Sauk Valley

SVCC conducts May commencement, nurse pinning ceremonies

Associate degree in nursing candidate Alejandro Escalante crosses the podium on Friday during the pinning ceremony for the division of health professions at Sauk Valley Community College.

DIXON – Sauk Valley Community College conferred associate degrees in six academic disciplines in a commencement ceremony Friday evening at the main gym.

It also conducted pinning ceremonies for its nursing candidates in an earlier ceremony on Friday.

Closed circuit viewing on a large screen also was available in an adjoining room.

The evening ceremony was paused at one moment as an emergency siren blared. But the presenter said it was a glitch that was anticipated and so the ceremony continued to some nervous laughter from the audience.

SVCC David Hellmich gave opening remarks and at the conclusion bid the graduates success.

In the course of the commencement exercise Lori Cortez, dean of institutional advancement gave special awards to three on behalf of the SVCC Alumni Association. Those recognized:

1995 graduate Matt Prescott, a restaurant owner whose Candlelight Gives Back program raises money for nonprofits, as Distinguished Alumni.

2015 graduate Matthew Lenox, a founding member of Redbirds Resolving Conflict that brings people together by understanding common values, for Alumni Achievement.

Student Meg Frank, a social media ambassador and chief executive officer of her own online clothing business, as Rising Star.

Student speakers were Nicole Varga, Samantha Weathers and Michele Cumberland. All three received their nursing pins in the earlier ceremony. Varga, a radiologic technology candidate, and Cumberland, a practical nursing candidate, received special recognition as selected by their peers.

Dawn Britt, an associate degree nursing candidate, also received a special recognition award in the pinning ceremony.

Graduates achieving high honors by discipline were:

Arts. Emalie Chavira, Claudia Garcia, Logan Griswold, Grecen Harmon, Charlotte McCoy, Lawrence Miller, Elizabeth Reinhardt, Megan Schave, Sydney Schott, Natalie Sonderoth, Nicholas Tarr, Utah Valazqez and Valerie Villaneda.

Science. Cori Chavez, Curt Cheffer, Cameron Crone, Diana Dillon, Giana Floming and Jonathan Rhodes.

Engineering Science. Christopher Link.

Applied Science. Christopher Doril, Dawn Britt, Sydney Krause, Camila Lahey, Karen Nestor, and Eric Villa.

Liberal Studies. Hope Cantu, Amber DeNotto, Angelica Tintori, and Elise Wilson.

About the Alumni Association Award winners

Prescott accepted the Distinguished Alumni award. Prescott graduated in 1995 with an associate’s degree in business. He became involved in his family’s restaurant business in 2000 and has opened Candlelight restaurants in Rock Falls and Clinton. He also developed the Candlelight Gives Back program to reward loyal customers for their patronage while providing funds to various nonprofits and schools, having given back $250,000. He has also worked with the Sterling-Rock Falls YMCA, the Sauk Valley Area Chamber, local schools and helped fund the purchase of beds for kindergarten through fifth grade kids in the Sauk Valley area in 2017.

Lenox was given the Alumni Achievement Award. Lenox graduated in 2015 with an associate’s degree in science and spent two years at Illinois State University where he received a Bachelor of Science degree. At ISU, Lenox was a founding member of Redbirds Resolving Conflict, a student organization focused on bringing people together by understanding common values. He currently is marketing and business services director for the Dixon Chamber of Commerce and Main Street and has been awarded with two national advertising awards for the Discover Dixon commercial.

Frank received the Rising Star award. Frank is president of the Rotaract Club, a social media ambassador, and is in the business club. She is enrolled in the Sauk Academy program. Frank will graduate Rock Falls High School while simultaneously completing her first year of college this spring. She is the CEO of Current Clothing Co., an online clothing business, and employed at Sterling Walmart.


Troy Taylor

Troy E. Taylor

Was named editor for Saukvalley.com and the Gazette and Telegraph in 2021. An Illinois native, he has been a reporter or editor in daily newspapers since 1989.