The Parkland College Blog

Fracking First Topic of Kaler Science Talks for Fall

UI engineering professor to discuss benefits of hydraulic fracturing process

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The hot-button topic of fracking for oil and gas heads the list of James B. Kaler Science Lectures this fall at the William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College.

University of Illinois engineering professor Dr. David N. Ruzic will present "The Truth (and Huge Benefit) Behind Fracking and Pipelines," Friday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. Admission is $2 at the door with Friends of the Staerkel Planetarium admitted free of charge. 

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for gas and oil, and building pipelines to deliver that gas and oil to where it is needed, has led to energy independence for North America and heralded a huge economic boom for the U.S. Yet the average citizen, and especially one who is young, typically holds a negative impression of these two technologies.

Ruzic will explain what fracking and pipelines are, how they are used, why they are beneficial compared to the alternatives, and why common misconceptions persist about the process.

Ruzic is the Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as well as director of the Center for Plasma Material Interactions. A UIUC faculty member for the last 34 years, he is a Fellow in three different societies and leads an active research group of over 40 people. The university has awarded him the Campus-wide Teaching Award, the College-wide Teaching Award, and several departmental teaching awards. One of his introductory courses on Energy was made into a Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) in Coursera and is available for free on the “Go Illinois” website. Ruzic earned his PhD from Princeton University in 1984.
Following Ruzic’s talk, the Staerkel Planetarium will present its newest fulldome feature, “Experience the Aurora,” followed by its "Pink Floyd’s 'The Wall'" show. Tickets for regular programs range from $5 to $6 per person. For a full show schedule, visit the planetarium website or call 217/351-2446. 

Degree Completion Day Set for Oct. 3

Get advice, info on finishing your degree or certificate

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Area residents who have not yet completed their Parkland College degrees or certificates are invited to figure out what courses they need to finish them, during a special event Wednesday, Oct. 3.
Degree Completion Day will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Parkland's Student Union. Past and current students who want to finish their Parkland College credentials will be able to:

  • receive academic advising

  • confirm their degree program

  • learn how to track their progress toward a degree or certificate

  • see which universities guarantee junior-level transfer status with a completed Parkland credential

  • complete a Petition to Graduate form, if applicable

The event, which includes giveaways and refreshments, will be live-streamed from WPCD FM.
For more information on Degree Completion Day, please contact the Office of Admissions at 217/351-2482 or

National Surgical Technology Week Observed

Students to participate in mock operating room, practicing basic surg tech skills

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Parkland College invites the public to see what is going on in its Surgical Technology program.

The college will observe National Surgical Technology Week (September 16–22) with open houses on Tuesday, September 18 from 1 to 3 p.m. and Friday, September 21 from 10 a.m. to noon in Room L143.
During the open houses, Surgical Technology students participate in a mock operating room, wearing their surgical gowns and practicing basic surgical technology skills. Surg Tech faculty will be on hand to answer questions.
The Parkland College program has been recognized with a Certificate of Merit for a 100-percent pass rate on the national exam given to all program graduates each summer.
Surgical technologists are the only formally trained students prepared to work in the operating room upon graduation. The Certified Surgical Technologist is responsible for providing an optimal surgical environment for the patient. Primarily, in the scrub role, the surgical technologist functions in a sterile capacity during the surgical procedure but also performs many nonsterile duties throughout the day. 
A shortage exists for surgical technologists, and employment opportunities are excellent, according to Janice Grewatz, Surgical Technology program director.
To learn more about the program, contact Grewatz at jlovekamp@parkland.eduor 217/373-3746.

Alum-Designed Memorial for Missing UI Scholar Underway

Garden dedicated to Yingying Zhang now under construction

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It would be one of the most daunting challenges of her career: Design a memorial garden dedicated to missing Illinois scholar Yingying Zhang. But Phyllis Williams knew what she had to do.

She had to draw on her arsenal of Parkland College Horticulture training. After all, she was "one of Kaizad's kids."Memorial Garden for Yingying Zhang

A Champaign County Master Gardener since 2009, Williams first hesitated after receiving her organization's request this summer. It could be "risky" to create a memorial fitting enough to honor the Chinese graduate student, feared dead after being kidnapped from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus over a year ago. Zhang's story was international news, and the tribute garden would be the first of its kind for a student at the campus. 

But then Williams realized that HRT 256, the Landscape Planting Design class she had taken with Horticulture program director Kaizad Irani last spring, held more relevance than ever before. In fact, his class had prepared her for just this moment.

For that semester, Irani, a world traveler, had chosen Chinese gardens as the class focus.

"I thought, 'Well, this is why I took the class—this is it—and so, step up a be a little bit brave," said the longtime Urbana resident and UIUC retiree from Paris, Illinois. "I felt like I had the tools to say, 'Yeah, I'm gonna work on that project.' My toolbox had been packed."

A collaboration of the CCMG, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association and other student groups at Illinois, the 600-square-foot memorial garden will sit at the corner of North Goodwin Avenue and South Clark Street in Urbana, near Campbell Hall. It will lie just behind the spot where Zhang was last seen, as captured on campus video June 9, 2017.Spot for Zhang Memorial Garden

Construction on the garden began Sept. 7 with the pouring of a concrete platform that will hold its granite bench; the platform will also contain the handprints of the student volunteers who are helping with the garden build.

"It's quite emotional, and yet the students really seem to like that element," Williams said. 

Two other poignant elements in the design, ideas contributed by fellow Master Gardener Christine Nordholm, are the garden's color palette of white and green and its winding walkway of "disappearing steps." White is a mourning color in Chinese culture, while green symbolizes purity. The walkway into the garden will include large grey pavers that start out covering the path but then become scarce as they lead visitors toward the bench and platform.

"So basically, by the time you get just over halfway on the path, you'll run out of all but just a couple, and then you'll get to the pad," Wiliams explained. Incidentally, Nordholm, a former art student at Parkland, has also taken Irani's landscape design classes. 

Irani said he was impressed with Williams' design, which includes plantings favored in Chinese gardens: a weeping cherry tree and a white azalea; various types of junipers, hydrangeas and hostas; boxwoods; and more. The plants were selected for beauty, zone heartiness and disease resistance. 

"You have a little bit of color and year-round interest; I thought, 'I couldn't have done any better at all,'" said the professor, who began Parkland's Horticulture program 17 years ago and is set to retire this spring. "This is your goal: you want students to supersede your teaching and take it to a whole other level, and she has."

For Williams, it was Irani's training that brought her Master Gardener skills to the level she needed to compete for landscape design proposals like Zhang's garden. 

"I've learned a lot from the Master Gardeners—botany, plant care, integrated pest management, things like that," she said. "By the same token, I felt like, 'but there's a design element I need to bring to bear.' I really wanted to help plan for success rather than just be surprised if I got it! So, I took Kaizad's classes. Parkland is so accessible."

Now, with the garden's hoses laid and the platform foundation ready, the planting will soon begin. Once the garden is completed, UIUC students and CCMG volunteers will need to maintain it, which could present a challenge, Williams said.

"You don't get a lot of sunshine; it's a bit of a tough site," she explained. "But we couldn't pick the ideal site; we're working with the site that fate gave us."

Yet she hopes the garden will be a point of pride and an important community expression. 

"We're plugging safety to everybody's child who comes here," she said. "It makes a difference." 

A memorial garden dedication is being planned for October.

Ready for a bachelor's or master's degree? Use your Parkland credits! The following colleges will have representatives on hand this fall in the Student Union (unless otherwise noted) to discuss four-year degrees and transfer options.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Tuesday, September 25
Monday, October 29
10 am–1 pm
Representative: ​Nathan Caron

Wednesday, September 26
10 am–1 pm
Representative: Michael Harbin

Tuesday, September 25
10 am–1 pm
Representative: Sgt. Jeremy T. Stillwagon, RSS Champaign

Eastern Illinois University
Thursdays, September 27 and November 8
Friday, October 12
Wednesday, October 24
10 am–1 pm
Representative: Ryan Howard

Loyola University
Monday, October 1
10 am–1 pm
Representative: Victoria Hogle

Olivet Nazarene University
Thursdays, October 4, November 1, December 13
10 am–1 pm
Representative: Sarah Richardson

Aurora University
Thursday, October 18
Monday, November 26
10 am–1 pm
Representative: Barbara McCarthy

Quincy University
Wednesday, November 28
10 am–1 pm
Representative: Justin Ray