ensifer meliloti", focused on a species of bacteria. Faith Smith is a current Parkland student who monitored the effects of biofilm production in rhizobia, a soil bacteria, on how clover responds to drought conditions.

All Kaler Science Lectures will be filmed by PCTV for later viewing. The seating capacity is limited to 60 people for all planetarium shows at this time. After the talk, the seats will be cleaned in preparation for the 8 pm program, Birth of Planet Earth. Tickets for our fulldome shows range from $5 to $6 with discounts offered for large groups. For a show schedule, call 217/351-2446 or visit

New State Report Details Parkland's Impact on Local Economy

Parkland accounts for $85.7 million in economic output, gains students $600,000 in additional earnings

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Parkland College plays a key role in boosting the local Champaign-Urbana and greater Illinois economies, according to a new study from the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB).

The study, Illinois Community Colleges' Economic Impacts and Student Employment Outcomes, evaluates the Illinois community college system on its ability to meet the needs of business and industry and on equity, student outcomes, students' return on investment, and overall economic impact. The study estimates that, in the last fiscal year, Parkland College's total economic output on the statewide economy was $85.7 million.

During this period, Parkland employed 1,024 employees with a total payroll of $37.7 million in wages and benefits. This activity rippled through the state economy, creating 220 additional jobs, boosting payrolls, and promoting other economic activity, according to the study.

"This study quantifies what we already know, which is that Parkland provides life-changing opportunities for students and that community colleges are vehicles for economic prosperity," said Parkland president Thomas Ramage. "Investing in a degree or long-term certificate program is an investment not only in your own future and that of your family; it contributes substantially to the economic vitality of the region and the state of Illinois. Recent events have deepened and reaffirmed our commitment to serving all who wish to learn and train for a new career."

"Parkland College is a key partner in the work we do to advance the central Illinois region, and that is especially true in Champaign County," said Carly McCrory-McKay, Executive Director of the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation.

"Their collaboration on workforce development initiatives, supporting entrepreneurs, and engagement in attracting employers to our community is absolutely critical in improving the economic well-being of our region. From the ICATT Apprenticeship program and Early College and Career Academy to CobraVenture and AgTech initiatives, Parkland College always stands ready to meet the needs of our region, and we're truly thankful for the partnership and impact."

Parkland College's economic impact is not limited to the local or statewide economy. The study found that more than 80 percent of Parkland's long-term certificate and associate's degree graduates obtained jobs in their career field within one year of graduation. Employment rates improved over time, with 90 percent of graduates employed after 10 years. Parkland Health Professions degree completers saw the highest employment rate at 88.6 percent.

The study also measured the return on investment for students obtaining credentials at a community college, compared to someone not completing or attending community college. The increased earnings for a degree completer were estimated to total more than $620,000 over the course of a 40-year working life.

COVID Impact. The report also looked at the economic impact of COVID on the industries of Illinois. While many industries are experiencing permanent job closures or position eliminations, others, such as healthcare and social assistance, transportation and warehousing, and waste management and remediation services, are expected to increase their demand for trained and/or certified workers.

"For Parkland, this is an opportunity to help displaced workers retrain, retool, and get back into the workforce," said Pamela Lau, executive vice president. "Getting workers back on track, ready for a new career, and ready to support themselves and their families with opportunities they might not have been able to access otherwise is our goal."

Workforce Organization Assessment. Community workforce leaders, including Dr. Justin Arnold, director of workforce development at Champaign County Regional Planning Commission, agree with the study's estimate of Parkland College's worth to the community, calling the college the regional leader for job training.

"We work with Parkland College to connect our clients—youth, adults, and employers—to a variety of educational resources: noncredit corporate training, apprenticeship curriculum design, industry-recognized credentials, and remedial support, such as GED-prep and adult literacy," Arnold said.

Equity Efforts. All Illinois community colleges are committed to continuing growth in short-term certificate opportunities, particularly in high-need communities. The ICCB study found that employment rates varied by race and ethnicity for those who completed Parkland College programs in fiscal year 2018 (latest full year available). African American completers represented the largest minority group by share of completers, with a career-job employment rate of 93.1 percent.

In 2019, Illinois created the Workforce Equity Initiative (WEI)—a grant program designed to increase workforce opportunities for African Americans, a group severely underrepresented among Career and Technical education (CTE) programs. Over the last two years, the WEI program has granted nearly $40 million to address education and unemployment gaps in the African American and other minority communities throughout Illinois. Locally, the Workforce Equity Initiative has been championed by State Representative Carol Ammons.

Parkland College has been participating in the WEI through its Support for Workforce Training (SWFT) program since the WEI's inception. This program provides funding for short-term (one year or less) in careers such as healthcare, transportation and distribution, business and IT services, or construction and manufacturing. Students' tuition and fees are covered through the grant in addition to a weekly stipend. The program also integrates career-specific adult education bridge programs for those who are still developing English language skills or are preparing for college-level coursework.

"SWFT has given Parkland the opportunity to implement a new workforce development from an equity lens and help students overcome longstanding barriers to succeeding in higher education," said Stephanie Stuart, vice president for communications and external affairs and the SWFT grant administrator. "We have served more than 250 students and counting in the program who would have otherwise been unable to access training in high-demand career fields. Its development is having a long-term impact on how our institution serves our diverse, vibrant community."

"When you invest in Parkland College, you are investing in much more than 'just a degree,'" said President Ramage. "You are believing in the worth and value of not only yourself, but the community you call home."

Parkland College Updates COVID-19 Safety Protocols

New COVID-19 Monitoring System at Parkland College

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Parkland College has implemented new COVID-19 safety standards and procedures this week to comply with the recent executive order from Gov. Pritzker for higher education.

In letters to the campus community late last week, Vice President for Student Services Mike Trame announced that phase one of the college's new COVID-19 Monitoring System would begin today. The system includes safety measures such as restricting access to certain entrances around campus, using entry checkers, and tracking vaccination status or weekly testing requirements through the Safer Community app.

"We are continuing to make rapid progress in rolling out the new monitoring system," Trame said, noting that the college is employing a phase-in approach. "We believe that moving through these new requirements in phases is the best way to stay in compliance with the governor's order, build new internal systems, and transition our community smoothly into these new requirements."

In phase one, the college has been gathering vaccination status information from students and employees and has begun utilizing the Safer Community app to verify compliance status. While no student, employee, or visitor is being turned away at any entrance for noncompliance in this phase, the college is restricting the number of entrances to campus in preparation for a comprehensive entry-checking system that will utilize the Safer Community app for students and employees. A map is available for reference.

Administrators say that phase two, the monitoring and facility-access restriction phase, will begin early to mid-October. Available entrances will be restricted to those who are either fully vaccinated or have had a negative COVID-19 test within the last week. Parkland College offers free SHIELD CU COVID-19 testing in room D244.

Parkland College will use the Safer Community app to monitor access to campus facilities. Door checkers posted at the available entrances will determine an individual's access to buildings by checking their app status. Visitors will still be allowed to enter the campus for limited purposes in accordance with the Executive Order.

To help answer questions about the new monitoring system, the college has created an FAQ page at

"Playing God" at Parkland Theatre Second Stage Starts Sept. 30

"Playing God" by Actors' Studio to run Sept. 30–Oct. 3 at Parkland

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The Actors' Studio Series production of "Playing God," written and directed by Felix Crim, will be coming to the Parkland Theatre Second Stage September 30–October 3.

Life imitates art in this sophisticated drama exploring the premeditated murders of a serial killer. Follow our detectives as they unravel the mystery and the reasoning for these gruesome murders. Will the killer be caught? Take the dive into madness in this new work.

Felix Crim directs a cast that includes Spencer Hazen, Madelyn Henson, Alex Noa, Kiah Johnson, Mariah Smith, Liana Reichlin, and Maya Baker. September 30, October 1, and October 2 performances will begin at 7:30 p.m., and October 3 at 3 p.m., in the Parkland Theatre Second Stage.

Tickets are free, but donations will be accepted at the door. Due to COVID restrictions, seating is limited and reservations are required. To make reservations, please visit

To request accessibility-related accommodations, please contact Accessibility Services at 217/353-2338, or email Please submit all requests two weeks in advance of your visit.

This show is rated mature for language and graphic depictions of violence.

Q&A with Katelyn Badger

Adult contemporary students tell their stories

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Katelyn Badger’s story is typical of most Adult Contemporary students who choose to come back and finish their degree, in the sense that it’s completely unique. Every student has their own story to tell, and I am happy to share a little bit of Katelyn’s. I had the pleasure of working with her when she was president of the Adult Student Club, which I sponsor, and I found her to be smart, motivated, and charming—a complete delight to be around. As for her, she enjoyed her time at Parkland so much that she has endeavored to begin her career here as a fiscal program assistant. She recently took a few minutes to answer some questions about her journey. 


Q: What was your favorite part of being an Adult and Returning Student Services student?

A: My favorite part was being able to help start the Adult Student Club which unfortunately was short-lived. I wish that it could have been able to sustain but there just wasn’t a lot of interest. Another thing was collaborating with other students like me who have quit and come back so many times to try and finish my degree. (I changed my degree 6 times.)


Q: Where did you go to high school?

A: I went to Mahomet-Seymour schools.


Q: What was the final factor in your decision to come to Parkland and finish your degree?

A: My mom and I were getting our degrees together and taking classes together. We were having fun with challenging each other on who was going to get the better grade and she ended up passing away in 2012, one semester before she was going to graduate with her associate’s. I ended up quitting school and worked a full-time job. When that job was starting to drain me even further emotionally, my husband and I decided for me to quit the job and go back to school full-time. I chose to do my associate’s in accounting and finally after 10 years of going to school and quitting, I achieved getting my associate’s degree.


Q: How did your Parkland education help you earn your current position?

A: With getting my associate’s in accounting, I was able to get a job in Adult Education here at Parkland as a fiscal program assistant. I absolutely love my job, love my boss, and everyone I work with. I love being able to be in a position that helps students with their goals of getting their GED or learning English as a second language. 


Q: What advice would you give to someone who is considering a return to school?

A: I would tell them, never give up. Keep that goal in your mind and reach for it. Have a support person to help you through. My husband was my biggest supporter in getting my degree. Teachers, advisors, and counselors are there for you. Find a mentor, find a peer that helps you when you don’t understand homework. There are so many people and resources at Parkland that will help you achieve your goals in getting your degree and getting a better paying job.


I did it, a long time ago. Katelyn did it recently. You can do it too. You can reach your academic goals right here at Parkland, and we at Adult and Returning Student Services are here to help you get started.


Call 217/351-2482, email me, or visit room U214 to learn more.


-Tony Hooker,

 Adult and Returning Student Services Advisor