INA, Ill. - The Rend Lake College Foundation celebrated students and supporters Thursday night at the 22nd Annual RLCF Scholarship Banquet. Highlights included speeches from contributors and recipients, an award presentation and the introduction of soon-to-be Foundation CEO Shawna Hall who will succeed Pat Kern at the turn of a new year.
RLCF Assistant Director Hall, of Mt. Vernon, will take over for Kern when she retires Dec. 31. In her opening remarks, Kern explained that this year her role for the banquet was a supporting one.
Speakers for the evening included art students Cassandra Rowe and Cortez Hodges, both of Mt. Vernon; RLC President Charley D. Holstein; Endowment contributor Dr. Gary Sweeten; and Challenge Grant contributor Carol Rudofski who sponsors the Craig V. Rudofski Memorial Scholarship in honor of her son.
Craig Rudofski died at the age of 14 as the result of injuries suffered in a 2004 four-wheeler accident. His mother talked about why the family established the memorial scholarship. She said part of the reason was to provide local students the educational opportunities she never had. She asked potential contributors in the room to create a life-changing event for a student by supporting a scholarship to RLC. Four students were selected for the Rudofski scholarship this year. They are Dakota Church of Opdyke, Emily Halfacre of Opdyke, Jesse Krutsinger of Bluford and Fernando Jacinto of Mt. Vernon.
One reason the banquet is held each year is to create some face time between benefactors and beneficiaries. This year 170 recipients and 104 different scholarships to RLC were celebrated. Some go to a single student while others go to multiple recipients, such as the Hamilton County Telephone Foundation Scholarship with 17 this year.
Underscored by a long list of accomplishments at RLC in the past year, Holstein's comments addressed both donor and student. He thanked the supporters and reminded the recipients not only say thanks for their generosity, but to use their support as it was intended - the means to a better future.
Since it was her first time as chief coordinator of the event, Hall got to hand out her first RLCF award - a Foundation Bronze Major Gift Award to Sweeten for the Dr. Gary Sweeten Endowment Scholarship reaching a milestone level of support. This year's recipient of that scholarship is nursing student Lauren Rue of Mt. Vernon.
According to the RLCF, in addition to those honored Thursday night, more than 200 other scholarships have been awarded to RLC students this year.