Do You Write Well? Submit Your Essay and Win $500!

Want to improve your writing skills, while having a chance at winning $500? Consider entering the Diana McDonald Award for Outstanding Achievement in Creative Nonfiction!

This semester, we have redesigned the Writer’s Challenge: We seek essays from any student enrolled in a Humanities Department course (English, Critical Comprehension Skills, English as a Second Language, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Literature, Philosophy, Humanities, Religion, Spanish, German, French, Japanese). Ideally, we are looking for an essay that connects your personal experiences, insights, and observations to larger ongoing conversations in our world—about politics, philosophy, science, media, justice, family, race, happiness, the environment, or whatever else you are interested in.

You may revise and submit an essay that you have written for a course or you may write an essay specifically for this contest.

To give some background: Several years ago, a retired Parkland English faculty member, Diana McDonald, began The Writer’s Challenge. Diana feels passionately about good writing and has fond memories of working with students who were eager to work hard to polish their writing. So she began this award as a way to give students some extra incentive to polish their essays. Her hope has been that her award will generate, among students, enthusiasm for writing well.

Do you have an essay of which you’re particularly proud? Or do you have something you are particularly interested in writing about? Please see these two attachments—the Writer’s Challenge information and our Writer’s  Challenge application form—to get started.

By the way, we will post the winning essay on Parkland’s open access repository, SPARK. If you would like to read the essay that Diana McDonald awarded last fall semester, you can go to: and click on the little PDF icon on the left.

[Seth Mendelowitz is a full-time faculty member in Parkland’s Humanities department.]

Parkland Women’s Soccer Prepares for 2016 Season

Parkland College Women’s Soccer is pleased to announce the incoming freshman class for the 2016 season.  Seven new recruits will join the 13 returning sophomores to start preseason on August 1st to defend the Cobras’ M-WAC title.  All seven hail from the state of Illinois and are expected to make serious contributions to an already successful team.

I am excited about this incoming group. It’s a fairly small class but filled with proven players who are going to step right into key roles on this team.  Having such a large, and successful sophomore class returning next season will help the incoming group get settled quickly and hit the ground running in August.

TozerBrooke Tozer joins the Cobras from nearby Charleston.  Primarily a defender, Tozer is really a versatile player, capable of slotting into a number of roles on the team.  “I wanted to be challenged and I know that Parkland is a great program and will help me to continue to get better,” she stated.

MerchantBrianna Merchant comes to Parkland from Troy, in southern Illinois.  An avid fan of the US Women’s National Team, Merchant is an experienced and imposing defender.  Prior to signing with the Cobras, she suffered a serious injury setback but has recovered unbelievably quickly and will be fit for the start of preseason training.  On her decision to join the Cobras, Merchant said, “I chose Parkland because I loved the atmosphere of the college, I’ve been looking forward to starting ever since I visited.”  She will be a part of the Parkland Pathways program as well.

HudspethDestiny Hudspeth joins Parkland from Springfield.  An attack-minded player, Destiny will be a strong addition to the Cobras’ offense, which has terrorized opposing teams for the past few seasons.  Describing Parkland as “a good school, with good soccer,” she looks forward to joining the team August 1.

YounkerClaire Younker, a native of Morton, joins the Cobras a versatile winger.  A strong and athletic player, Younker will be an asset to the team both defending and going forward.  On her decision to sign with Parkland, Younker said, “I chose Parkland because I like that it is a winning program and that I get the chance to be part of that tradition. I felt that Parkland was the place for me as soon as I visited the campus.”

BarriaAlso joining the Cobras from Springfield is Marissa Barria.  A true, box-to-box center midfielder, Barria is expected to make a major impact in an already strong center of the park for the Cobras.  She is a longtime fan of Catalan Giants and last year’s Champions League winner, FC Barcelona.

MossmanSydney Mossman joins the Cobras from Alton.  A very technical player, Mossman will make big contributions on the offensive side for the Cobras, and will play both as a center forward and an attacking winger.  Sydney had club success with St. Louis Scott Gallagher and is going to push for a key role behind the Cobras’ already established attackers.

MartinezAnd the Cobras’ last addition to the recruiting class, from Centennial High School in Champaign is Hannah Martinez.  Hannah just moved to Champaign last year, but was a key player in a very successful campaign for Centennial this past year.  A very athletic player, Hannah will play primarily in the holding midfield role, but will be expected to fit into a number of positions on the park.

Parkland College Women’s Soccer open their defense of the M-WAC title on August 28 at home vs. Maple Woods Community College of Kansas City, MO.

[Chris Jackson is the recently appointed head coach of the Cobras Women’s Soccer Team.]

Alumni Art Exhibition This Fall: Call for Entries!

alumni exhibit

Giertz Gallery at Parkland College is celebrating Parkland’s 50th anniversary by hosting its first-ever alumni juried exhibition, featuring the artwork of our most talented alumni! Are you one of them?

Giertz Gallery invites Art and Design alumni to show your creativity and talent by submitting artwork to the Parkland College 50th: Art and Design Alumni Exhibition.

All works to be considered for inclusion in the exhibit must be submitted by August 26. Visit for complete details and the online entry form.

Entry is open to all artists who have taken at least one class within the Art and Design program at Parkland. Submitted works may be in the following disciplines: painting, sculpture, ceramics, metals, drawing, printmaking, photography, textiles, video, and mixed media. Work completed under an instructor’s supervision is not eligible. Work must have been made in the last three years.

We are delighted that Barry Blinderman, director of University Galleries at Illinois State University, will serve as juror of the exhibition.

Parkland College 50th: Art and Design Alumni Exhibition will run September 26–November 5, 2016.

Parkland Students Dig Deeper into Archaeology

On the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River, in Kennekuk County Park northwest of Danville, sits the Collins Archaeological Complex, home to a Native American site more than 1,000 years old. As part of an intense six-week field school, Parkland College students are examining the relationship of this important archaeological site to the Mississippian civilization who built the city of Cahokia near East St. Louis, Illinois.

The summer field school is led by archaeologist Amanda Butler, instructor of anthropology at Parkland. Below, University of Illinois anthropology majors Daniele Veign (pictured above) of Mahomet and Kristen Burtzos of Cissna Park share about their experiences at Collins. Both students are currently earning credit through Parkland for this class.


Dani: Learning to Think Like an Archaeologist

The media sometimes portrays archaeology as an exotic activity where people find outrageous artifacts of a distant culture in a far-off land. Archaeologists can certainly have these experiences, but there is so much more involved in the process of archaeology. Most importantly, archaeology is everywhere, not just in distant places. Living the life of an archaeologist is far different than studying the field of archaeology. The Parkland College field school at the Collins Site is giving me the hands-on experience that one cannot get from a textbook.

The Collins site is a ceremonial mound center with connections to Cahokia, the largest pre-Columbian Native American city in the U.S. It was inhabited around 1080-1180 CE. The site, consisting of multiple earthen mounds, was previously excavated in the early 1970s by a team of archaeologists from the University of Illinois who attempted to salvage as much information as possible ahead of the (then) planned dam of Middle Fork River. Currently, we are trying to gain a broader understanding about the group of people who once inhabited Collins, while also testing a hypothesis that Cahokian missionaries attempted to convert local (east central Illinois) inhabitants to their Mississippian religion.

At Collins, I am learning the basics of archaeological excavation: digging techniques, how to identify features and artifacts, and how to map, but I am also beginning to see archaeology as so much more. This field school is teaching me how I can take several different puzzle pieces and think about how they all fit together to form a fuller picture of the past. I am learning to comprehend and view another culture far different from my own. I am learning how to look at the soil and to use color and texture differences to identify archaeological features. The field school at Collins is teaching me how to truly think and act like an archaeologist.

Kat Ceramic

Kristen: Finding Her Passion

The Collins site field school has given students an amazing opportunity to unearth the deep history within our own community. For me, an archaeology student, this class offers a unique hands-on experience in my chosen field of study. I am learning valuable skills and techniques used in the excavation process of an archaeologist, including surveying, excavation, laboratory analysis, mapping, and conservation.

Our instructor, Amanda Butler, challenges us to think deeply about what we are excavating and how it relates to our class readings. We are encouraged to keep daily journals so we can record our thoughts, ideas, and accomplishments throughout each day. We will use our journaled observations and class readings to discuss how our discoveries at the Collins site may correlate to the civilization that once existed at Cahokia.

We have met with visiting archaeologists and listened as they shared their own expertise and ideas about the Collins site and the field of archaeology. This field school has solidified my passion for archaeology. It has been is a great first step towards my career, and it gives me an idea of what I will be doing as I continue on my future path.

Heading Toward a Fiscally Solid Fall Semester

The recent announcement of a stopgap budget from Springfield provides welcome news for Illinois higher education. It also presents an opportunity to remind our community that Parkland College continues to maintain a fiscally strong position.

Parkland will receive $1.8 million for the first half of fiscal year 2017, July 1 through December 2016. The funds may be used to cover MAP financial aid grants that students received for the spring 2016 semester.

Our college continues to offer the programs that students and community employers need, and it is our hope that the funding news will reassure potential students and their parents that Parkland will be here to help them meet their academic goals, graduate, and achieve career success.

The uncertainty of the state budget in the last year has almost certainly contributed to an enrollment decline, not only here at Parkland, but at many Illinois public colleges and universities. As we approach fall 2016 in an enrollment deficit, now is the time for all Parkland employees to spread the positive news:

  • Encourage any potential students to register TODAY for best class selection.
  • Reassure them that Parkland College is fiscally solid and will be here for them.
  • Tell them there are scholarships and other financial aid options to help them pay tuition.

Finally, remind them that fall semester classes start August 22.

Parkland College, in its 50th year, remains strong and looks forward to a promising new academic year. Thanks to all of you for your ongoing hard work. Your dedication to Parkland and our students during these challenging times is most appreciated.

[Tom Ramage is president of Parkland College.]