Awards and Achievements

2020 Award Recipients

Outstanding Young Alumnus Award: Becca Schwieter '14


Although her hometown of Gilson is small, Becca Schwieter’s dreams have always been big. Her goal to become a veterinarian will be realized this month as she graduates from Midwestern University College of Veterinary Medicine in Glendale, Ariz. She truly exemplifies the vision of Carl Sandburg College, using her dreams to change her life. After graduating with highest honors and an AAS from Sandburg in 2014, Schwieter transferred to Knox College, where she received a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in Spanish. She will finish her doctor of veterinary medicine program with a 3.472 GPA and plans on coming back to the Knox County area to begin her career.

During her time at Sandburg, Schwieter was highly involved in the TRIO Student Support Services program, consistently mentoring other students when they were struggling, especially in math and science classes. She has continued this collaboration with her fellow students in veterinary school, holding leadership positions and working alongside her peers to organize events through her veterinary fraternity, Omega Tau Sigma.

Schwieter embodies all of Sandburg’s core values, but it is her integrity and respect that led to her nomination as this year’s Recent Alumnus Award winner. Autumn Scott, director of TRIO SSS and Schwieter’s nominator, calls her an “optimist who sticks to her values, even when the odds are against her. She always does the right thing — even when it is the hard thing.” Respect has helped carry Schwieter into her career, but with that respect comes great gratitude. Her educational groundwork laid at Sandburg has paved the way for Schwieter’s success, and for that, she is always grateful.

Her love of animals translates into the volunteer work she does through the Illinois Horse Fair Queen Pageant, Omega Tau Sigma, work at Midwestern University’s mobile clinic and as a heart rate monitor during the Land of the Sun Endurance Ride. When she is not riding her horse, Sugar, Schwieter loves photography.


Distinguished Alumnus Award: Kiley Thomas Quinn '99


It didn’t take long for this year’s Distinguished Alumnus Award winner to find her path to success. Kiley Thomas Quinn graduated from Sandburg in 1999 with an Associate in Applied Science. Although her plans included finishing her bachelor’s degree at Western Illinois University, Kiley was recruited out of her program of study to work in the newspaper industry just months into her coursework.

At the age of 19, Quinn began her career at the Peoria Journal Star in sales. Within three years, she was promoted to manager and then again to higher management positions within the industry just a few years later. While Quinn loved the work she was doing, she sensed the shift in print media and moved her career back to the Galesburg area. Since 2011, she has led the marketing department for Cottage Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine, dedicating her career to promoting health and wellness.

Quinn’s leadership doesn’t stop with her career. A member of PEO Chapter BB in Abingdon, Quinn works to celebrate the advancement of women through the power of education. As a current board member of the Galesburg Noon Rotary, her service as the youth service director and in other capacities across the years embodies the main tenet of Rotary: “service above self.” Because of this dedication to the community, Quinn was honored by Rotary International as a Paul Harris Fellow. Quinn also belongs to the women’s leadership group WIN (Women’s Issues Network) in Galesburg, was a key stakeholder in the We Fit Together healthy community organization and served on the Hedding Grade School PTO in her hometown of Abingdon.

Supporting education is important to Quinn and her husband Jared. Together, they are raising their two children, Kennedy (11) and Graham (6), in Abingdon.

“I support education by showing up. Showing up every day for my family, for my faith, for my job and co-workers,” Quinn said. “I support education by teaching my children that education is a vital part of their lives, that positive thinking, being kind by helping others and having a great moral compass will shape them to be productive citizens and only strengthen our society.”


Nominations are now open. 

Please follow the links below to fill out your nomination form. All nominations may be turned into the Foundation Office or emailed to


Distinguished Alumnus Award
Nominees must -

  • have completed a degree or certificate from Carl Sandburg College
  • demonstrate notable achievements in career field
  • demonstrate specific philanthropic or public service activity that supports the community and/or College
  • have achieved recognition at a national level
  • provide inspirational impact or significance
  • have continued interest in and support of education and community colleges

Nomination form: Alumni-Giving/Alumni-Awards/nomination-form1.docx

Outstanding Young Alumnus Award
Nominees must -

  • have completed a degree or certificate within the last 10 years from Carl Sandburg College 
  • demonstrate outstanding professional achievement in career field

Nomination form: Young Alumni Nomination Form


Distinguished Service Award

This award serves to recognize leadership within the college community, excellence in performing the tasks required by the position held at the college, service in organizations outside the college community, humility, and sincere effort in self-growth. Retirees and past employees are eligible for nomination.


Nomination form: Alumni-Giving/Alumni-Awards/nomination-form.docx


Please call 309.341.5349 if you have questions or for more information about the awards and nomination requirements.