2012 - Ruth Waller
Ruth Waller has been selected as Richland’s Distinguished Alumnus for 2012. Ruth graduated from Richland Community College with an Associate of Arts degree in 1976. Ruth went on to obtain her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Illinois in 1980 and a Juris Doctor Degree from Southern Illinois University School of Law in 1987.
Upon graduation from law school, retuned to Decatur to practice as a private attorney. Ruth is currently the Senior Supervising Attorney for the Child Support Enforcement Division in the Macon County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Ruth has spent many hours working with area youth, encouraging them to complete their education and reach their goals through persistence and hard work. Ruth is actively engaged in the community and serves as a role model to all who meet her.
2011 - Brett Swallow
Brett Swallow of Decatur, Illinois, has been selected as Richland’s Distinguished Alumnus for 2011. Brett obtained his Associate in Science from Richland in 1988. He then received a B.S. in Accounting from Eastern Illinois University in 1990 and graduated from ACB’s National School of Banking at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut, in 2004.
Brett spent nine years in Internal Audit at Archer Daniels Midland Company before transferring to Hickory Point Bank and Trust as Vice President in 1999. In 2001, Brett was promoted to Senior Vice President at Hickory Point Bank. In 2009, Brett was promoted to his current position of Executive Vice President. Brett is responsible for all accounting, finance, and operational functions, including day-to-day management of the bank’s funding needs and investment portfolio. In that role, Brett chairs the bank’s ALCO (Assets and Liabilities Committee) and works with ADM’s treasury department on a regular basis to coordinate funding and investment decisions. Brett has over 15 years of experience in the banking industry performing a wide range of functions.
2010 - Roger Snyder
Roger Snyder of Los Alamos, New Mexico, has been selected as Richland’s Distinguished Alumnus for 2010. Roger obtained his A.A. in Engineering from Richland in 1988. He then received a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois, a M.S. in Engineering from the University of Maryland, graduated from Stanford University with an Organizational Mastery of Project Management, graduated from George Washington University with an Advanced Masters in Project Management, completed the Senior Executive Fellows Program at Harvard University, completed Nuclear Power Training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and completed a Contracting Officer Training Program at the Defense Acquisition University.
Currently, Roger is Deputy Manager for the Department of Energy (DOE)/ National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) in Los Alamos, New Mexico. He oversees operations of Los Alamos National Laboratory, a >$2 billion annual enterprise responsible for maintaining the Nation’s nuclear deterrent, promoting non-proliferation on the world stage, and performing cutting edge science.
Roger also engages regularly with academia and students as an accreditor for the ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) and in his Department of Energy (DOE)/National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) capacity.
2009 - Mindy Sanders
Mindy Sanders of Sherman, Illinois, was selected as Richland’s Distinguished Alumnus for 2009. Mindy obtained her Surgical Technology Certificate from Richland in 1998, and her Associate of Science Degree in Surgical Technology/Pre-PA in 2000, graduating with academic honors. She went on to obtain her Bachelor of Science Degree in Physician Assistant Studies in 2007 from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
Currently, Mindy is a Physician Assistant Certified (PAC) with Springfield Clinic, LLP at the Wabash Medical Center in Springfield, Illinois. During the past 15 months as a PAC, Mindy has had the opportunity to diagnose and treat thousands of patients. On a daily basis, she utilizes the information gained through her courses at Richland Community College and realizes the importance her community college education at Richland holds in her career.
2008 - Liz Swords
Liz (Mundy) Swords of Decatur, Illinois, was selected as Richland Community College's Distinguished Alumnus for 2008. Liz obtained her Associate of Science Degree from Richland in 1985. She went on to obtain her Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Millikin University and received the John and Eula Leighty Award for outstanding research in the field of biology. Liz will soon graduate with high honors with her MA in Biological Sciences from the University of Illinois in Springfield. Liz is also the recipient of many honors and awards that include the Research Achievement Award and the Outstanding Achievement Award for Research and Development from A.E. Staley Manufacturing Company. Liz also has contributed to two peer-reviewed publications. Currently, Liz is the Special Projects Coordinator for the Research Department at Decatur Memorial Hospital. At DMH, Liz coordinates special projects related to cancer clinical trials. She tackles challenges like how to enlist minorities in clinical trials for cancer treatment and prevention. She has a special interest in recruiting Amish women to participate in breast cancer trials as well as emphasizing the importance of mammograms to the underserved African American population. Liz also has oversight of a grant that focuses on educating community leaders and healthcare professionals about cancer clinical trials and how that relates to advancements in medicine.
2007 - Nathan M. Carroll
The 2007 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year was Nathan M. Carroll, of Fairbanks, Alaska. Nathan obtained his Associate of Science degree from Richland in 2002 and gave the student address at the Commencement Ceremony. He went on to obtain his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering (2004) and Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering (2005) from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Nathan also received academic honors as the recipient of the 2001 Association for Facilities Engineering Award and the Illinois Association of County Engineers Award in 2004.
Currently, Nathan is a Geotechnical Engineer for Shannon and Wilson, Inc. in Fairbanks. In this position, Nathan has performed structural and geotechnical engineering functions and many design projects for companies that include Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, Trans Alaska Pipeline System; Petro Star Refinery, foundation design for a new crude tower and crude heater; Corps of Engineers, quality control and assurance for excavations, compaction requirements, and foundation construction; and Alaska Railroad Corporation, levee construction review and inspection for use as the foundation for high-speed rail.
2006 – Kathie Whitley
Kathie obtained her Associate of Science degree from Richland Community College in 1984. She went on to obtain her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois in 1987.
Kathie is the Vice President of Employee and Labor Relations at Archer Daniels Midland. She has worked at ADM since 1987, and currently oversees employee relations and labor contracts for over 18,000 employees in Canada, the United States, and the Caribbean.
2005 – Paul R. Rosteck, Jr.
Paul received an Associate of Science from Richland Community College in 1974, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from Millikin University in 1976, and his M.S. in Biological Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati's College of Medicine in 1979. Paul spent his career working as a Senior Research Scientist in the Systems Biology Department at Eli Lilly Company in Indianapolis, and now retired, he lives in Nineveh, Indiana.
While doing research for Lilly, Paul participated in the development and commercial launch in 1984 of recombinant human insulin, Humulin, the first human pharmaceutical product developed with recombinant DNA technologies. He subsequently contributed to the development and commercial launch of the recombinant human growth hormone, Humatrope.
Paul built and supervised a major research group in genomics and DNA sequencing at Eli Lilly from 1985 through 2001; participating in the development of Lilly's corporate strategy for biotechnology and genomics research. One special note: Paul participated in the isolation and characterization of BRCA1, an early onset breast cancer gene.
Paul also initiated and participated in the complete genome sequencing of the pathogenic microbe Streptococcus pneumoniae, responsible for serious respiratory and ear infections in humans. The project provided a complete understanding of the genetic composition of this organism and identified many potential targets for therapeutic intervention.
Paul now works providing scientific consulting for various biotechnology organizations; he has authored or co-authored 47 publications and is an inventor on 16 issued U.S. patents. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society and the American Society for Microbiology.
2004 – Marla Holder Robinson
Marla graduated from RCC in 1981 with an Associate of Arts degree. She is currently Director of Human Resources for District 61 - Decatur Public Schools.
After finishing her studies at Richland, Robinson earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Millikin University and her Master of Science degree in Education Administration from Eastern Illinois University.
Robinson has worked in various capacities in the education field. She started out as a teacher. Five years later she went on to become principal of Garfield Montessori Magnet School where she wrote a grant for which Garfield was the only school in the state to receive the Federal Magnet School Assistance Program funds worth $1.5 million.
Professionally, Robinson is a member of the Illinois Association of School Administrators. Personally, Robinson's community involvement includes being active in the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, Delta Sigma Theta Service Sorority and the NAACP. She also sits on the YWCA Board of Directors.
Robinson credits her family for helping her to be successful. "I have not had to face what I consider obstacles because my parents did not allow us to buy into such thinking. Even though neither of my parents went to college, I knew as far back as I can remember that I would go. My mother, I am proud to say, went to college at age 50 (at Richland and Millikin) and is now a fellow educator in District 61," says Robinson.