INA - Rend Lake College President Mark Kern issued a challenge to scholarship recipients at the 17th Annual RLC Foundation Scholarship Dinner held Oct. 26 in the Great Room at Rend Lake Resort.
After covering a few milestones – such as opening the doors in 1967 and the first class graduating in 1968 – that have paved the way to this year’s 40th Anniversary for the college, Kern said, “In 25 to 30 years from now, Rend Lake College will be celebrating it’s 60th, 65th or 70th anniversary and you can come back to this room and be a donor helping someone else as you have been helped.”
The annual RLC Foundation Scholarship Dinner is one of five major events that the college hosts each year. The next will be the RLCF Annual Dinner at 6:30 p.m., Dec. 7, at the Mt. Vernon Holiday Inn.
The Scholarship Dinner honors the financial support from donors as well as the students who receive that support. The dinner enables Rend Lake College students to say “Thank you” in person for the financial assistance they receive and for those in the community to see, first-hand, how their generous contributions are helping students realize their career goals.
The level of commitment to local education, expressed through those generous contributions, enabled the RLC Foundation to award $350,000 in scholarships to more than 300 individuals this year. That figure, combined with tuition waivers for academic and athletic scholarships, total nearly $1 million in financial assistance this fiscal year. According to Kern, $350,000 is a “far larger figure than the number of other colleges in the state are able to provide, although they are much larger and are located in much more affluent areas.”
In addition to the many scholarship opportunities through the RLC Foundation, the college maintains one of the most affordable tuition rates in Illinois as well as a textbook rental program that enables students to avoid the expensive task of purchasing textbooks, Kern explained. Both factors have made a “big dent in the quote, ‘I would like to go to college, but can’t afford it,’” he stated.
He said non-traditional students, which typically experience more of a challenge in affording a college education than traditional students, make up 39 percent of the 4,900 students currently enrolled at RLC.
“We are meeting that challenge, but the challenge is still there,” he said.
In regard to the importance of a college education in the modern workforce, Kern said, “ In my 38 years I have spent at Rend Lake College, there has never been a time that education beyond high school is more important than now. There has also never been a time that a two year degree carried as much weight as now.”
Speakers for the evening were introduced by RLC Foundation CEO Pat Kern and included student recipients Ashley Barrett (Sesser - RLC LPN Endowed Scholarship, Ribella Palada Family Memorial Scholarship), Emily Overton (Benton - Andrea Boucher Memorial Scholarship, Benton Education Association Scholarship, Benton Lions Club Scholarship) and Travis Zettler of Sesser. Brad Evilsizer – a scholarship donor along with his wife, Mary Ann – also presented a speech in the packed Great Room.
Zettler was the recipient of the Emil Perpich Family Memorial Scholarship and the coveted Fornear Family Scholarship. Following Pat Kern's announcement that he had been awarded the Fornear Family Scholarship, a stunned Zettler retook the stage and simply stated, “All I can say is thank you, thank you very much.”