Illinois State University
Well, this is my last Admissions Essay article as President with my term coming to an end today. I told Amy numerous times that once the gavel passed at Conference that it was all hers. She used her soon to be presidential power to require I write one last article. All joking aside, the last year was a privilege to work with the leadership and members of IACAC. Thank you everyone for allowing me to serve the organization in this capacity. I appreciate the work and support throughout the year as well as a chance to connect with and learn from all of you.
One of the best parts of the year was the planning of the 2019 Annual Conference in Normal. Amy and her committee created a fantastic conference that was very successful due to their work and the overwhelming participation from the IACAC membership. While there are many aspects of #NormalinNineteen that I will not soon forget, the chance to recognize our award winners was very special to me. For my last article, I wanted to highlight our IACAC Award Winners.
Inclusion, Access and Success Service Award Recipient
This award was inaugurated in 2015, to recognize members who have been instrumental in making postsecondary educational opportunities available to historically underrepresented students.
Ziggy Blackwell, Illinois College
Ziggy embraces mentorship and leadership roles in the organization and continues to be an inspiration for all. Through leadership efforts on the Executive Board, he has demonstrated ways we can create a better pipeline and educational opportunities for historically underrepresented communities in their postsecondary planning. Ziggy has given voice to those who have not been given the chance and has paved the way for many in this field, empowering them to continue to work hard even at times when you feel rejected or not heard. Ziggy’s capstone project for graduate school was Racial Identity Development in Black College Students and has been fighting for equity their entire professional career. Ziggy is not shy about challenging our profession to talk candidly about racism and injustice. He is always a strong voice for students and professionals of color and is most deserving of the IAS award.
James A. Alexander Newcomer Award Recipients
The Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling’s Newcomer Recognition Award was inaugurated in 1987, to recognize significant contributions of those members with fewer than five years’ involvement with IACAC. In 2004, the IACAC Executive Board renamed the award in honor of James A. Alexander.
Scott Hillman, Central Michigan University
Scott has recognized and embraced all that IACAC offers to new professionals. He has been a member of the Inclusion, Access and Success committee, attendee of Sharing the Dream, and involved in Mentorship. He was a member of the First Timers Committee in 2018 and was chair of this year’s First Timers conference committee. Quoting from his nominations: “I witness his passion and enthusiasm every day for the Admissions profession and the students he works with in the college search process. He is one of the brightest and best new faces in IACAC and he would be a worthy recipient of the James A. Alexander Newcomer Award.”
Sanober Kanjee, Victoria Soto High School
Sanober has been very involved with multiple IACAC Committees in her first two years in the profession. She worked as a committee member for the High School Counselor Professional Development Committee (HSCPD) and is currently serving as a co-chair. While co-chairing HSCPD, she remained involved with the Annual Conference working with the First Timers Luncheon and as an active contributor on the Mentorship committee. From her nomination: “She has really gotten involved in the organization and most importantly has made an impact!”
Betsy Stevens, University of Pittsburgh
Betsy has always been a “yes” person in the best way possible! From the Project Reach Committee where she gave valuable insight and thoughtful recommendations to now co-chairing the Committee. Her nominators stated: “She seeks advice, is open & honest, as well as fair. She exhausts all avenues and never gives up.” She said yes to taking on a leadership role in co-chairing the ICF committee, and from what I’ve been told from her fellow co-chairs she is “rocking it”. She steps in and does what needs to be done and I look forward to seeing where she goes within IACAC from here!
Molly K. Arnold President’s Service Recognition Award Recipients
The Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling’s President’s Service Recognition Award was inaugurated in 1999, to recognize members with more than five years’ service who have provided strong and consistent leadership to IACAC. More than one award may be given each year. In 2010, the IACAC Executive Board renamed the award in honor of Molly K. Arnold.
Stacey Schlaud, West Leyden High School
Stacey has done an excellent job jumping in and guiding the development of one of our ad-hoc committees. She stepped up and shared her desire to see more progress on delivering professional development to our school counselors. She had a vision on how this committee could be modified to include more opportunities and provide more access to engage members throughout the state, independent of their ability to travel. Through her leadership and dedication IACAC hosted Counselor CAMPS opportunities have been provided. One nominator wrote, “As a committee member and participant in the first two Counselor CAMPS, I have found them to be a very practical source of professional development. Stacey has done a great job!” Stacey proposed that IACAC add HSCPD as standing committee and the Board unanimously approved because of her dedication and hard work leading this committee.
Natalie Rubino, Glenbard West High School
Natalie’s leadership has been influential in her service on the board. Under her guidance, the Summer Tours Program has improved over the years, reinstating the Micro Tours and adding the Bike program, mentoring a multitude of committee chairs who have maintained the standard set since transitioning to a more prominent role in the association. Natalie is a bright light within IACAC, on a constant quest to improve and enrich the lives of students and to advance our profession as a whole. This is from one of the nominations: “As the chair of the Bus O’ Fun and Plane O’ Fun for many years Natalie’s attention to detail, impeccable communication and flexibility on the fly were all greatly appreciated and necessary to make the trips successful and seamless. Always striving to learn more and to collaborate with peers on a variety of projects. She has been integral to the success of the Summer Tours in the ‘post-Kaz era’ and has carried that on to her involvement on the Executive Board. Her input is always well thought out and has the best interest of students and the organization at the forefront.”
Mayra Lagunas, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Dave Marcial, Golden Apple Scholar
Ziggy Blackwell, Illinois College
Individually, these leaders have had a positive influence on students and professional staff members inside and out of IACAC. They tirelessly provide support and professional development for counselors. Words like mentor, advocate, work ethic, social change, educate, progress, voice all come to mind when I think of them. All three in their own right have made an impact on IACAC. However, collectively together, they are a force of change.
Ziggy Blackwell, Mayra Lagunas, and Dave Marcial recognized a lack of representation of Black and Latino professionals in enrollment management/leadership positions in Illinois. Through countless hours of research, brain storming, and planning they created the L.E.A.D. Program. A one-year professional development program committed to providing personal and professional growth for counselors of color interested in building a career within higher education.
One nominator stated, “As a close colleague I witness first hand the work and thought process that went into developing the L.E.A.D. Program. As an Executive Board member, I was present as they advocated for admissions professionals of color and presented their program to the board for approval. The time, effort, research, and passion that went into the L.E.A.D. Program was moving and visible during their presentation.”
“As a L.E.A.D. program participant, the experiences thus far in the program have proven to be invaluable. Ziggy, Mayra, and Dave created a program that gives a population of IACAC members, that often feel forgotten and overlooked, a safe space to network, build a sense of community, talk about issues we not only face in the work place but as a result of the climate in this country. For those silenced and made to feel like we are not good enough, this group is empowering and helping us find our voice again.”
Patricia A. Kasowski Recognition Award Recipient
The Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling’s Recognition Award was inaugurated in 1974, to recognize long and meritorious service to our profession, the rendering of service to our association, the demonstration of leadership and, finally, service with distinction. In 1997, the IACAC Executive Board renamed the award in memory of Patricia A. Kasowski.
Aliza Gilbert, Highland Park High School
While I did not have the pleasure of presenting Aliza with this award, there is not a person more deserving. Leader, mentor, advocate, persistence, passionate, influential, ultra-caring and professional are all words used to describe her. It was fitting to me that Aliza receive this prestigious award and recognition for her contributions to the profession at a conference with a theme of IMPACT. Aliza has made an Impact on so many students and colleagues to count. Roberto did a great job of telling Aliza’s story through the experiences and words of those closest to her. Weaving in humor at times while still honoring and celebrating an incredible member of the IACAC family. I cannot do the presentation of this award justice within this summary, but I encourage you to check out the link below to see and hear it in its entirety. Congratulations, Aliza! What you mean to our Association was evident in the reaction of our members to your name being called for the Kasowski Award. Thank you, Aliza, for all that you have done!
In case you missed it at Conference or would like to relive it, you can enjoy our Facebook Live video of the entire awards presentation.
Thank you, IACAC, for a great year! Have a wonderful summer!