INA, Ill. – As a golfer and alum of Rend Lake College, Brandon Bullard of Mt. Vernon can boast about having good fore-sight to see what a quality education at community college could do for both his game and his education.
After graduating from RLC with an Associate Degree with a focus on business administration in 1999, Bullard used his golf skills to earn a sports scholarship to Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where he played for another two years, graduating in 2001 with a Bachelor’s Degree in marketing with a minor in public relations.
Bullard said starting his education at RLC for two years helped him prepare for the day-to-day life of a university student once he transferred.
“More than anything, coming out of high school and going to Rend Lake College definitely helped me prepare to get started at a four-year university,” he said. “I went down to SIU with people who had never been near that scale of an education level and they were freaked out, but I had done it before, so I just hit the ground running. My little brother is the same way. He visited SIU, and shared my sentiment that, right out of the gate, it can be overwhelming.”
Additionally, he said the business classes and golfing schedules from RLC combined to help him better manage his time and education with fun.
“The business classes at Rend Lake College prepared me for the business classes at SIU,” said Bullard. “Time management is also a huge piece of the puzzle for a student athlete. The golf schedule was better at RLC than it was at SIU as far as travel, so kudos to Coach Dave Smith. He really knew the ins and outs of what we were all going through, and he helped us a lot. I don’t know if I would have made it going to SIU first without golfing and everything at RLC.”
Following his graduation, Bullard worked for the Southern Illinois Golf Association as the executive director. He moved to Jacksonville, Fla., where he was also the operations manager for TPC at Sawgrass, home of the PGA Tour Players Championship.
“I got to meet some pretty awesome people while I worked there. You learn a lot catering to and working with that caliber of business people and guests,” he said.
In 2009, Bullard was named executive director of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, a position in which he thrived and became a community fixture. Now, embarking on a new adventure, Bullard is spending most of his time working as the Marketing Director at Rare Chop House in Mt. Vernon, a new restaurant serving steaks and seafood, along with a diverse and exotic menu. Bullard said he accepted the position after years of discussions with Steven Beal, restaurant owner and President of National Railway Equipment Company.
“The job came to me because of my work with the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, where I worked with many area businesses, and one of those businesses was National Railway,” said Bullard. “Steven had done things with me in the past; he’s a big supporter of the Chamber. He knew what his vision was for this restaurant, but he couldn’t do it alone. He’s running a global business, so he came to me with it a couple years ago and I jumped at the chance for this project.”
Bullard accepted the new career and resigned from the Chamber in May of 2013 after five years as the executive director. Now, Bullard said he’s got his hands full with a new adventure.
“I’ve really hit the ground running. It’s been a whirl-wind last couple of months, but it’s exciting,” said Bullard.