FREEPORT — The Highland Community College Foundation presented its 18th annual Distinguished Alumni Awards on Thursday, October 18, at the Freeport Country Club. The 2012 award recipients were Peggy Badgett, Gene Dikkers, Patricia Dunn, James Frisbie, James Hastings, James Hastings, Jay Kempel, Candice (Reuber) King, Douglas Martin, Matt Summers and Joseph Vondra.
Peggy graduated in 1980 from Freeport High School, attended Highland Community College and graduated from the University of Iowa. Peggy honed her pharmacy career working for 12 years in research and development at Abbot Laboratories. She returned to northwest Illinois, and has worked at Hartig Drugs in Stockton where she ran a multiple sclerosis support group for three years. She is a volunteer hospice caregiver for FHN and serves on the Orangeville School Board. She has also authored the book, “Romancing the Bike.”
Gene graduated from Freeport High School in 1974 and Highland Community College in 1977. He returned to Highland again and then graduated from Columbia College in 1999. He is also a 2009 graduate of the HCC Leadership Institute. He started working at Met Life Insurance Company in Freeport, and has been an Auto Claims Manager for 12 years and a four-time nominee for “Best Of The Best.” At his encouragement, his wife and daughter also attended Highland.
Pat has been with Highland Community College and the Foundation for over 20 years, and has followed her passion for working with students since her beginning as a student worker on campus in the 1990’s.She later graduated in May 2012 from Columbia College. Other awards she has received are Sigma Beta Delta, Alpha Sigma Lambda, Freeport Buddy Award, HCC Bert Travenner Memorial Award and the Opel Award. She currently represents the Highland Foundation as Director of Operations.
James was in the first Highland Community College graduating class of 1964. As the college’s third graduate, he remained in the Freeport-area where he wanted to watch Highland’s progression. He completed his undergraduate work at Northern Illinois University. Upon graduation, Jim began teaching at Dakota High School, where he remained for 33 years. He also attained his master’s degree from Northern Illinois University.
Jim graduated from Lena-Winslow High School in 1970 and attended Highland Community College from 1970 to 1972. In May of 1979, Jim graduated from the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois in the top 70 of his class. Jim has been the President of the Northern Illinois Milk Quality Council for 12 years and on the Board of Directors at the Lena Community Bank for 19 years. The Lena Vet Services and Bed & Biscuit is owned by all eight veterinarians practicing at the Lena Vet Clinic.
John lives in Warren with his wife Jennifer where he is currently serving and also running unopposed as the State’s Attorney in Jo Daviess County this November. He graduated from Warren High School in 1999, Highland Community College in 2001, Northern Illinois University in 2003 and continued on to the Northern Illinois University College of Law, where he graduated in 2007 with a Juris Doctor. After receiving his law degree, John joined the Stephenson County State’s Attorney’s Office in 2007.
Jay graduated from Highland Community College in 1982 and received a Bachelor of Science degree from Illinois State University in May 1984. He was hired at the Stephenson Service Company as a salesman in October 1984, and worked his way up through the various departments to become General Manager in November of 2002. Under Jay’s leadership, the company earned “Performance Improvement Awards” in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In 2009 and 2010, the Stephenson Service Company received the “Winners Circle Sales Excellence Award.”
Candice (Reuber) King
After graduating from Freeport High School, Candice King attended Highland Community College. She continued on to Northern Illinois University and graduated in May 2004 and received her Geographic Information (GIS) Certificate the following year. She began working as the Weekend Meteorologist at the NBC station in Rockford. After having her daughter in 2007, Candice decided to take a little break from broadcasting to stay home and raise her little one. She is now happy to still be a part of the WTVO Morning News Team.
As a high school student, Doug had a job at the local Dairy Dream, and by age 17, purchased and operated it as a sole-proprietorship. He started at Highland and went on to Rockford College. After graduation he joined a Rockford accounting firm until 1987 when he accepted the position as Director of Tax at Newell Rubbermaid. In 2002, Doug assumed the role of Vice President and Treasurer, and he was recently named for the position of Chief Financial Officer for the Newell Rubbermaid Company. Doug and his wife, Martha, have five children and presently live in the Atlanta area.
Matt Summers attended Highland Community College from 1991 to 1992 and then transferred to Western Illinois University. He became a police officer in Freeport in 1995 and is currently a sergeant in the Freeport Police Department. He also earned a Master’s degree in Law Enforcement and Justice Administration from WIU. He has led the Citizen Police Academy for a number of years, and is the department’s only certified leader for Taser training and the alcohol compliance coordinator.
Joe graduated from Highland Community College in May of 1983 and the University of Illinois in May 1985. Upon graduation, Joe returned home to the Apple River-Warren area and was employed as a loan officer at the Apple River State Bank. At the bank, he worked his way up the ladder and was a member of the bank’s Board of Directors. He was appointed CEO of the bank on January 1, 2010, but passed away shortly after. Christine Vondra accepted the award on his behalf.
A total of 96 individuals have earned the Highland Community College Distinguished Alumni Award since nominations began in 1995. For additional information about the Highland Community College Foundation Distinguished Alumni Awards, go to www.highland.edu or contact the Foundation at 815.599.3413.