When Rick Duvendack was five years old, he wanted to be a rock star.
That didn’t happen. Instead, he took what he considered to be “the biggest risk ever” and joined the military, serving for more than 20 years before retiring. That experience serves him well in his new role as the Financial Aid Specialist for veterans who are returning to college.
“My time in the military prepared me well for dealing with a diverse student population, many of whom have a multitude of financial aid needs,” said Duvendack. “Working with students can be challenging – you don’t know their backgrounds, what or how life circumstances have affected them, or what they need from us – but it’s also rewarding. Seeing a smile on a student’s face, seeing them succeed, and hearing a ‘hey, thanks for your help’ makes it all worthwhile.”
Duvendack and his wife Chris, who he calls his best role model, have four children and reside in Canton. When not at SRC, Duvendack can be found fishing, building backyard games, and cheering on the St. Louis Cardinals.
Duvendack, who says the best life lesson he ever learned was to pay it forward and who dreams of traveling to Germany and England where many of his ancestors are from, has this advice for students: “This is just the beginning. Learning is a life-long journey, and there is so much out there to learn and achieve. Never give up on your dreams.”
Perhaps Duvendack will be a rock star yet…
Rob Kirkham, Director of the Rushville Center for the past six years, is known for his dedication to SRC and the Rushville community, his photography skills (he chases storms, camera in hand), and his love for and knowledge of astronomy.
What many might not know is that he loves almost any kind of music from Steppenwolf to Segovia, his first car was a patched together GTO, Tempest, SS combination that he loved because “when I stepped on the gas pedal, smoke came out of the tailpipes, the fuel gage dropped, and the car roared to life,” and by the time he was seven years old, he knew he wanted to be an ordained minister (and he is!).
Being the director of an educational center is a good fit for Kirkham, who says he has always liked learning, teaching, and reaching for new goals. He also enjoys helping others, and says “I am at my best when I am concentrating on a goal or someone else rather than thinking about myself.”
Kirkham has this advice for students. “Failure is not final and success is not static. For me, education was never about careers or income. It was about becoming the best I could be. Work was never about a pay check. I’ve accepted jobs without knowing what the salary would be. Work is about the passion that is generated when your personal makeup fits into that niche where it can make a difference in your little corner of the world. Some people keep looking for short cuts and never become all they could be. Others procrastinate or never take a leap until their lives have passed them by. Don’t spend your lives dreaming about imaginary adventures. Make your life an adventure.”
Kirkham takes his own advice and is such a risk-taker that his wife Sue came up with the slogan, “Anything that doesn’t kill you will make a good story for the grandkids.”
Tamatha Schleich first came to SRC in 1979 when she was four years old. Her mother was a nursing student, and Schleich attended the College’s daycare. She didn’t know it then, but that experience would prove beneficial many years later.
After graduating high school, Schleich returned to SRC and completed an Associate of Science degree, then returned again in 1998 as the nursing skills lab preceptor after completing her BSN from OSF. She’s been here ever since, becoming a full-time faculty member in 2004 and the Director of the Allied Health and Nursing program in 2013.
“Remembering what it was like when I was a child and my mom was going through nursing school has helped me understand the stress and time constraints that our students who are also parents are dealing with,” said Schleich. “I always hope they realize how their success will positively influence their children.”
Being a nursing instructor, a mother of three, and also a working RN in a hospital setting, Schleich doesn’t have much free time, but she fantasizes about going to England someday to see where her grandmother grew up and to see the castles. Other things you might not know about Schleich? She’ll do anything to avoid crying, she “needs” tea every day, and if she could meet one famous person, it would be Florence Nightingale, because “I want to ask her what it was really like back when she was a nurse.”
Schleich says taking time to make sure students fully understand what she’s teaching is a priority, and she wants them to remember that “anything worth doing takes work and is well worth the effort for success.”
Schleich has also earned a BS in Healthcare Management from SIUC and a MSN from the University of Phoenix.