Highland Faculty and Staff Receive Excellence Awards

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FREEPORT (WIFR) — Highland Community College employees joined fellow colleagues on January 9, 2014, to honor individuals with this year’s Excellence Awards. The awards recognize employees for quality work, creativity, honesty, integrity, self-development and excellence in their professional relationships.

A committee, made up of Excellence Award recipients from the previous two years, selected the winners in the following categories: support staff, full-time faculty and administrator. This year’s recipients were Tony Grahame, Alicia Kepner, Samantha Petsche and Daryl Watson. The annual Opel Award was presented to Ken Rausch.

Tony Grahame is a full-time biology instructor. He joined the department in the fall of 1996. Since that time, with little fanfare, he was recognized for his excellence in teaching general education and advanced biology courses. His nomination recognized him for his passion in the classroom, with an almost unanimous opinion that he cares greatly about his students gaining knowledge and skill in the area of biology. Grahame is also known for taking care of all indoor plants at HCC.

Alicia Kepner is the coordinator for Nursing and Allied Health Programs at HCC. Kepner stepped into her new job, learning very quickly what needed to be done to meet the needs of the students. Beginning the new position after running the Medical Assistant program, she worked tirelessly to learn all the aspects of the newly acquired role. She goes the extra distance to assist instructors in the classroom, lab or with clinical sites. Kepner also makes herself available on weekends to give campus tours. She has also worked with the Stephenson County Health Department by bringing them to campus in the fall for flu vaccination clinics. The clinics allow HCC students the opportunity to practice administering flu vaccinations, in addition to getting to know the HCC community.

Samantha Petsche is a full-time student information specialist. In this capacity at HCC, she has to know everything about what goes on at the college to be able to guide students. She has worked with students to understand financial aid and been a part of Bully Prevention Month. In essence, she is customer service for faculty and students at HCC. She is also known for being the person many students seek to help with a particular situation. She also revamped the student orientation, making it a huge success.

Daryl Watson is a part-time faculty member. Former director at the Galena Historical Museum, Daryl has become a fixture at Highland, teaching courses in History, Political Science and Western Civilization. He has often gone above and beyond expectations by supporting HCC in a myriad of initiatives, including the recruitment of dual credit students, visiting with high school administrators about the college’s curriculum and has served as guest speaker in HCC’s leadership programming.

The Highland Community College Foundation annually recognizes one employee with the Opel Award, named for one of Highland’s founders, Don Opel. The award recognizes employees who go “above and beyond” in serving or promoting the College. This year the Foundation presented the award to Ken Rausch, a maintenance worker at HCC. Known as the go to person to repair things in a timely fashion, Rausch will not complete his day until the job is finished. To quote the person who nominated Ken for this award, he said, “Ken is always willing to help.”