The Parkland College Blog

Planetarium Kaler Lecture to Spotlight the Beauty of Birds

"Birds of East Central Illinois: Natural Beauty You Probably Didn't Notice"

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The William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College will host a selection of bird photography for the James B. Kaler Science Lecture Series at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 5.

Jeffrey Bryant, a research programmer at WolframAlpha, will present "Birds of East Central Illinois: Natural Beauty You Probably Didn't Notice". The planetarium will offer this lecture to the public for free on Zoom.

During the lecture, Mr. Bryant will show a selection of his high-quality photography. As an avid birder in his spare time, he travels around east central Illinois to observe and photograph various local species. All image subjects were located within a relatively short drive of his home, including in his own backyard. By knowing where and when to look, anyone can get a sense of the diversity of life right here in Illinois.

Mr. Bryant earned a B.S. and M.S. in Physics at Ball State University, focusing his research on variable star systems. As part of his work for Wolfram Research, L.L.C., he composes blog posts about visualizations of astronomical phenomena using the Wolfram Language.

Following Mr. Bryant's Kaler Lecture, the planetarium staff will present Prairie Skies Spotlight on Exoplanets in the same Zoom meeting at 8 p.m. The Prairie Skies show offers a tour of the night sky, and this special program will feature some of the thousands of planets that have been discovered outside of the Solar System. The full schedule of public shows, including Zoom links, can be found on the planetarium website. Recordings of past shows are available on their YouTube channel and private shows can be booked by emailing

Parkland Announces New Program for Science Scholars

New Parkland Science Scholars program will support low-income students

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Parkland College is launching a new program to support low-income students in the natural sciences.

Parkland Science Scholars, funded by a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation, seeks to empower full-time, low-income science students to work toward graduation and transfer to four-year institutions.

Parkland’s Natural Sciences faculty members recognized that low-income students face specific challenges during their academic journey. These students had lower graduation and transfer rates, according to Dr. C. Britt Carlson, associate professor of chemistry.

"Low-income students often have to juggle school with outside work, which can add stress and make it more difficult to complete a degree," Carlson said. "These students often face additional challenges, such as being the first in their family to attend college and being less familiar with college processes and support services."

Led by three full-time Natural Sciences faculty members, biology instructor Dr. Chelsea Lloyd, associate professor of physics Curtis Shoaf, and Carlson, the program will put structures in place that will support students through graduation.

These structures include financial support; one-on-one faculty, peer, and UIUC graduate student mentoring; summer research experiences; club participation; and a course specifically designed for the scholars.

"Parkland Science Scholars will support students through scholarships opportunities for leadership, mentoring, and summer research," Carlson said. "Students will gain experience related to their future careers, make professional connections, and will form a community of learners that will sustain them beyond their two years at Parkland."

Current funding will support four groups of 10 students each over the five-year grant period. Students will receive tuition support of $2,450 each semester for up to four semesters. After completing the program, students will also receive recognition by the Parkland College Board of Trustees.

"Students who participate in Parkland Science Scholars will graduate with skills, experiences, and connections that will serve as a foundation for success throughout their academic journey and professional careers," Carlson said.

Eligible students must:

  • be pursuing a degree in science (including, but not limited to physical sciences, engineering sciences, and biological sciences except clinical fields)

  • be from low-income families as determined by FAFSA

Preference will be given to students who have a GPA of at least 2.5 or have earned at least a 21 on the ACT. To remain in the program, students must stay in good academic standing and attend program-coordinated events and activities.

Applications will be accepted soon. For more information about Parkland Science Scholars, please visit or contact Carlson at

Dental Hygiene Clinic to Offer Free Screenings for Immigrants

Immigrant Dental Screening Day, Monday, March 1, from 3 to 7 p.m. in the Dental Hygiene Clinic

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Parkland College's Dental Hygiene Clinic will host a free "Immigrant Dental Screening Day" on Monday, March 1, from 3 to 7 p.m. in the Dental Hygiene Clinic, Room L150 at the college campus.

This event is for adults 18 and older and is by appointment only. Parkland College Dental Hygiene program faculty and students will provide dental screenings for gum disease and tooth decay at no cost to patients. Patients will fill out a COVID screening form along with a medical history; appointments are approximately 30 minutes.

Once patients have been screened, Dental Hygiene staff will schedule any necessary appointments for free follow-up cleanings, dental x-rays, oral health education and fluoride treatments, and will make referrals for advanced dental work.

Individuals interested in this special event may contact the La Línea program (based in the University YMCA) at 217/417-5897 to make an appointment for a screening or for more information.

"Immigrant Dental Screening Day" is sponsored by the Parkland College Dental Hygiene program and Club Latino, La Línea, and the Wesley Food Pantry at Parkland College.

Parkland Trustees Approve Tuition Freeze, Policy Updates

Board of Trustees general meeting, February 17, 2021

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Parkland College plans to keep next year's base tuition rates the same as 2020-2021.

At its regular meeting Wednesday, the Parkland College Board of Trustees announced that effective summer session 2021, Parkland's in-district rates will remain at $148.50 per credit hour (all Tier One courses) through the 2021-2022 academic year. This recommendation followed the annual Budget Workshop for Parkland Trustees led by Chief Financial Officer Christopher Randles.

"Parkland is an outstanding value, offering substantial return on investment for students ready to take the next step in their academic journey or career path," said President Ramage. "Holding our tuition rates flat for this upcoming year demonstrates our commitment to remaining affordable and competitive, particularly during this challenging time. We are making this possible through tight fiscal management and with unanimous support from our Board of Trustees."

The board also approved new changes to the Policy and Procedures Manual, as presented at its last meeting by the Parkland College Association. Policies updated include 3.01 (Federal Title IX Law) and 9.07 (Sabbatical policy).

In other business, trustees approved:

  • the 2021-2022 Course Fee Schedule

  • a memorandum of understanding between Parkland College, the Illinois Community College Board, and District 505 schools for a dual-credit program fee structure

  • the purchase of:

    • ALEKS PPL testing units from McGraw-Hill Global Education Holdings LLC, $60,000

  • the filing of the following grant applications:

    • Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO): Manufacturing Training Academies

  • acceptance of funds from external sources:

    • National Science Foundation (NSF): Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM)

    • U.S. Department of Education: CARES Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF): Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students (CRRSAA allocation)

    • U.S. Department of Education: CARES Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF): Institutional Portion (CRRSAA allocation)

  • personnel appointments:

    • Julia Hawthorne, Director of Advising Services, Advising Services

    • Joshua Houston, Building Systems Lead, Physical Plant

    • Cindy Reynolds, Administrative Assistant, Health Professions

Parkland College Foundation Fall 2021 Scholarships Now Open

Fall 2021 scholarship application due March 15

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The Parkland College Foundation is now accepting scholarship applications for Fall 2021 through the Parkland Scholarship Manager.

The Foundation will host two virtual scholarship workshops: March 2 at 6 p.m. and March 9 at noon, via Zoom and streamed to Facebook, for current and prospective students interested in completing an application.

Current students are encouraged to apply for Fall 2021 scholarships, even if they are unsure if they'll be enrolling for fall. Prospective students must apply to Parkland College at before they can apply for Parkland scholarships. 

Current students can visit the Scholarship Manager and use their ParklandOne credentials to login. Once logged in, they will be asked to complete the main Scholarship Application, which will match them with scholarships they are eligible for through the Parkland College Foundation. Students must upload either two letters of recommendation or enter the email address for two recommenders and write an essay. Some scholarships may require additional information or essay work; students will see these additional opportunities once they have submitted the main Scholarship Application.

Once the Scholarship Application is submitted, the Parkland College Foundation committee will appoint the scholarships and notify the winners. Online notification and distribution of awards will be handled through the Scholarship Manager system.

Applications for Fall 2021 scholarships are due Monday, March 15, at 5 p.m.

For need-based scholarships, students must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at FASFAs must be submitted by March 15, 2021.

For questions about scholarships, please contact the Financial Aid and Veteran Services office at 217/351-2222 or; or the Foundation office at 217/355-3165 or