2024 Alumni Awards

The Illinois Community College Trustees Association's Distinguished Alumni Award and Pacesetter Award  recognizes the many success stories of Illinois' community college students. 

Nominations for the 2024 Distinguished Alumni Award and Pacesetter Award are now being accepted. Prior nominee names must be submitted each year to be considered for an award. Family members and/or partners/spouses of the nominee may not submit an award nomination form. Following the Monday, February 5, 2024 deadline date, the award review committee will convene and evaluate each nominee's application. 


  • have completed a recognized program of instruction or attended at least 30 semester hours at an ICCTA member college (Carl Sandburg College)
  • show outstanding success and distinction in chosen field
  • have humanitarian service that has proven greatly beneficial to society
  • possess continued interest in and support of education and community colleges
  • demonstrate overcoming life's obstacles

2024 Distinguished Alumni Award Nomination Form



  • have completed a recognized program of instruction (including dual credit courses) or attended at least 30 semester hours at an ICCTA member college (Carl Sandburg College) after June 30, 2013
  • show outstanding promise and distinction in chosen career/field of study
  • have humanitarian service that has proven greatly beneficial to society
  • possess continued interest in and support of education and community colleges
  • demonstrate overcoming life's obstacles (especially those who were non-traditional students)

2024 Pacesetter Award Nomination Form

All nomination forms and support materials are to be submitted to Stacey Rucker, coordinator of alumni and advancement communications, in the Carl Sandburg College Foundation office (E207) or to srucker@sandburg.edu. Nominations are to be submitted no later than Monday, February 5, at 8 a.m. 

Questions about the ICCTA Alumni Awards nomination process may be directed to srucker@sandburg.edu or 309.341.5330. 


Prior Alumni Award Recipients

Carl Sandburg College Distinguished Alumni Award

2022 - Stacy Bainter '00

2021 - Tina Burgland Veal ‘92

2020 - Kiley Quinn ‘99

2019 – Darci Heap ‘08

2018 - Craig Willis ‘90

2017 - Dr. Karmen Hopkins ‘00

2016 - Robert Mason ‘72

2015 - Dr. Judy Glaser ‘75

2014 - Judge Thomas Keith ‘87

2013 - Jim Purlee ‘70

2012 - Susan Swartwout ‘87

2011 - Cynthia Fitch ‘98

2010 - Cynthia Kiffer '70

2009 - Joshua D. Gibb ‘00

2008 - Brenda Stewart Clevidence ‘89

2007 - Bonnie Smith-Skripps '71

2006 - Sandra Gavin ‘95

2005 - Tara Miller ‘97

2004 - Dave Burns ‘88

2003 - Dr. Lori Sundberg ’77, ‘15

2002 - Dr. Christine Baumgardner ‘88

2001 - Dr. Lannie Cation ‘85

2000 - Sharon Graham ‘91

1999 - Linda Foster ‘85

1998 - Victor Miller '83

1997 - Betty Thal

1996 - Rose Stockman ‘76

1995 - Larry Schwartz '68

1994 - Daniel Baker ‘75

1993 - Ann Murdock ‘83

1992 - Jan Lundeen ‘86

1991 - No award given

1990 - Louis Gamage '86 & Mary Louderman '86

1989 - Janice Champion '77

1988 - Donna Medina ‘78

1987 - Gerald Strom Jr. '74

1986 - John Delawder III '71

1985 - Russell Orwig ‘82

1984 - Daniel Bailey

1983 - Jerry Latherow '71

1982 - F. Dale Cozad '69

1981 - Maren Kay Carlson '78

1980 - Daniel Baker '75

1979 - William Campbell '70

Carl Sandburg College Pacesetter Award

2022 - Dakota Hicks '17

2021 - Cassandra Sherwin ‘14

2020 - Becca Schwieter ‘14

2019 – Kassie Karssen-Schoon ‘13

2018 - Krista Winters ‘06

2017 - Matthew Wolford ‘08

2016 - Elvith Santoyo-McNaught ‘10

2015 - Travis Nesby ‘03

2014 - Trevor Davies ‘06

2013 - Naomi Wai ‘01

2012 - Ashley Swick ‘05


2023 Alumni Award Recipients



2023 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

From an early age, it was evident Anya Pshenychny had a passion for pursuing her ambitions, a determination to succeed and a positive outlook to make her dreams a reality. Born in Kyiv, Ukraine, Pshenychny and her family came to the United States in 1994. At age 15, Pshenychny began work in the food service industry to support herself. She later worked more than 40 hours a week while completing her studies at Carl Sandburg College. In 2010, she graduated form Sandburg with an associate in applied science in marketing/mid-management with no student debt. 

After graduating from Sandburg, Pshenychny earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing communication from Columbia College in Chicago. Pshenychny has been employed with Paramount since 2012 in various roles, currently as a Senior Account Executive. During her employment, she has continuously met or surpassed sales goals that included exceeding the 2020 sales quota by 400% in just nine months during a challenging marketplace.

Last November, she returned to the Carl Sandburg College campus for an in-residence program where she connected with current students and participated in a panel discussion. She has volunteered time assisting at animal shelters and additional humanitarian organizations. In 2022, Pshenychny was named a Chicago Advertising Federation Rising Star Recipient, which honors the difference makers propelling the communication industry forward.

“My life has been shaped by a community college education by providing me the opportunity to transfer to a four-year college debt free. I worked 40-plus hours a week as a waitress while completing my studies at Carl Sandburg College. The affordability and flexibility at Sandburg allowed me to have the opportunity of balance and financial security, which was important to me when I was selecting a school. I was initially interested in nursing, then dental hygiene, but ultimately decided on marketing/mid-management. Having the flexibility to explore these options made it much easier for me to find what I was most passionate about while pursuing my education. Sandburg prepared me with general education courses (math, science and English) and courses more aligned with marketing and business (economics, marketing, management), giving me a well-rounded education. Sandburg was a great foundation for general education courses before I transferred over to Columbia College Chicago. By focusing on marketing/mid-management, I was able to get my credits transferred and finish my BA at Columbia in two years. Today, I regularly mentor young professionals and college students interested in the media industry and with younger students, I emphasize the value and impact my experience at Carl Sandburg provided me.” 



2023 Pacesetter Award Recipient 

As a Carl Sandburg College student, Angel Peterson fell in love with education and the process of learning. She continues to carry that same passion in to her own classroom as a teacher striving to push students to new academic heights.

After graduating from Sandburg in 2016 with an associate degree, Peterson transferred and earned her bachelor’s in elementary education from the University of Northern Iowa. Today, she is a third-grade teacher at Silas Willard Elementary in Galesburg. She’s also working to complete her master’s in education in curriculum and instruction at Western Illinois University with an anticipated December 2023 completion date.

Along with her time devoted to teaching, Peterson serves on various school committees including Social Emotional Learning, Curriculum Leaders and the Family Event Planning. In late 2022, Peterson was one of 16 selected nationwide to participate in the highly competitive and prestigious Fulbright-Hays Program that gave her the opportunity to travel to the Philippines for a one-month dimmers culture and educational experience.

In her community, Peterson serves as president of the local Prairie Players Civic Theatre. She has tremendous compassion for all and has opened her own home as a foster parent to children in need of a loving home. She has cared for youth ranging in ages 3-16, children with limited English proficiency and children working through traumatic situations.

“Originally, I did not intend to do more than the minimum at Sandburg to get on with my college and career life. However, a friend pointed out my dislike for the college stemmed from this attitude. She challenged me to join one thing just to see what would happen. This one thing snowballed into many opportunities including: Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, TRIO Support Services, Women of Character, student ambassadors and work study programs. The community I was building also translated into the classroom. While I knew I wanted to be a teacher due to my love of working with children, it was not until Sandburg that I fell in love with education and the process of learning. Most distinctly, it was my class led by Kylie Price, assistant professor of developmental English, that influenced my trajectory. She inspired me to consider a world where I took myself seriously through pursuing higher degrees, prestigious programs and lofty career goals. I also took advantage of the travel opportunities available. I enrolled in classes that paired with field research experiences in New York, China, and Europe. Sandburg got me my start in traveling the world! Today, I am a third-grade elementary teacher working to complete my first master’s degree. I owe a great deal of appreciation to Sandburg who invested in me and provided the opportunities to truly find who I am as a person.”