Highland Community College Foundation Recognizes Distinguished Alumni


FREEPORT — The Highland Community College Foundation presented its 19th annual Distinguished Alumni Awards on Thursday, October 10, at the Freeport Country Club. The distinguished alumni are nominated each fall by friends, family members and peers before the applications are reviewed by a selection committee made up of foundation staff, board members and Alumni Association steering committee members.

This honored distinction is reserved for individuals that exemplify community leadership, demonstrate professional achievement, and believe in the mission of community colleges and higher education. The 2013 award recipients are Jeff Cowman, Anne Cox, Sherri Kornfeind, Chad McNett, Richard Paul, and Scott Peska.

Jeff Cowman
Nominated by Jae Hezlap
Jeff graduated from Freeport High School in 1982 and briefly studied electronics at Highland. After serving as a systems administrator at a local business for 15 years, Jeff returned to Highland and graduated summa cum laude with an associate of applied science degree in information technology. He achieved a perfect grade point average (GPA) and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. Jeff’s CowComp computer business represents diverse business and personal customers throughout Stephenson County, Rockford, Pecatonica, Forreston, and Dubuque. Jeff is currently President of the HCC Alumni Association, Treasurer of Amity, a member of the choir at First Lutheran Church in Freeport, and advisor/leader of Stephenson County Tech Team.

Anne Cox
Nominated by Cindy L. Carter
Anne Cox earned her associate of science degree in 1991 from Highland Community College. In 2002, she earned a bachelor of arts in interdisciplinary studies/psychology from Columbia College of Missouri. Anne has been involved with several organizations helping to implement substance abuse prevention programs. She has over 18 years of experience in the field of health and human services working with youth and families, community coalitions, researchers, community leaders, schools, state and local governments. Anne has been actively involved in charitable events and organizations in the Freeport community, including the United Way and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Sherri Kornfeind
Nominated by Thomas Huber
Sherri has worked for Union Savings Bank for 37 years. She started as a bank teller, and is currently Vice President of Loan Servicing. She is USB’s head loan underwriter and supervises five employees. She serves on the bank’s planning committee, appraisal committee, and the loan committee. Sherri has served on the Freeport Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and has been a Chamber Ambassador for several years. She is active in her church and has been involved in many other community organizations.

Chad McNett
Nominated by Ron and Linda McNett
Chad McNett has come up through the ranks of criminal justice, graduating from HCC with an associate of science degree in 1993, and then from Illinois State University with a bachelor od science in criminal justice in 1995. Chad has also been active in a leadership role with local Boy Scout Troop 33, where he serves as Committee Chair. He coordinates weeklong summer camp experiences for the Scouts, and spearheaded Troop 33’s Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, where the boys traveled to the hurricane-ravaged area to lend assistance and learn first-hand about the value of helping others. He has also coached various youth sports over the years.

Richard Paul
Nominated by Shirley Paul
Dick Paul graduated with honors from HCC with an associate of science degree in 1964. He then graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He received further education at the University of Illinois in railroad engineering. He soon began a job with the Illinois Central Railroad and then Ann Arbor Railroad, before taking a job as Vice President and General Manager of the Mississippi Export Railroad. Over the years, Dick has served as president of the following organizations in the Gautier, Mississippi area: PTA, Chamber of Commerce, United Way, the local school board, Rotary, a local soup kitchen, and the local Boy Scout Council. In addition, he was a town council member for years.

Scott Peska
Nominated by Sharon Peska
Scott Peska earned his associate of arts degree from HCC in 1995, then earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication in 1998 and a master’s in communication in 2000, both from Illinois State University. Scott completed his doctorate of education from University of Illinois in 2009 with a focus on education, organization, and leadership. His dissertation study won the “Dissertation of the Year” award from the Council for the Study of Community Colleges. Since last November 2012, he has “come full circle,” in a sense – he’s back at a community college. But this time, he’s the Dean of Students at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove, Illinois.

A total of 102 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.

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