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READ LIKE A WRITER, a teaching blog

HONORED TO BE A PARKLAND COLLEGE NOTABLE ALUMNI

By Christine Kohler

I am deeply honored, humbled, and gobsmacked to have been selected as one of 50 Parkland College Notable Alumni. Parkland College in Champaign, Illinois, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Parkland is the third largest community college district in Illinois. More than 280,000 students have attended Parkland College since 1967.

According to the website, the “50 notable alumni…have made a contribution or achieved notable success in their lives.”

If I have achieved anything, it is through the strength and grace of God.

Honestly, I don’t feel deserving of this honor. I don’t know that I’ve contributed more or achieved a higher degree of success than other students who attended this fine college. If I’ve done anything notable, it was by being a forerunner.

My husband, Mike, and I were the first in our families to attend college. At the time we received our bachelor degrees, about 25 percent of the US population had earned undergraduate degrees. By the time our own children and nieces and nephews were in school, college was expected. Today that generation in our family has produced teachers, an engineer, a lawyer, and a naval officer, plus other degrees and vocations.

On a wider scale, I was a forerunner for women in journalism. When I grew up in Ohio the only female role models in journalism were Dorothy Fuldheim on the nightly news out of Cleveland and Brenda Starr in the Sunday comics. When I entered journalism in the early 1980s only about 34 percent of newsrooms comprised of women, and most of those worked in Lifestyle sections. Few women covered “hard news”, and even fewer were political reporters and foreign correspondents. So I see myself as a forerunner for female reporters today who make up as much as 60 percent of newsrooms, and also now write and broadcast sports as well as hard news.

I didn’t travel this journey alone, though. My husband and I met at Kent State University, Ohio, and leap-frogged getting various degrees and certifications. Our children, Michael and Jennifer, were good sports about our career paths that often required long hours and trips abroad.

An editor at the San Antonio Express-News said while interviewing me for a position as a copy editor, “Your husband sure mucked up your career.” That’s one way to look at my checked-board life, moving on average of every two years due to military reassignments. But another way to look at it is that I never would have ended up at Chanute AFB, and subsequently at Parkland College.

But I’m mighty glad I did. It was the perfect school for me at the perfect time in my life. At Parkland I was able to tie together a mish-mash of quarter and semester hours from two different universities. At Parkland I graduated with a 4.0 average that gave me a firm foundation for scholarships later at the University of Hawaii, where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree, majoring in journalism. Parkland College is where I studied secondary education with an English emphasis and was able to do my student teacher-observation in a local high school. If I have achieved any notable successes in my journalism and teaching career, much of the credit goes to Parkland College. I thank the college and professors for helping me be a forerunner for future generations to achieve even greater contributions and successes.

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