MATTOON — The five newest members of Lake Land College Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Society have very different career paths that have taken them all over the state and nation.
And while there is that distance, they will all always have a common ground — their gratitude for the college and for faculty members who encouraged them to strive for their dreams.
The list of inductees included Kari Rincker, class of 2000, of New York; Bob Black, class of 1992, of Charleston; Dr. John Killough, class of 1992, of Altamont; Tom Grunloh, class of 1982, of Effingham; and Tony Halsey, class of 1991, of Bloomington. All of the inductees credited Lake Land College for giving them the foundation for a successful career.
Rincker is the principal attorney/owner of Rincker Law, PLLC in New York. While at Lake Land, she majored in agriculture.
“I am very thankful for my experience at Lake Land College,” Rincker said. “From the top-notch agriculture program to the challenging and diverse courses, Lake Land was the perfect transition for me.”
She added that the instructors were approachable and helped her excel academically. One of those instructors was her father, Curt Rincker, agriculture division chairman.
“I have fond memories at a very young age of attending classes and listening to livestock judging reasons with him on straw bales. The communities surrounding Lake Land should be proud that they have such a high-class institution in their backyard,” she said.
Black is the lead auto technician at Midas Muffler in Charleston. While at Lake Land, he majored in automotive technology.
“The open and friendly environment at Lake Land College gave me the confidence to explore new and different opportunities in my career and my life,” Black said. “It also gave me the skills and knowledge to evaluate using the resources at hand to come to a concrete conclusion or decision.”
He credited his instructor at the time, Steve Johnson, for impacting him the most to pursue his career in automotive technology. Black held an apprenticeship with Johnson for two and a half years.
Killough is a self-employed podiatrist. While at Lake Land, he majored in pre-medicine.
“The solid foundation I received at Lake Land College successfully prepared me to finish my undergraduate program as well as my doctorate program,” Killough said. “Lake Land helped me feel intellectually and socially equipped to continue my academic pursuits.”
Killough initially enrolled at the college with the intent of pursuing journalism. However, after taking one emergency medical technician course, he quickly discovered his passion resided in the medical field. He credited the college’s faculty for helping him find his path and transform into the individual he needed to succeed.
“The most extraordinary characteristic shared by the instructors was that they all managed to not only provide a remarkable learning environment, but they also made it enjoyable to learn. Because of the instructors, I learned about assuming responsibility for myself, being prepared and moving ahead,” he said.
Grunloh is the president and CEO for Grunloh Construction Inc. in Effingham. While at Lake Land, he majored in business administration.
“It is easy to see now that Lake Land College was an influential piece of development into my adult life,” Grunloh said. “Wally Taylor was a teacher who seemed to give his all in my development as a student. Bob Orr was a teacher that I looked up to and one who has become a good friend.”
He added that it was his business classes that gave him an advantage when he began his family-owned construction business. Being enrolled at Lake Land enabled him to learn about computer technology, which proved to be another benefit for his business.
Halsey is the sergeant for the Illinois State Police. While at Lake Land, he majored in law enforcement.
“As a child, I always dreamed of a career in law enforcement,” Halsey said. “Attending Lake Land helped that dream come true.”
Halsey said that his instructors, Joyce Allen and Bill Little, made learning enjoyable. “Joyce was a wonderful teacher and a mother figure. Bill taught me the life skills I still use today,” he added.
After graduating from Lake Land, he went on to finish a bachelor’s degree at Eastern Illinois University. Upon finishing, Halsey began his career in the social service field but quickly found a position with the Illinois State Police in 1999.
“Working for the Illinois State Police has been an ultimate blessing. I am so thankful Lake Land gave me the opportunity to study law enforcement,” he said.
The class of 2011 will join 59 others who have been inducted into the Lake Land College Distinguished Alumni Society since its introduction in 2007. The Distinguished Alumni Society was established by the Lake Land College Alumni Association in 2007 to recognize alumni for their outstanding accomplishments in their chosen profession, dedication to the college and commitment to the advancement of their community.