Parkland more than just a college

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Zach Trueblood

Staff Writer

Parkland College may not be located in the center of Champaign-Urbana physically, but it is firmly based in the heart of the community. Parkland reaches out to the residents of District 505 in many different ways in hopes to bolster the community, and those within it.

Over 75 percent of students at Parkland are local or from District 505, which consists of Champaign-Urbana as well as many surrounding towns. Admissions advisors visit each school in the district to answer questions about Parkland, and also to promote the college.

Along with regular campus visits from any interested parties, the college offers visits for every 8th grader in Champaign Unit 4 schools. The Office of Financial Aid and Veteran Services offers a Financial Aid night to local high schools. These visits are designed to answer some of those confusing questions about FAFSA and Financial Aid in general.

Parkland prides itself on communicating with the community, parents and students alike. Student Services Advisor, Mary Kay Smith, plays a pivotal role in this communication process.

Along with Student-Parent Information Night held on Oct. 30, there was also a Campus Wide Open House held on Nov. 7. This Open House included the Health Careers Open House.

“It’s a great time for folks in the community to come and check out the various programs that are offered at Parkland, see the lab spaces, and visit with staff and faculty,” Smith said. “We’ve also just completed the Student-Parent Information Night, which is a great opportunity for parents to learn more about the Parkland College experience and college in general.  We also offered that presentation in Spanish for our Latino families. Over 180 people attended the event.”

Moises Orozco, Program Assistant of the Parkland Academy Team, spearheaded the Latino portion of Student-Parent Information Night. A number of students on the student panel were mentors from the Comadre y Compadre program; another initiative intended to target Latino students on campus.

The other Program Assistant of the Parkland Academy Team who works alongside Orozco is Eduardo Coronel. Coronel gave some insight into how Parkland reaches out to the growing Latino community in District 505.

“Due to the increase in the Latino population, Parkland is making a significant effort in reaching out to those Latino families and students,” Coronel said. “One way we’re doing that is through our Comadre y Compadre program. Wherein returning Latino/Latina students mentor new students.”

Parkland also does its fair share to give back to the community. The goal of the college is not just to educate but to also enhance the surrounding community.

The community benefits the college and, in turn, Parkland benefits the community. It’s a cycle that has helped both progress over the years.

Professor of Humanities and Service-Learning Coordinator, Brian Nudelman, feels very strongly about community involvement at the collegiate level.

Nudelman referred to Parkland College’s Mission which is, “to engage the community in learning.” He also stated that one of Parkland’s purposes is “to guide and assist students in becoming active, responsible, ethical, and self-disciplined citizens in our democratic society.”

“Through the College’s support of volunteerism in general, and service-learning more specifically, we are putting that mission and purpose in action, by encouraging students, faculty, and staff to get off campus and out in the community,” Nudelman explained. “[We are] doing work that not only helps strengthen the community, but also encourages Parkland folks to see community involvement as central to being an engaged citizen in our communities.”

It’s apparent that Parkland’s reach extends far outside of its walls. Parkland is literally referred to as a Community College. A college made up of the community, for the community.

Students interested in Service Learning contact Brian Nudelman at bnudelman@parkland.edu.

For those inquiring about Parkland’s various community programs and events contact Admissions and Records at 217-351-2482, or visit their office in the Student Union, room U214.