Jerri “JJ” Blazich, Neoga, has been named the 2014 Adult Student of the Year by Lake Land College.
Like many non-traditional students, Blazich overcame a lot of challenges and barriers which kept her from reaching her academic and career goals early in life. But according to Valerie Lynch, director of Student Life, Blazich demonstrates a strong commitment to education, is involved in her community outside of the classroom at Lake Land College and shows great leadership skills.
“JJ is a single mother of three children,” said Lynch. “She focused on being a mother for several years, working part-time jobs and considered her financial situation to be such that she could not attend college until now. Now that her children are getting older, she made the decision to go back to school to obtain the education and training she will need to obtain a career in the criminal justice field.”
Blazich holds a 3.63 cumulative GPA, serves as the president of the Criminal Justice Club and is the treasurer of the Student Activity Board. She is also involved with TRiO Student Support Services.
According to Dustin Heuerman, criminal justice instructor and club advisor, Blazich has shown great leadership skills through her involvement with the Criminal Justice Club.
“JJ organizes club events, encourages club members and participation and most recently organized a donation for supplies which were later donated to HOPE of East Central Illinois,” said Heuerman. “JJ is always willing to take on additional tasks through class and club activities so that she can receive a well-rounded education.”
Beyond school responsibilities, Blazich volunteers at a clothing ministry at her church in Neoga. She is also a member of the Neoga Parent Teacher Organization and post-prom and post-graduation committees. Also, she serves on the Neoga Days Committee and regularly fosters animals from local shelters.
The award was given as part of Adult Week at Lake Land College, which celebrates non-traditional students for their commitment and determination to return to school after some time away, or for many, for the first time in their lives.
Other students nominated for this honor include: Alan Fitzpatrick, Mattoon; Chris Kline, Stewardson; Cathy Rochkes, Ramsey; Hollie Austin, Brocton; John “Tony” Tilghman, Lerna; LaCrisha Gatton, Shelbyville; Travis Nippe, Toledo; Lucas Thomas, Charleston; Ryan Camp, Kansas; Sarah Ray, Shumway; Anna Landin, Shelbyville; Megan O’Brien, Champaign; Julia Fasking, Mattoon; Patricia Hansen, Charleston; Brenda Scott, Greenup; and Paolo Mendez, Peoria.
To learn more about Lake Land College, visit www.lakelandcollege.edu.