Successful graduatesWhen Michael Deno, the supervisor of prosecutions for the 5th District Court in Bridgeview, visited Michael Shannon’s COM103 course, Shannon knew it was a prime opportunity for his students to learn about an interesting career from someone who sat in their classroom. While Deno expected only to observe during his visit to Moraine Valley, the Q&A with students could not have been planned better.

“It was great,” said Shannon, associate professor of Communications. “My students asked inquisitive and deep questions. His visit was timely and relevant. He spoke for 40 minutes, and everyone, including Mike, walked away with a good feeling.”

Deno joined six other successful graduates on campus to be inducted into the Foundation’s Alumni Hall of Fame on Nov. 12. In an effort to increase students’ access to alumni, the group was asked to spend the day visiting with students.

Jerry Thor, head tennis coach at Eastern Florida State College, sat in on a General Sociology class taught by assistant professor Ricky Cobb. Thor participated in class discussion and was “kind and complimentary.”

“It was good for students to see an MVCC alum who is making good in the world. I believe that kind of example of success can only help students. Jerry is a young guy who was relatable to the class as a student here within the past 10 years. I very much enjoyed his presence in the class,” Cobb said.

Kelly O’Brien, an attorney and president/CEO of the Alliance for Regional Development and executive director of the Chicago Central Area Committee, met with assistant professor Merri Fefles’ American National Government class and the Women Empowered student club.

“Kelly was awesome,” Fefles said. “She served in the Commerce Department under former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama and was an intern in the former President George H.W. Bush White House. She spoke about becoming an intern and the hyper-partisanship in politics, the way things have shifted negatively, and she credited Moraine Valley with encouraging her to get involved in a political campaign.

She also discussed being a female in politics and encouraged students to get involved. The students benefited because it was actual hands-on experience and not just abstract stories. I loved that she set herself up as a mentor and wants to help others the way she was helped. Her time here seemed to have a tremendous impact on her.”

Vicki Quade, owner of Nuns4Fun Entertainment, attended professor Dr. Craig Rosen’s Acting I course. William Peterson, a technical expert for operational assessments and management consulting for Fire, EMS and Emergency Management in Keller, Texas, spent the afternoon in adjunct faculty member Art Rauch’s EMT course. Margot Riphagen, with the Service Employees International Union, joined Nick Shizas, associate professor of Psychology, in his Introduction to Psychology class.

Eighteen students in the Honors Composition I class taught by Eric DeVillez wrote their own questions and conducted video interviews with each visitor. They will use the taped interviews to write feature articles about the alumni.

DeVillez said his students benefit from the project in many ways. They gain practical experience as writers, learn the pros and cons of group work, understand the many layers of work that need completed to build polished writing, network with influential public figures, hone interviewing skills, and learn about writing to multiple audiences.

“Most importantly, they experience how cool it is to see their own writing out there for anyone and everyone to read,” he added.

Kari Pantol, assistant director of alumni relations and the annual fund at the Foundation, said the day went really well. “The alumni were so happy. They liked interacting with the students. The four who flew in to be here were glad they did. Kelly said this was the best day of her year,” she said.

The alumni toured the campus with student ambassadors and enjoyed lunch with Dr. Jenkins. Deno and Peterson also attended the Veteran’s Day Celebration that morning.

Pantol hopes to involve more students with next year’s group of Hall of Fame alumni and wants to connect more students and alumni throughout the year.

“Anytime we can give students confidence or an opportunity to ask questions of someone who used to be in their shoes, we should,” she said.