Alumnus Snapshot:

Name: Stacey Rucker

Hometown: Galesburg, IL

Degrees Received: Carl Sandburg College ‘97

Carl Sandburg College - Associate in Applied Science: Administrative Office Manager ‘99

Knox College - Bachelor of Arts, Major Anthropology/Sociology, Minor Business Management ‘05

Current Employer: Carl Sandburg College, Galesburg Campus

Community organizations: Vice President for the Carl Sandburg College Alumni Board, Galesburg Noon Rotary Club, and Women’s Issues Network

Family: Parents: Connie and Dale (passed away in 2010) Rucker

             Sister Shelley, Brother-in-Law Rob, 15-year-old niece, and an 8-year-old nephew

Awards and honors: Dean’s List Carl Sandburg College and Knox College, Outstanding Administrative Office Manager Student Award - Carl Sandburg College, Rotary International: Paul Harris Fellow Recipient

Stacey shares how attending Carl Sandburg College and the TRIO program gave her the encouragement she needed to apply to Knox College and helped to change her career path:

During my sophomore year in high school, I was tutored in geometry by a Knox College student and loved everything about being on Knox’s campus. I mentioned to my mom an interest in enrolling at Knox, but I was sure attendance would be out of reach because of my grades and the cost.

By my senior year, I was still undecided on a career path, and moving away for college was not of interest to me. I was awarded a scholarship and registered for Sandburg’s fall semester. Classes were offered on Fridays at that time, so I scheduled my classes for Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. My first Sandburg class was Introduction to Psychology, at 8 a.m., with instructor Bob Johnson.  

As I was working towards my Associate in Science, the idea of attending Knox remained on my radar. On two occasions I sat in Sandburg’s Library and started completing the Knox College application, but each time I was convinced my attendance was no more than a dream, and the applications went unfinished.

After graduation I was lost on what to do next, with still no career decision in mind, I decided to enroll in Sandburg’s Administrative Office Manager program. I enjoyed the classes and it turned out I was a good typist!

I consider myself blessed and fortunate to have a supportive, loving family because I found my early 20's difficult to navigate. A mix of uncertainty, fear of failure, and false notion that everyone else knew where they were headed became my recurring life theme. 

Fast forward to 2003, and unsatisfied with where I was, I finally completed the Knox College application. Since I graduated from Carl Sandburg College, there was a scholarship opportunity to attend Knox. I was nervous about going in as a non-traditional student and worried about being “too old” to start school again. It was a difficult adjustment getting acclimated to classes, but as a first-generation student, I took advantage of being involved with TRIO Services and their staff helped talk me through my concerns and provided a support network for two years.

I am grateful to Carl Sandburg College because otherwise, I would have never made it to Knox. It took me a little longer to reach the destination, but I do not regret the journey, because it helped shape who I am today.

Many students make friends and memories during their time at Sandburg. As a member of staff, Stacey continues to make those memories on campus:

I am still adding to my Sandburg memory box. I would have to say two Sandburg highlights are the individuals and working in a setting with a beautiful backdrop. I met a lot of wonderful individuals when I was a student and I feel lucky to continue meeting new people and working with a group of hardworking, caring employees. I have been told by graduating students how nice everyone is and their wish would be to stay at Sandburg.

When I was a student there was no Crist Student Center and the campus buildings were not connected, I did not have a car, so I walked outside from building to building. I remember it had been a super rainy summer before I began my first semester of classes, and the fall campus welcome mat was rolled out in a big way with outstanding leaf colors. Some of my favorite memories have been walking around campus during the various seasons. The campus has always had a terrific, tranquil landscape and we have some amazing sunsets out here!

Alumni stay connected to Sandburg in a multitude of ways. For Stacey, she reconnected by returning to campus permanently: 

I started working at Carl Sandburg College in November 2011 as a Student Information Assistant with the Marketing Department. I later worked for the Foundation as a Resource Development Specialist; afterward, I was hired as the Career & Corporate Development Coordinator. My current position as Director of Corporate & Leisure College gives me an opportunity to work on a variety of tasks and no two days are the same. The department offers non-credit courses, business training opportunities, youth programs, and educational day trips. I was excited to join Sandburg’s Alumni Board because it is a chance to connect with alumni and assist with events.

The Alumni Association is honored to have Stacey as the Vice President. She shares her inspiration for joining the Board:

Over the years I have witnessed how the College has helped contribute to the area workforce. I speak with residents who completed one class at Sandburg on their path to a higher education degree and students who graduated to become dental hygienists, radiologists, nurses, automotive technicians, administrative assistants, welders, etc. I enjoy hearing the individual stories of how attending Sandburg helped shape their lives. We are truly fortunate to have Carl Sandburg College in the community and the educational opportunities it provides.

I was inspired to join the Alumni Board because a significant amount of my time has been spent at Carl Sandburg College, first as a student and now as an employee. My goal is to contribute the gift of giving back.