SWIC announces commencement speakers

News-DemocratApril 30, 2014 

A pair of prominent metro-east natives will speak at Southwestern Illinois College's graduation ceremonies.

Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee will deliver the keynote address at the commencement ceremony. Ralph Korte, founder and retired chairman of The Korte Co., will serve as keynote speaker for the college's GED certification ceremony.

"We are honored to have two such accomplished individuals speaking at these ceremonies," SWIC President Georgia Costello said. "Both speakers demonstrate how far education, hard work and dedication can take you in life and they will serve as excellent role models for our students."

A native of East St. Louis, Joyner-Kersee is a graduate of UCLA, where she was a decorated All-American in both track and field and basketball. Named "The Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century" by Sports Illustrated, Joyner-Kersee is a four-time Olympian that has set several world records and earned six Olympic medals, including three gold. In 1988, she established the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation, which provides youth, adults and families with resources to improve their quality of life, with special attention directed to East St. Louis.

The son of a dairy farmer in Pierron, Korte grew up with plans to take over the family farm. After being drafted into the Army, he earned his GED while serving. When he returned from service in 1956, he started a construction company with his cousin and went on to earn his bachelor's degree from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. The Korte Company is now a $200 million design-build construction company that specializes in eco-friendly projects across the country - 42 states and counting. A generous philanthropist, Korte has donated to numerous organizations in the community, including the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation, the Girl Scouts River Bluff Council, the Boy Scouts of America, SIUE and SWIC.

The GED ceremony will be held May 14 in the SWIC Belleville campus Varsity Gym. The commencement ceremony will be held in the same place the following night. Both events start at 7 p.m.

Lindenwood University-Belleville will host The Buried Life, a group of four motivational speakers asking the question, "What do you want to do before you die?"

The event will be at 7 p.m. May 7 in the Lindenwood Auditorium. It is free and open to the public.

Lindenwood Belleville students voted to select The Buried Life to come to campus as part of the university's spring speaker series. Originated 2006, The Buried Life is made up of four 20-somethings: Ben Nemtin, Dave Lingwood, Duncan Penn, and Jonnie Penn, who hit the road to complete a list of "100 Things We Want To Do Before We Die" and help out strangers along the way accomplish something on their own lists.

In 2008, MTV featured The Buried Life in the group's own reality television series, in which they traveled the country helping others check items off their bucket lists. In 2012, The Buried Life also released the New York Times' best-selling book What Do You Want To Do Before You Die?

"We are excited to have The Buried Life on our campus to speak about a very meaningful topic that's not often discussed among college students," Jenny Baudendistel, director of student life and leadership at Lindenwood Belleville, said. "I'm very pleased that our students are interested in bringing these kinds of speakers to campus and making their voice heard."

For more information on this event, please contact Baudendistel at (618) 239-6155 or jbaudendistel@lindenwood.edu.

McKendree University has arranged a special visit with therapy dogs to help students ease the stress or preparing for final exams.

The animals will be in the reading room at the Holman Library where students can drop by and pet their anxiety away.

Newman, a black Labrador retriever, and Winnie, a malmute-golden retriever mix will visit Friday from 2-3 p.m.

On Saturday Lollypop, a bichon Frise, and Socrates, a collie will appear from 2-3 p.m.

Dolly, a "Heinz 57" mix, Batman, a pit bull terrier and Lulu, a standard poodle will appear from 7-8 p.m. Sunday.

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