MOUNT VERNON, Ill. – The Rend Lake College Foundation honored three Major Gift Award winners Thursday night at its 2012 Annual Dinner Meeting, held at the Mount Vernon Holiday Inn. The common thread among these recipients – they are all RLC graduates who chose to give back to their alma mater.
RLC President Terry Wilkerson received a Bronze Major Gift Award, reserved for contributions exceeding $10,000. Wilkerson, 40, of Dahlgren, was named Rend Lake’s seventh president earlier this year. After graduating from high school in McLeansboro, Wilkerson earned his Associate in Applied Science Degree from RLC in 1992. He transferred to Southern Illinois University - Carbondale where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree and Master of Science Degree. He was an instructor and division chair in RLC’s Applied Science and Advanced Technology Division prior to becoming president. He is also a local farmer. His family’s business, Wilkerson Farms, includes more than 1,000 acres of farmland in Hamilton County. Wilkerson was a finalist for a national Outstanding Young Farmer Award in 2009. He is involved in various community activities and serves as a member of multiple local organizations, along with sitting on the Southern Illinois Collegiate Common Market Board and Southern Illinois Workforce Investment Board.
“I give to the Foundation because it’s important to me that I give back to this institution that has given so much to me,” Wilkerson said. “I am definitely an advocate for supporting RLC through the Foundation and I won’t ask anyone to do anything I’m not willing to do myself.”
RLCF Board of Directors Member Mary Pericolosi, a businesswoman from Pinckneyville, also received a Bronze Major Gift Award. Pericolosi is an RLC alumna who joined the RLCF Board in 2010. She transferred her degree from RLC to McKendree University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in biopsychology. She also completed two years in the occupational therapy program at Washington University. Pericolosi and her husband, Lawrence, are the owners and operators of Custom By Contempri Inc./Gateway Development in Pinckneyville. The company builds neighborhoods; developing commercial offices, churches, community centers, assisted living facilities and more throughout the region.
The third Bronze Major Gift Award winner Thursday night was the Drew family from Benton. This family has supported RLC students for years, in may ways, including the John D. & S.L. Cookie Drew Scholarship. The scholarship honors their mother, who lives in Benton, and the memory of their father, John D. Drew, a longtime Benton attorney who passed away in 2009. Their sons, Bryan and Jason Drew, are both attorneys in Benton and operate the family law firm. Bryan, who serves the college as chairman of its Board of Trustees, said RLC is a family tradition.
“Myself, my mom, my dad, and my brother all got our start with college at Rend Lake,” he said. “We all went there under different circumstances, but all got the start we needed to move forward. My father was the first in his family to go to college and so was my mother in her family. So Rend Lake made a lot possible for our family. It’s important to our family to give kids the good beginning to college that we all had.
“He thought a great deal of Rend Lake,” Bryan said of his father. “This scholarship is just a small way for our family to make sure the name John D. Drew continues to help people like the man did when he was alive.”
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