Justin Dam

Engineering Student 
T.S. & Juanita Ballance Foundation Scholarship Recipient 

Engineering has always been an interest of Justin’s, from building with Legos to building Rube Goldberg machines from erector sets and objects found around the house. “I’ve always found math, science, and puzzles fascinating. With financial constraints, my passions didn’t feel like they could be any more than hobbies.” Because of this scholarship, Justin is able to turn his dreams to reality. After receiving an associate’s Degree in Engineering from Richland Community College, Justin plans to transfer to The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and hopes to work in engineering to develop life-changing technology.

3E5A7174 min

Shiann Curry

Horticulture Student
Andreas Family Scholarship Recipient

Receiving this scholarship means that Shiann is able to focus on her multiple passions, horticulture, entrepreneurship, and motherhood. Shiann tells us “Without you, reaching my dream of entrepreneurship and higher education would be much harder to obtain and I would undoubtedly, otherwise, have to sacrifice the time and attention rightfully owed to my daughter, who turned three in December of 2022. Though she is much too young to truly understand the effects of your generosity, she will feel my appreciation as I tuck her in at night, instead of beginning a shift at a second job, just to help cover the cost of higher education.”

After receiving an AAS in Horticulture and an AAS in Business management, Shiann will transfer to complete a bachelor’s degree in Horticulture as well as a Masters’s Degree in Botany. While she is studying she is developing her own business with the knowledge she is gaining along the way. She plans to open an expressive plant shop that caters to the needs of the community and promotes healthy self-expression and self-care. Her goal is to make the connection between nature and humans clearer and to teach others to utilize nature to better themselves and their community in a sustainable way.

3E5A7758 min

Jacob Watkins

Class of 2023 Graduate
Ritchie G. & Sandra T Barnett Endowed Scholarship Recipient 

Jacob is a 2021 graduate of Mt. Zion High School and Graduated in May 2023 from Richland Community College with his associate degree in Business. Jacob served from 2022-2023 as a Student Trustee. Jacob will transfer to Millikin University in Fall 2023 to study Sports Management. His dream is to work in the front office for the St. Louis Cardinals or Indiana Pacers.

Jacob Watkins Student Trustee

Dana J Thomas

Class of 2011, 2022, 2023 Graduate
Dr. Joseph & Martha Schrodt Nursing Scholarship Recipient 

Dana graduated from Richland Community College in 2011 with her LPN Certification. Attending Richland empowered Dana not only to be a strong nurse but to follow her passions in leadership and community organization as well. The educators and students gave her the support she was unaware she even needed to be successful and has affirmed her calling to “pay it forward” in the Decatur community as much as she can.

Although Dana had her dream job as a Nurse Case Manager, the pandemic forced her job to be eliminated, leading her to return to working as a bedside nurse. Last year taught Dana that nothing is promised and she needed to make her dreams a reality. This realization led her to found a nonprofit called “Affordable Activism.” Her first project is the “Make Our Mark Initiative” which will highlight overlooked history-makers from minority and marginalized groups in the community, and bring them the attention that has systemically not been afforded to them.

Dana shared this advice for students following in her footsteps. “Set goals and get your education. If I can do it anyone can. Especially with the help of RCC.”

Dana thomas

Dana Lynne May

Graduated in May 2021 with AAS Surgical Technology
John Ullrich Foundation Scholarship Recipient

Dana is mother of two beautiful children and made the decision later in life to go back to school and chase a dream that she had for a long time. She wanted to show both of her children that no matter your age or circumstances if you put in the hard work you can accomplish anything you put your mind to, if you have the drive behind it. Dana is looking forward to my future, bettering herself, her family, and growing as a person. She wouldn’t be able to accomplish this dream without the support of our scholarship donors.

Dana may

Jeffrey Combs

Class of 2022 Graduate
Scherer Honors Scholarship Recipient 

The capstone of Jeffrey’s time at Richland is achieving the Scherer Honors Scholarship, allowing him to acquire outstanding culinary skills while expanding his studies. This variety of coursework added new perspectives and interests to his life and to his pursuit of a career as a chef. Jeffrey’s mantra is to “prepare good food for people as they come together to enjoy good food” and he hopes to repay the generosity of Foundation donors by making lives better through the universal language of food.

Jeffrey Combs