Category Archives: Campus Life

12 Tips for Winter Driving

As we head into the winter months, conditions on the road can become more dangerous. We need to make a few adjustments to our driving habits to make sure we’re safely reaching our destinations.

As a reminder of those adjustments, we’ve republished our January 2017 post on winter driving, below, which includes tips from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation website. Please give it a read.

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How can you keep safe on the road this winter? Here are the top 12 tips:

12. Clear snow and ice from all windows and lights—even the hood and roof—before driving.

11. Leave plenty of room for stopping.

10. Pay attention; don’t try to outdrive the conditions. Remember the posted speed limits are for dry pavement.

9. Use brakes carefully. Brake early. Brake correctly. It takes more time and distance to stop in adverse conditions.

8. Bridge decks freeze first. Due to the difference in the exposure to air, the surface condition can be worse on a bridge than on the approaching road.

7. Exit ramps are an even greater challenge during the winter, since they may have received less anti-icing material than the main line. Be aware of this when exiting the highway.

6. Don’t use the “cruise control” option when driving in wintry conditions. Even roads that appear clear can have sudden slippery spots and the slightest touch of your brakes to deactivate the cruise control can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.

5. Don’t get overconfident in your 4×4 vehicle’s traction. Driving a four-wheel-drive vehicle may help you get going quicker, but it won’t help you stop any quicker. Many 4x4s are heavier than passenger vehicles and actually may take longer to stopWinter Driving

4. Look further ahead in traffic than you normally do. Actions by cars and trucks will alert you quicker to problems and give you a split-second of extra time to react safely.

3. Remember that trucks are heavier than cars. Trucks take longer to safely respond and come to a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them.

2. Leave room for maintenance vehicles and plows! Stay back at least 200 feet and don’t pass on the right.

1. Most importantly, please, remember to SLOW DOWN! Also, seat belts should be worn at all times; it’s the law.

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]

I’m a Cubs fan, and I’m glad they lost

Rattle the Stars Executive Director Kim Bryan has graciously shared with us her journey of suicide loss, below. She is one of many who have had to endure similar painful experiences. Join Kim and others Saturday, Nov. 18, as Parkland College recognizes International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day with a program and discussion, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Room U140 of the Student Union.

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When the Cubs disappointingly dropped game five to the Dodgers, I breathed a small sigh of relief.  We’re a family of Cubs fans: my husband was sucked in at age 7 in 1984, I acquired fandom through 20 years of marriage to a die-hard, and my kids were all born into it.  We even named our youngest daughter after Ryne Sandberg (she has yet to decide whether she loves or hates it).  We made a regular pilgrimage to the Eden that is Wrigley Field, and even braved the cold to wish her a happy 100th birthday.  As much as I would have loved to see my beloved Cubbies repeat this year, I was glad to be spared the pain that comes with their success.

In April 2016, just as the magical season was getting underway, my 19-year-old son died of suicide.  Sam had battled depression for several years, and after the dreadful disease drained every ounce of his happiness, it moved on to those who loved him.  When Sam died, my world went dark.  For the entire regular season, the Cubs were the farthest thing from my mind.  Just getting up and functioning each day was exhausting, and every spare moment I had was spent questioning the last minutes, hours, days, years of Sam’s life trying to figure what I could have done differently, better, to save him.

By the time October rolled around, I was just beginning to pay attention to the rest of the world again, and the Cubbies were certainly demanding attention.  But with every win, I was secretly hoping they would lose.  The little voice in my head was begging them not to win, not now, not this year.  When they won Game 6 of the NLCS, I cried.  I cried, not out of happiness, but out of grief and loss.  It was really happening.  The Cubs were going to the Series, and he was missing it.  How could he miss this?  It was all he had wanted since Neifi Perez tossed his batting gloves over the dugout to him at his first Cubs game.  Despite my best efforts, they just insisted on winning.  When Rizzo made the final out, and the world erupted in celebration, I sat stone-face on my couch, not able to move.  I finally managed a hug to my husband, but no words would even come.  This was just adding insult to injury.  Six months after suicide stole my son from the world, his dream came true.

A few days later, my family made another pilgrimage to the Eden that is Wrigley Field.  I was determined that Sam was not going to miss this.  We put on all our Cubs gear and took the worn-out Cubs hat that Sam wore every day for years, and we joined countless others in writing our tributes in chalk on the brick.  Even though I know it was eventually washed away, it was comforting to know that his name was on that wall.  A piece of him was there at Wrigley celebrating his beloved Cubbies winning the World Series.  We hugged and cried and reminisced about the great times we had had there.  We stayed as long as we could, and then begrudgingly left for home, feeling the gaping hole in our lives that was left when Sam died.

The most difficult part of healing from the death of my son has been reconciling the simultaneous happiness and sadness that comes with times of joy.  When I first started to feel happiness again, I felt guilty for it.  I actually dreaded things that I would feel good about, things that would bring me joy, because I knew that they would also bring guilt and regret, and things that I knew Sam would enjoy were the absolute worst.  Before his death, Sam had written that he knew people would be sad when he died, but that they would get over it because they were better off without him.  Every time I felt happy, those words rang in my head.  Happiness meant I was getting over it, and how could I ever possibly get over losing my son?  If I was happy, did that mean I was better off without him?  How was I going to get through the rest of my life if I couldn’t find a way to experience happiness without being consumed by this turmoil?

Thankfully, I began to connect with other survivors of suicide loss.  Through AFSP’s Out of the Darkness Walk and Survivors of Suicide Loss Day I began to meet and talk with others who understood what I was going through.  I found a community of people that have both supported my personal healing and my new journey to prevent youth suicide with our organization, Rattle the Stars.

It’s now been over a year and half since suicide stole my son from me.  I’m still not great, but with the support of other survivors, I’m getting back to okay.  For me, okay is something to celebrate.

[Dennis Cockrum is a counselor with Parkland College’s Counseling Services department.]

Out of Gas? Locked Out? Call Vehicle Services

The Parkland College Department of Public Safety strives to be accessible and responsive to the community we’re a part of. Towards that goal, we offer a range of services that go beyond traditional policing in order to better connect and engage with students, faculty, staff, and visitors to the college.

This week’s post will be an overview of the various vehicle services we offer, which are completely free to anyone on campus regardless of affiliation to the college. Just call 217/351-2369, and one of our officers will come out to help.

Locked out of your car? 

In the rush to get to class, did you leave your keys locked in the car? Our officers are trained and equipped with vehicle unlock tools to access your door handles or unlock buttons.

Dead battery?

We carry battery packs in all of our squad cars to jump start your vehicle if your battery is dead. The officer will hook it up to your car battery and help start your car. If it turns out that you have a different mechanical issue, we can call a tow truck for you to get you to a mechanic.

Run out of gas?

If you cruised onto campus running on fumes and need a little gas to get back on the road, we can give you a ride to a nearby gas station where you can put a couple of gallons in a gas can we carry in the squad car. We’ll bring you back and you can refill your tank, at least enough to get on the road and make it back to the gas station for a fill-up.

Flat tire?

We have an air compressor to fill up your tire if it’s a little flat. Unfortunately, we can’t change your tire, but we can provide advice and stand by with you if you need to switch over to your spare.

What to Expect

If you’re having any of the above issues with your car, call 217/351-2369. The dispatcher will get some information to find out where you are ,and an officer will be dispatched to you as soon as possible. They’ll verify your driver’s license and vehicle registration, have you sign a liability waiver, and then get to work to get you back on the road. It’s totally free, and you don’t have to be a Parkland student or employee to receive this service.

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]

Cold and Flu Season

Cold and flu season officially starts in October and lasts until April, but it is possible to catch the common cold or influenza any time of the year.

Not sure what you might have? Check your symptoms on the handy chart below from the U.S. National Institute of Health! In either case, you shouldn’t come to school if you’re experiencing a cold or the flu. Focus on recovery and try to keep from infecting anyone else. If you have to leave the house, consider wearing a face mask and be sure to wash your hands often.

Consult with your doctor if you have a health concern of any kind.

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]

Papers Due? Try the Writing Lab for Help!

Do you have a paper to revise? Are you trying to figure out MLA and APA citations? Would you like to brainstorm ideas for a scholarship application essay?

The Writing Lab can help! Stop by the Center for Academic Success (CAS, Room D120), where the lab is located, to consult one-on-one with writing faculty:

  • Get help with everything from starting on your academic paper to citing sources correctly.
  • Faculty will not proofread for you, but we can help you learn how to proofread.
  • Sessions last 15 minutes on average. Bring your assignment instructions with you so that Writing Lab faculty can help you effectively.
  • You can also find many helpful writing handouts and tutorials online.

Take advantage of this FREE resource for Parkland College students. We’re here for your success.

Writing Lab Hours
Monday–Thursday, 9 a.m.–4:50 p.m.
Friday, 9 a.m.–1:50 p.m.

[Dr. Umeeta Sadarangani teaches English 101, Humanities 109, and a variety of literature courses, and she serves as the CAS writing specialist and the Writing Lab director.]