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Four Graduates Recognized with President’s Leadership Awards at 59th PSC Commencement Ceremony
Andrea Small --  Prairie State College Andrea Small -- Prairie State College
Chicago Heights , IL
Thursday, June 07, 2018

PSC President Winfree and award recipients at 59th Annual Commencement ceremony.

Four of the Prairie State College (PSC) 2017-2018 graduates received special recognition for their leadership, both on and off campus, during the 59th Annual Commencement Ceremony held on campus last month. Hector Guevara of Chicago Heights, Aaron Horta of Chicago Heights, Chanel Smith of Matteson and Jeanine Koger of Harvey were honored with the President's Leadership Award. The award is presented to graduating students who, during their years at PSC, have combined excellent academic achievement with outstanding co-curricular contributions to the college.

Hector Guevara is the 2017-2018 student trustee, serving on the PSC Board of Trustees. Since beginning his college career, Guevara has been involved in all aspects of leadership, including clubs and volunteer opportunities. In addition to his role with the Board of Trustees, Guevara also was a member of the All Latin Alliance, Sustainability Club, Alpha Beta Gamma, TRiO, and the Student Government Association. He also has volunteered for a number of organizations on campus and in the community and works diligently to bringing attention to social issues and resources, as well as advocating for students. Guevara recently attended the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute's (USHLI) 36th Annual Conference with his fellow students. The PSC Board of Trustees also supported Guevara's nomination for the 2018 Illinois Community College Trustees Association Gigi Campbell Student Trustee Excellence Award. He graduated with his associate degree in spring 2018. He hopes to transfer either to Governors State University or the University of Illinois at Chicago to earn his bachelor's degree.

Aaron Horta began taking classes in the High School Equivalency program at PSC. After successfully completing that program, he enrolled in a degree program at the college. On campus, Horta was the founder, president, and Student Government Association representative for the 2nd Chance for the Gifted, Educated, and Dreamers (2^CGED) Club. As an officer in the STEM Club, he was involved in organizing events and workshops for STEM students. He also worked in the Adult Basic Education Department, meeting with students interested in the High School Equivalency program, providing encouragement, and also worked as a math tutor. He also has volunteered at Foundation events and on-campus student events, including the 2018 Darwin Day. In the community, he is an active member of the Chicago Heights Lion's Club, and along with his church, St. Angus, and Comunidad En Accion, initiated the Chicago Heights DREAM Act Awareness March in October 2017.  Horta recently attended the USHLI 36th Annual Conference with his fellow students. He is a recipient of the Foundation's Robert Christopher Award, and graduated with an Associate in Science degree, studying engineering. He plans to continue his engineering studies at the Illinois Institute of Technology, where he hopes to earn both a bachelor's a master's degree.

Chanel Smith served as president of the Nursing Club since starting the program in 2016. Very active in college activities, she often organized and participated as a volunteer in many events on campus, including the World Aids Day Fundraiser, toiletry collection for local homeless shelter, toiletry collection for Manteno Veterans Home, a clothing drive for Hurricane Victims, and the Halloween Fun Fest. She also volunteered to serve lunch for families of sick children at The Ronald McDonald House. Smith also was instrumental in creating a position of Student Government Representative for the Nursing Club, ensuring the club could be more involved in college events. She is graduated with an Associate in Science Degree in nursing.

Jeanine Koger was president of PSC's chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK). In that role, she played a central part in organizing the chapter's participation at the Illinois Region of PTK Honors Institute and Leadership Conference, hosted by Lewis & Clark Community College in Godfrey, Ill. During the conference, Koger helped put together the chapter's presentation on how to prepare for the next level and how to best make a successful transition to a four-year institution. Under her leadership, the PSC chapter hosted a very successful "Be the Match" bone marrow donor registry drive. At the college, she also was president of Psi Beta, the Community College National Honor Society in Psychology. Koger most recently was recognized as the recipient of the 10th Annual Dr. Leslie Tischauser Social Science Academic Achievement Award, which annually recognizes one outstanding second-year student who has excelled in a course of study in one or more of the social sciences disciplines at PSC.

Prior to graduation, students are nominated for the award by PSC faculty and staff members, and Winfree selects the winners from those nominees.

"It is my intent, in selecting the students who receive this special award, to recognize those students who have made significant contributions toward improving and developing the intellectual, social, cultural and athletic fabric of our community," said PSC President Dr. Terri L. Winfree. "All the nominees come highly recommended by the faculty and staff. Each of this year's recipients is very deserving of this honor, and I'm very proud of everything they have accomplished," she said.

Prairie State College is a two-year community college offering associate degrees, technical and career certificates, and adult, corporate, and continuing education. The college fosters collaborative relationships that empower students to achieve their education and career goals. The college embraces its diversity, nurtures life-long learning, and supports community and economic development. For more information, visit prairiestate.edu.

Andrea Small
Prairie State College
Chicago Heights, IL
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