Chicago Heights , IL—(ENEWSPF)— Commencement speaker Dr. Elaine P. Maimon had three pieces of advice for students who graduated from Prairie State College on May 17. During the 49th Commencement, Maimon, the president of Governors State University, encouraged the graduates to root for their friends and colleagues to succeed, to be passionate about work and life, and to keep learning.
“Make plans to keep learning, and major in something that interests you intellectually,” said Maimon. “It doesn’t matter what you major in when pursuing your undergraduate degree. Concentrate on learning to solve problems, communicating effectively, and working well with other people.”
During the ceremony, PSC graduates Lesliefaye Gogins and Bryce Johnsen received the President’s Leadership Award. This award is given to outstanding graduates who have maintained high academic standing, made significant leadership contributions to the college, and demonstrated the values of responsible citizenship.
During her tenure as student trustee, Gogins was a strong voice for the student body, according to school officials. She advocated for all community college students through her involvement with the Association of Community College Trustees, attending summits in Washington D.C., to meet with legislators to urge priority funding for community colleges. By invitation of the Illinois Community College Trustees Association, she spoke on behalf of students at the Community College Coalition for Funding’s inaugural news conference at the State Capitol in Springfield. Gogins was an active member of the Black Student Union, the Student Government Association, and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She graduated with an associate in arts degree in liberal arts and plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in public administration.
As president of the Student Government Association (SGA), Johnsen organized and participated in numerous student events. In his role as SGA president, he attended the board of trustee meetings, often addressing the board on issues relevant to students. Additionally, he provided student representation and served as vice chair of PSC’s College Council. Mr. Johnsen was also sports editor of The PSC Student Messenger and a member of the Political Science Club. Johnsen graduated with an associate in arts degree in liberal arts and will pursue a bachelor’s degree in communications.
Also honored at the ceremony were graduates Jonathan Pitman and Brian Katzberger. They were recognized as members of the Phi Theta Kappa All-Illinois Academic Team. Phi Theta Kappa is the national honor society of U.S. two-year colleges.
Katzberger has distinguished himself by maintaining high grades while being a student leader. Among his activities as vice president of services for the Phi Theta Kappa Nu Sigma Chapter, he spearheaded the Project Graduation food and book drive that benefited South Suburban Public Action to Deliver Shelter. As president of the Political Science Club, he helped organize a voter registration drive, hosted guest speakers on the first amendment, and participated in and organized PSC’s delegation to Model Illinois Government. Katzberger graduated magna cum laude with an associate in arts degree in business and plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business.
Pitman has demonstrated excellent leadership skills and dedication to community service including volunteering for Kiwanis Pancake Day and Peanut Day, the Keep America Beautiful project, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, and Project Graduation. Off campus, Pitman volunteered more than 300 hours at Saint Margaret Mercy Hospital in Dyer, Indiana. Pitman graduated magna cum laude with an associate in arts degree in mass communications and plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education.