Rock Valley College Wins Statewide Recognition

Representatives of Rock Valley College attended the Illinois Community College Trustees Association (ICCTA) Awards Banquet last Friday, June 10, in Chicago, Illinois.

We are pleased to announce two award winners this year: Ann Kerwitz, Assistant to the President, and Evelyn Molina, Student Trustee 2021-2022.

Ann Kerwitz was presented the Professional Board Staff Member Award, which recognizes exemplary performance in support of an Illinois community college board of trustees.

With nearly 15 years of experience, Ann serves the Rock Valley College board, president’s office, and executive leadership team with grace and tact. During her tenure, she has worked with five college presidents, providing valuable onboarding and transition for four of them. Her research, review, and guidance helped develop the current board policy manual, and she volunteers to review existing policies to ensure that they are up to date. Ann is also considered RVC’s resident expert in board bylaws and Illinois Open Meetings Act requirements.

Evelyn Molina was presented the Gigi Campbell Student Trustee Excellence Scholarship, which recognizes exemplary leadership among peers.

Evelyn is the first student trustee to participate in Rock Valley College’s Running Start program, a dual enrollment initiative that enrolls high-achieving high school juniors and seniors in full-time college classes. One of her first duties as student trustee was to revamp the Student Government Association, doubling its participation. As a sign of her academic success, last month Evelyn received both her high school diploma and her associate degree in science.

Rock Valley College was also fortunate to have four additional award nominees:

Board Trustee Robert “Bob” Trojan was nominated for the Ray Hartstein Trustee Achievement Award. This award recognizes current trustees who show exemplary board service and leadership. Bob has served as a Rock Valley College trustee since 2015 and currently holds the office of board secretary. His passion for career and technical education shines through all his endeavors. RVC has been enriched due to his leadership in enhancing and improving the college’s manufacturing curriculum, opening a state-of-the-art Advanced Technology Center, and moving from NJCAA Division III to Division II athletics. As the board liaison to the college foundation, Bob also champions efforts to bridge the gap between the two entities.

Felipe Gelacio Jr. was nominated for the Gregg Chadwick Student Service Scholarship. A life-altering accident that resulted in partial paralysis and seven years in prison had a profound effect on Felipe’s perspective. As a DEI student worker and TRIO club president, he tirelessly helped others and strived to make Rock Valley College a place where all students feel valued and appreciated. The first in his family to earn a high school diploma, Felipe needed remedial classes before starting college-level coursework and is now preparing to pursue his bachelor's degree in manufacturing engineering this fall.

Dietmar Goellner, President and CEO of Hennig, Inc., was nominated for the Distinguished Alumnus Award. This award symbolizes the professional, technical, and humanitarian accomplishments of individuals who have graduated from an Illinois community college. As a high school student with a low ACT score, Dietmar was told by his guidance counselor that he had a 3% chance of obtaining an engineering degree. She suggested that he redirect his focus to securing a factory job in his father’s manufacturing company. Unwilling to let go of his dream of becoming an engineer, Dietmar enrolled in Rock Valley College and completed 81 credits. He now holds two master’s degrees in engineering and business administration while leading the family’s $150 million international business.

Last, but not least, Rock Valley College was nominated for the Equity and Diversity Award, which recognizes exemplary commitment by an Illinois public community college board and its chief executive officer to achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion in the college’s education programs. RVC adopted its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Vision Statement in September 2021 to become a campus that embodies trust and a sense of belonging. DEI is woven throughout the college’s 2022-2024 Strategic Plan, bolstered by the new Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion that includes a cabinet-level Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and two full-time DEI Specialists. Rock Valley is also moving toward becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution as its Hispanic student enrollment increased to a record 23% in the fall.

“We are honored to be recognized with these awards and associated with the nominations,” said Dr. Howard Spearman, President of Rock Valley College. “We are RVC proud of our Golden Eagles Family.”