The Lake Land College Alumni Association recently inducted the Distinguished Alumni Society (DAS) Class of 2014. The inductees were Tony Aghaei (class of 1978) of Mattoon; Brett Henschen (class of 1984) of Pana; Patty Montgomery (class of 1996) of Mattoon; and Mike Sullivan (class of 1970) of Mattoon. The Distinguished Alumni Society recognizes alumni who have utilized the Lake Land experience to make an imprint on his or her profession or community.
“When I came to Lake Land College as a foreign student in 1978 the faculty and staff was most helpful,” said Aghaei. “I am grateful for the wonderful opportunity that I was given and in my view, Lake Land College is one of the most solid higher educational institutions in the country and I will continue to be an ambassador for it since it has given me so much.”
Aghaei credits former instructors like Carroll Gibbons, Wally Taylor, Chuck Weick and Wayne Bradtke for influencing him while at Lake Land. He said that his instructors were particularly supportive and instrumental in helping him adjust to being a student in the United States. Aghaei currently works as the sales manager at KC Summers in Mattoon. He graduated with an associate degree in science, majoring in biological science.
“Lake Land College provided a business management program that has given me the skills to establish Automotive Equipment Sales & Services, with my father in 1991,” said Henschen. “With business and accounting classes taken at Lake Land, we were able to grow our business to employ 12 to 14 local people in full time capacity, never having to cut any of our employees under 40 hours a week. Lake Land’s ongoing support to educate people of all ages, skill levels and careers in this region is a great asset to our communities.”
Henschen credits former instructor Hal Kottwitz for being a very caring instructor who was able to relate to students well and pass his knowledge to students in a manner that was understood by all. Henschen is the owner and vice president of Automotive Equipment Sales & Service in Pana. He earned an associate degree in applied science, majoring in business management.
“When I first came to Lake Land, I was aggressively pursuing admission into a physician assistant program,” said Montgomery. “I had earned a well-rounded education at EIU, but was lacking some experience and class work in a few disciplines. So I researched what Lake Land College had to offer and was pleasantly surprised at the variety of classes offered. I was able to pick a few classes, which were required pre-requisites to a few of the programs I had applied to. I feel taking those classes rounded out my educational needs and requirements for admission to my physician assistant program.”
Montgomery credits Larry Gutzler, who she said was instrumental to her admission into the physician assistant program as he designed an independent study curriculum for her in order for her to gain the anatomy and physiology experience she needed to move onto a physician assistant program. Montgomery is a physician’s assistant at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center in Mattoon and she was enrolled at Lake Land during the summer and fall terms in 1996.
“After returning home from the service, my plans were to attend college; I just didn’t know where,” explained Sullivan. “But while in Vietnam, my dad mentioned in a letter about a new college starting in Mattoon and encouraged me to attend. Being a new college with no official approved accreditation papers at that time, the military was not in a hurry to allow me to leave early to attend Lake Land College. After a couple of calls from then college President Virgil Judge, asking who in Washington he should call, I received my discharge papers and headed home to attend the new college in Mattoon.”
Sullivan credits former instructor Bill Rich in addition to former board trustees Leland Glazebrook and Jim Shaffer for influencing him and supporting him during his time at Lake Land. Sullivan is the Director of Outreach for Illinois Eastern Community Colleges and currently serves as the chairman of the Board of Trustees for Lake Land. He graduated with an associate degree in applied science, majoring in agriculture.
“Education has helped me help others in many ways throughout my life for education is like the roots of a plant—they are usually unseen but they are the strength of the plant. By being the tool to cultivate and add air to the roots, we help others grow,” said Sullivan.
The guest speaker for the induction ceremony was Senator Dale Righter
This Class of 2014 will join73 others who have been inducted into the Lake Land College Distinguished Alumni Society since its introduction in2007.