by Carmen Allen, Ed.D.
I’m pleased to write about Lincoln Land Community College (LLCC) because the community college system is where higher education began for me, and it’s where my career continues to be highly satisfying. Recognizing struggling students, finding ways to help them, and later watching them graduate is an enormous reward every year. My journey to LLCC had some twists, turns and interesting side roads.
After graduating from high school in Charleston, Ill., my choices for college were mostly driven by where I could play volleyball. I had been a four-year high school player and loved the sport; so, I wanted to go where I could continue playing. I chose Lake Land College in Mattoon, Ill., because the coach promised that I could play without having to spend a freshman year “on the bench.”
I have never regretted that decision. Playing two more years of the sport helped develop my knowledge and skills that the classroom couldn’t provide – teamwork, perseverance and physical fitness. I also received an excellent education in computer programming which easily transferred to my junior year at Eastern Illinois University (EIU) in my hometown.
After attending senior job fairs at EIU and with a bachelor’s degree in hand, I was offered a job in Springfield at Franklin Life – a prestigious life insurance company. My career goal was to be highly successful in business and the field of technology. I enjoyed working as a computer programmer and an information security specialist for five years. My next position was with Central Illinois Public Service Company (CIPS) for six years working as a database specialist and corporate trainer.
When CIPS announced the closing of its Springfield location due to a corporate merger, I was faced with the shock of job loss and was forced to evaluate what to do next. When LLCC placed an ad for a teaching position requiring work experience and a degree in computer technology, I answered with lightning speed.
I got the job, and it was the best decision I ever made. I’m telling this story because I think it’s important for anyone making an education decision to understand how common my experience is to today’s student. There is still time to register for classes this fall, and there are many reasons for attending an outstanding community college such as LLCC.
Here’s why. First, the high quality of education offered by LLCC is proven by how well graduates transfer to universities and by how well they ease into employment. Equally important is that LLCC offers courses at convenient times and locations, online and in-class, by faculty who put students first. Also, students may qualify for financial aid and scholarship assistance. The affordability of LLCC significantly reduces the burden of student loan debt experienced by many university graduates today. Finally, LLCC offers a wide range of beneficial services including student clubs, career counseling, tutoring, mentoring and advising.
Although my journey to LLCC took several years, I realize how my past experiences contributed to my becoming an educator who loves her work. LLCC produces students who convert their dreams into realities by becoming productive citizens of the Springfield community, and I am proud to be part of that extremely rewarding process.
Carmen Allen, Ed.D., is the 2018 Pearson Master Teacher at LLCC and is currently serving as interim dean of business and computer technology.