Oakton to Honor Distinguished Alumni Nov. 14

Submitted by Oakton College Relations

Des Plaines, Ill. (Oct. 30, 2018) – Oakton Community College will recognize four alumni – Kristina Garcia, Franklin Ortega Palaguachi, Jaqueline Saper and Randi Schneider – at the college’s second Distinguished Alumni Awards, starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, at the Student Center, 1600 E. Golf Road, Des Plaines. The awards, presented by the Oakton Educational Foundation and Office of Alumni Relations, recognize former Oakton students who have excelled professionally and provided inspirational service to the community.

“Oakton is a launching pad for many students to go on to successful careers,” Senior Manager of Development and Alumni Relations Elena Couto says. “We want to continue to honor individuals as distinguished alumni for their impact and contributions to society.”

A selection committee combed through numerous nominations of former students who earned an Oakton degree, certificate or completed a minimum of 24 credit hours and dwindled the selection to just four recipients.

Garcia, a resident of Morton Grove, earned an associate of arts in liberal arts in 2009 and currently serves as the associate director of commuter student advocacy and student engagement at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Before UIC, Garcia coordinated off-campus services at Loyola University Chicago and student organizations and leadership programming at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU). Garcia earned a bachelor’s degree in English from NEIU and a master’s degree in higher education from Loyola, where she is pursuing a doctorate in higher education.

A Niles resident, Ortega Franklin Palaguachi is an Oakton alumnus who also served as ¡ANDALE! at Oakton program coordinator. While at Oakton, Ortega offered support to increase the retention, persistence and success of the college’s Latinx students. He also advocated for the personal, emotional, social, academic and career development of all students while at the college. He received his bachelor’s degree in Latino and Latin American studies from NEIU in 2015 and his master’s degree in educational leadership and higher educational administration at NEIU in 2018. He currently serves as a retention specialist and success coach at Dominican University, where he provides student coaching, guidance and support to students to ensure they have the best opportunity to achieve their educational goals.

A Wilmette resident, Saper graduated from Oakton in 1992 with an associate of arts in liberal arts. Currently she serves as an educator for the college’s Emeritus Program. She attended NEIU, where she graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in business and later received the designation of certified public account from the Board of Examiners of the University of Illinois. Saper has volunteered her time and language skills to organizations such as the National Immigrant Justice Center as a translator for immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. She is a member of the Chicago Writers Association Speakers Bureau and dedicates her time to a community of creative writers. Her opinion columns and essays appear in several publications including “The Forward,” “American Thinker,” “Breitbart” and “Persian Heritage.” Born and raised in Iran, she is the author of the forthcoming memoir, “FROM MINISKIRT TO HIJAB: A Girl in Pre- and Post-revolutionary Iran” to be published by the University of Nebraska Press – Potomac Books in spring 2019.

Schneider received an associate of arts in liberal arts from Oakton in 1981. The Mundelein resident recently retired as associate vice president for enrollment management at Governors State University, where she also served as director of academic engagement. Before Governors State, Schneider was the director of success programs at Kent State University. She received both a bachelor’s degree in social work and master’s degree in counseling from Illinois State University. In addition, she has a doctoral degree in educational organization and leadership from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. Serving as a student leader at Oakton influenced Schneider to work in higher education for three decades.

The event is free to Oakton alumni and the community. RSVP at www.oakton.edu/alumni by Friday, Nov. 8.