Streator student named 21st Century Scholar at IVCC

Seven other students received awards

Helena Ogle, of Streator, is the Illinois Valley Community College Foundation’s 21st Century Scholar for 2021.

The 15th annual 21st Century celebration is available online at

Ogle is majoring in nursing and plans to transfer to Loyola University in Chicago to pursue a bachelor’s in nursing and eventually become a nurse practitioner specializing in women’s health.

She co-owns Blue Eyed Rascal Baking Co. in Streator. While at Streator High School, she was involved in the FFA’s “Edible Acre” and the city’s mural project. She is IVCC’s Student Government Association Treasurer.

As the 21st Century Scholar, Ogle received $3,000. Three finalists received $1,500 and four merit award winners $750.

Finalists are Dylan Zupec, of Granville; Hope Beelman, of Peru; and Alex Newman, of Oglesby.

Zupec will transfer next fall to Northern Illinois University to major in electrical engineering. Self-taught in electronics and computer programming, he builds computers from scratch, a hobby he will turn into a career as an embedded system engineer. He is an IVCC peer tutor for Calculus and Physics I and II.

Beelman, a journalism major, is editor of the student newspaper IV Leader and plans to one day be a travel journalist. She helps craft IVCC’s social media on the admissions team’s Hype Crew and is a student worker in financial aid.

Newman is an accounting major and is also transferring to NIU. At L-P, along with seven semester honors, he played tennis and basketball. He was on the IVCC tennis team that advanced to the national tournament last spring.

Merit winners were:

  • Sierra Medina, of La Salle, an agronomy major also seeking a cannabis production certificate. She will transfer to Southern Illinois University Carbondale to study crop, soil and environmental management. She is an IVAR volunteer.
  • Hunter Karun, of Peru, is majoring in construction welding and hopes to become a union welder. Karun interned at HCC in Mendota last summer.
  • Emma Mertes, of Utica, graduated in the top 12 of an L-P class of more than 240. A sports management major, she will pursue a career with a professional sports team. She was co-captain of L-P’s swim team, student council vice president and winner of the Sons of the American Revolution Award.
  • Emily Walker, of Ottawa, will major in hospitality leadership at Bradley University. She was elected to student government, volunteers for the Food Pantry and taught summer school on a mission to Birmingham, Ala.

Made up of 37 members contributing $500 annually, the 21st Century Scholars Society rewards IVCC’s most promising returning students. To qualify, students need a minimum 3.5 GPA as well as extensive college involvement and community service.

Since its founding in 2007, the Society has awarded over $207,500 to 185 students.

For information, contact Fran Brolley, executive director of community relations and development, at 815-224-0466 or