DO ANYTHING - Clint Eilerts tells the Rend Lake College Class of 2010, "You can do anything," as RLC President Charley D. Holstein looks on. Eilerts, the 31-year-old co-owner of The Arthur Agency and a RLC alumnus, provided the Commencement address this year. His speech was relevant, creative and funny, and is already widely considered one of the best graduation presentations ever given at RLC. CLICK HERE for a larger image.
BRIGHT FUTURE - Emily Dixon of Pinckneyville was one of 725 students to graduate from Rend Lake College, Friday night, at the college's 43rd Annual Commencement. CLICK HERE for a larger image.
CELEBRATION - A graduate gives Industrial Maintenance Professor Chris Nielsen a high five before heading into the 2010 Rend Lake College Commencement ceremony at James "Hummer" Waugh Gymnasium. A total of 724 associate degrees and 509 certificates were conferred this year. CLICK HERE for a larger image.
INA, Ill. – Rend Lake College’s 43rd Commencement was a rousing success Friday night, with 724 associate degrees and 509 certificates conferred this year.
The Commencement address was delivered by Clint Eilerts, an RLC alumnus and co-owner of The Arthur Agency. Eilerts’ address was relevant, creative and funny, and is already widely considered one of the best graduation presentations ever given at RLC. Considering he is a highly-talented, award-winning designer, writer, producer and marketer; it came as no surprise that the McLeansboro native and Mt. Vernon resident would incorporate action, visual media and an edge into his speech.
“I want to applaud Mr. Eilerts on a job well done,” said RLC President Charley D. Holstein. “I think he was a very relative guest speaker for our student body. He’s only 31. But that alone isn’t enough really. His style of combining comedy with mixed media and an affirmation for his advice was the secret I think. He is very good at what he does.”
Eilerts started with a video he produced on campus. He used a microphone, camera and man-on-the-street approach to finding out just how much RLC students knew about their 2010 Commencement speaker. After asking numerous students if they had ever heard of Clint Eilerts, the collective response was a resounding “no.” But that was all part of his plan.
“My brother is a successful attorney. My mother has her master’s. My father had his master’s. My wife has her master’s. But I’m the guy up here giving the speech.”
His ties to RLC are many. In addition to being an alumnus, Eilerts first met his wife, Shelly, while he was a student there. His grandfather helped start and run the mining program. His father went to RLC. His mother attended classes at RLC and worked there for 17 years. His step-father taught at RLC for 29 years.
“I guess looking back, maybe my presence tonight does seem fitting,” he said. “The fact is I believe in Rend Lake. I consider myself an unofficial ambassador for the college. I’ve tried to stay connected with the college and I encourage all of you to do the same.”
He moved on to “Clint’s Top 10 Pieces of Advice for the Rend Lake Graduate,” a la Letterman. There were points of comic relief like “#3: Use the Rest Room” and “#7: Don’t Wear Spandex.” And there were points of great advice for the college graduate – like “#8: Have A Mentor,” “#6: Prepare to be Disappointed” and “#1: You Can Do Anything.
“You can do anything,” he said. “Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. ...You don’t have to be a doctor. You don’t have to have graduated at the top of your class. You don’t have to have a million dollars to be successful or to live a happy life. It’s inside you. You can do it. The fact that you’re sitting here tonight proves that. You can do anything you want. You want to backpack across Europe? Go for it. You want to backpack across Benton? Knock yourself out. You are all capable of so much.”
“I really liked it,” said Lea Schulte, a graduate from the Associate Degree Nursing program. “It was fantastic. It wasn’t boring and I thought it made the ceremony move at a good pace. It was captivating and inspirational, but with humor. I thought he did a really great job.”
The ceremony featured an overflow room for the first time this year to account for expected over-crowding in the standing-room-only James “Hummer” Waugh Gymnasium. A live feed flowed from a camera in the gym - operated by Baldwin Media – to the overflow room where those who did not wish to stand in the gym could sit and enjoy the ceremony. The overflow room, which seats about 80-90, was packed, as was the gym.
“We couldn’t have pulled it off without the hard work put in by our IT and physical plant staff,” Holstein said. “Coming up with a comfortable fix for the overcrowding problem was only part of the overall solution. Our staff did a great job making it work.
“It was a great ceremony,” he added. “We strive to make Commencement memorable for our graduates and all the family and friends who show up to support them. We know it’s all about those memorable seconds that pass when each graduate crosses the stage to get their degree or certificate. But it’s very pleasing when our graduates and their loved ones can take something from other parts of the graduation process.”