Sally Shields has been selected as the Spoon River College Employee of the Quarter for the fourth quarter of the academic year. She has been employed by College for six years as the public information coordinator.
Shields was chosen for her adherence to the core values of the College – caring, respect, integrity, and responsibility – in her everyday interactions with co-workers, students, and community members.
Shields was recognized for her sincere interest in SRC students, the encouragement she offers them as they pursue their academic goals, her willingness to “be the person behind the camera at many functions” long after the regular workday is over, and her ability to view others’ perspectives on issues and “be calm and a good influence on those around her.”
When not working, Shields enjoys reading, writing, traveling, music and art… although not necessarily in that order. She is a 2006 graduate of Spoon River College, and a 2008 graduate of Western Illinois University. She resides in Canton.
It was 1979 and Patty Schmidt had three children to raise. She knew two things: she needed a good job, and she needed to finish her high school education in order to get a good job. She enrolled in the GED program at Spoon River College.
“I was scared,” said Schmidt. “The whole process was intimidating to me; just walking through the front doors of the College to sign up took a lot of courage.”
But Schmidt made it through those front doors, through the classes, successfully passed her GED exam, and also successfully completed the certified nursing assistant program at the College. She was no longer scared, and she had learned what many other non-traditional students had learned before her.
“The younger students weren’t smarter than I was, I hadn’t forgotten how to study, and I didn’t get lost looking for my classrooms,” said Schmidt.
Eventually Schmidt enrolled in the data processing program and in January 1991 was chosen for an internship in the SRC data processing department, working nights for class credit.
“I knew as soon as I started, ‘I love this stuff.’ I knew I had found my career,” said Schmidt.
Schmidt received her Associates in Applied Science in May 1991, and was soon hired by the College as a computer operator. As her knowledge and experience grew, her position and responsibilities grew also. In 2007, Schmidt applied for and was hired for the position she currently holds as the director of information services.
Schmidt confesses that she had hoped all the computer classes would also help her beat her boys at Mario.
“That never happened, but I did get a satisfying career that I have enjoyed for the last 21 years,” said Schmidt. “I’ll take that.”
“I should have listened to my dad,” said Kevin Bell, whose father told him to pursue a career in computer technology.
“But this was way before computers were a household item,” said Bell, who graduated from Canton High School in 1979.
Instead, Bell attended Spoon River College and then transferred to Western Illinois University, where he earned a B.S. in Biology and an M.S. in Micro-biology.
Upon graduation from WIU, Bell accepted a research position with the College of Medicine in Peoria, and it was while working there that he encountered his first personal computer.
“I was researching the effects of aspartame on rats, and the department got a PC to help in the study. I started doing some data entry and basic programming, and I was hooked,” said Bell, who immediately signed up for the nearest accelerated COBAL class he could find.
The rest, as they say, is history, and for Bell, the timing was everything.
“I finished the computer program, my wife was expecting our first child, and we wanted to move back to Canton,” said Bell. “I got a call from SRC employee Jim Hinchee, who wondered if I would be interested in a job at the College as a programmer/analyst. I was.”
That was 20 years ago, and Bell has never had any regrets about leaving the world of biology in exchange for the world of technology. He’s one of the lucky ones who spends his workdays doing something he enjoys.
“I guess dad did know best,”