Scholarship looks to aid future community college faculty

EvyJo Compton

Staff Writer

The Karen Keener Professors of the Future scholarship is one of the many scholarships available to students at Parkland, and its goal is to support underrepresented students who wish to become community college faculty.

If selected, PROF scholars receive financial assistance of up to $9,000 as well as mentoring support.

Applicants must meet the following requirements: they must be students, United States citizens or permanent legal residents, have completed 24 credit hours in their program, have a Parkland grade-point average of at least 3.2, and be planning to transfer to a four-year college. Students must also be a part of an underrepresented group in the field they aspire to teach.

“Students should plan to transfer to a four-year institution in fall 2017,” says Umeeta Sadarangani, an English instructor and chair of the scholarship committee. “They must not already have earned a bachelor’s degree.”

The scholarship committee, along with the departments of the applicant’s disciplines, come together to decide which student will receive the scholarship.

“Each department gets to decide which groups are underrepresented and who would bring diversity,” Sadarangani states. “Departments will be consulted when we receive applications.”

If a student receives the scholarship, they will receive benefits such as financial aid and mentoring by a Parkland faculty member in their field of study.

“We want to help students financially so they can pursue a career teaching at a community college,” Sadarangani states. “Student will receive $9,000 over four years. The amount of financial aid goes up over time, with $500 per semester during the first year and $1,500 per semester over two years of a master’s program.”

Once a student has been accepted and is in the program, there are a few requirements they will have to meet to keep the scholarship.

“Students have to send us their official transcripts after every semester,” Sadarangani says. “They will have to keep a mentoring relationship with the Parkland faculty in their decided field. They will also have to transfer to a four-year university within the calendar year. Students have to stay in the field, and complete bachelor’s and master’s degrees.”

The PROF scholarship was established in 1997 by the late Karen M. Keener, who joined the English department at Parkland College in 1970 and was chair of the humanities department when she retired in 2000. Keener was a strong proponent in diversifying the faculty at Parkland College.

The goal of the scholarship is to focus on diversity and to support underrepresented students, providing them with mentoring that will prepare them for their future.

“I really think that being mentored by faculty has a wonderful impact on the success of the students,” Sadarangani states. “I hope students who receive the scholarship will take advantage of that opportunity in an ongoing way. I encourage interested students to talk to faculty about job experiences in the area they are wishing to pursue.”

Students who are interested in the PROF scholarship can contact Sadarangani by phone at 217-373-3868, by email at, or in-person by stopping by her office at C245.

Further requirements and information about PROF can be found on the scholarship’s web page at, where students can also download the 2017 application form.

Applications will be accepted until 5 p.m. April 10.