WHITTINGTON, Ill. (Oct. 23, 2013) – Words of thanks and praise filled the halls of the Rend Lake Resort recently as Rend Lake College students and RLC Foundation donors met to share stories, laughs and a delicious dinner.
At the banquet, givers are able to learn more about their beneficiaries over a nice meal, and they pose for a photo together. During a short program, everyone hears about scholarships given through the Foundation, including perspectives from contributors and recipients. RLCF CEO Shawna Manion started the dinner program with words of appreciation and cheer.
“We are all here for the students tonight, we’re here to help them and to encourage them.” she said. “What the students at RLC are able to accomplish and the magnitude of the obstacles they are able to overcome is nothing short of inspiring. I want you all to see what a student can do with a scholarship, how far it can take them, how much it can help. It’s amazing to witness.”
Manion spoke specifically about scholarships for Pinckneyville students, citing the community and donors for the success of a scholarship drive last year. In 2012, there were 11 scholarships totaling about $12,000 awarded to Pinckneyville students, but that number jumped to 25 scholarships totaling over $20,000 this year.
“One thing I can say about Pinckneyville is they remind me of ‘The Little Engine That Could’,” said Manion. “They are small, but they certainly are mighty. When they say they want to accomplish something, they do it. They are a very inspirational group of people who are dedicated to their students.”
There were four additional speakers who took the podium Monday night, each to give their individual perspective as a donor or recipient. First up was RLC President Terry Wilkerson, a scholarship contributor.
“From my perspective, I want to thank all the donors for helping me by helping my students,” he said. “As the President, I have a great appreciation to the donors, and to the Foundation for raising this money and investing it at Rend Lake College. And as a donor, I get it. It’s all about the students. To the students I say, keep your options open and keep working hard.”
Endowment contributor Lori Ragland, RLC Dean of Community and Corporate Education, also spoke about her contributions in the name of her late son, Clayton Charles Ragland.
“I wanted to start a scholarship endowment in memory of my son, but I wasn’t sure how I could afford to do something like that,” said Ragland. “The actions of other donors inspired me to make it happen. Clayton’s name now lives on through something tangible that provides a sense of peace, fulfillment, and pleasure in helping others. We all face challenges in our lives, and I encourage you to overcome your obstacles and don’t give up on your dreams. Rend Lake College is truly about the students; let us help you on your journey to graduation.”
From the student’s perspective, Jessica Owen of Pinckneyville and Megan Jackson of Mt. Vernon addressed the crowd. Owen spoke of her individual experiences at Rend Lake College and the hardships she overcame to work on her degree in nursing, and Jackson, a student worker in the Foundation Office, talked about the various types of students receiving scholarships this year.
This year, the banquet celebrated over 180 recipients and 70 different scholarships; some going to a single student and others going to multiple recipients. In addition to those honored Monday night, more than 400 other scholarships have been awarded to RLC students this year.