#MyDACCAlumniStory highlights Shanay, a 2001 ASA grad who currently is Director of TRiO & Student Success Center at DACC. Shanay came to DACC straight from Danville High School’s class of 1999. She received the Bobby Short Scholarship which she says was, “a HUGE help” with her college expenses.
“It all started at DACC for me,” Shanay says. “I knew I wanted a college degree but I didn’t have a plan in place.” When the time came to register for her first semester at DACC she says, “I didn’t have a clue about a major or which classes I needed to take. I didn’t know how I was going to pay for college or how to apply for financial aid.”
Despite the things she didn’t know, she DID know that she wanted a bachelor’s degree and that an Associate degree from DACC would get her halfway there.
Shanay says, “The groundwork that was laid at DACC was at the right place and right time for me. I have come full circle and I am blessed to be able to help other students -- just like I once was – journey through their own pathway to success.”
A brief stint as a Student Worker in the Advisement Office one summer taught Shanay some valuable life skills. “I learned so much about working in an office and displaying quality customer service from now-retired Office Specialist Dianne Marble. As simple as it seems, what I learned in that short period of time I still use today.”
After transferring to Illinois State University, Shanay went on to earn both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Family and Consumer Sciences. While at ISU she worked as a Resident Assistant and eventually as a Graduate Assistant in the Office of Intercultural Programs and Services – now known as Diversity Advocacy. After graduating, she stayed at ISU for two and half years in their Alumni Relations office before returning to DACC in 2009 as an Academic Advisor. She has been the Director of TRiO and the Student Success Center since 2013.
Personally, Shanay has created a wonderful family with her husband DeMarko and their three beautiful children. She says if she could have dinner with anyone, living or deceased, she would choose her grandfather, Antonio Huerta II, who passed away before she and her twin sister were born. Her dream vacation would be tracing her roots through Africa and Mexico. The most recent book she read for pleasure was Becoming by Michelle Obama. She’s happiest when she’s sharing a meal with her family.
We’re so proud to claim Shanay as one of our family! She’s a shining example of the impact of community colleges on the students we serve.
#MyDACCAlumniStory highlights Alex, a Summa Cum Laude graduate from December 2014 who came to DACC from Schlarman Academy. Alex got a head start on college by taking several dual enrollment courses to earn college credit while she was still in high school....
Alex made the most of her time at DACC working as a Student Worker for Community Education and serving as first Vice President and then President of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She received several scholarships through the DACC Foundation, including the Pete & Doris Clapp Scholarship and Education Personnel Federal Credit Union Scholarship.
Alex’s favorite person at DACC was her dad, Professor Rich Pate, followed closely by former Vice President Dave Kietzmann. She says both gentlemen truly care about students and were positive influences on her life and choices.
After graduation, Alex transferred to the University of Illinois where she graduated with highest honors with a Bachelor of Science in Media and Cinema Studies in 2016.
Alex currently works as the Social Media Coordinator and Communications Designer for Common Ground Research Networks at the UIUC Research Park in Champaign. She just moved back to Danville with her boyfriend and American Bobtail cat. She loves to go to concerts, travel, and watch movies…all activities that have been curtailed by COVID-19. She’s looking forward to the day when she can freely travel again. “Until 2020, I spent the past 5 summer vacations in Canada,” she says. “I’d love to go back to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, and I want to visit the Napa Valley someday.”
In the meantime, she and her family and friends can enjoy her favorite Papa Del’s Pizza and watching the Fighting Illini play basketball.
When asked about her time at DACC, Alex said, “All of my classes were very interesting and taught by very passionate Professors. They all cared about my success as a student and made time to meet with me if I had questions.” Her most memorable moments were taking History classes taught by her dad – her favorite subject taught by her favorite professor!
Thanks for sharing, Alex. We know you’ll do great things!
#MyDACCAlumniStory highlights Michaela Gomez who received her
Fine Art degree from DACC in 2018. From DACC, Michaela transferred
to Eastern Illinois University to study Art Education... and received her
Bachelor’s in Fine Art and her K-12 Education Licensure in December
2020. After completing student teaching during the COVID year,
Michaela was hired to teach high school art at her old high school,
Danville High School, in January 2021.
Michaela says DACC was the right place to start her college journey because it allowed her to stay to close to home while growing as a person and artist through her work with Professors Ronnie Johnson and Louis Ballard. She made the most of her time at DACC, serving as co-President of the Art Club and participating and placing in several student art competitions. She was a member of Pi Omega chapter of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society and was a PTK All-Illinois Academic Team member in 2018.
She says her most memorable moments were during her summer internship at the Prairie Center in 2018. “This experience really opened my eyes to how art can positively impact others,” she says. “I love how creative you can be with art. There is a type of art for every person, whether you are drawn to abstract or realism.”
Michaela says her favorite people at DACC were Professors Johnson and Ballard. “They were amazing mentors,” she states. “They reaffirmed my decision to go into art education with their dedication to the field of art and their students.”
No surprise, Michaela’s favorite activity is painting. She says she loves to see her ideas come to life on the canvas. If she could have dinner with anyone, living or deceased, she’d choose Vincent Van Gogh. “He never gave up on his art career, despite having little success during his lifetime, because it was his passion.”
Congratulations on your new job, Michaela. We know you’ll do great things at DHS!
#daccpride #arteducation #daccworksforyou
#MyDACCAlumniStory highlights Willow, a 2019 Summa Cum Laude
graduate who earned her Associate of Arts in Spanish Education. She
completed 30 college credit hours while still a student at Georgetown-
Ridge Farm High School and was able... to finish her Associate degree in
only one year! An exemplary student in both high school and college, Willow earned a Presidential Scholarship from the DACC Foundation and was active in the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society at DACC.
Willow transferred to Illinois State University to complete her teaching degree and certification and now just three years out of high school and in the midst of a pandemic – is finishing her student teaching at Danville High School. Since she transferred she has been active in the National Spanish Honor Society and was able to study abroad in Spain – an experience that was unfortunately cut short by the COVID pandemic.
Besides being able to complete half her Associate degree before she graduated from high school, Willow says DACC was the right place at the right time for her because she could continue to work while she went to school.
“I worked at Project Success, an after school program for at-risk kids,” she says. “In addition to being affordable, DACC helped me get ahead in my career.”
She says her favorite people at DACC were Dr. Jonathan Wade and Dr. Wendy Brown because they made class time fun and genuinely cared about students. “Dr. Brown brought us cupcakes and Dr. Wade hosted carry-ins!” Clearly, that was pre-COVID, but they obviously set good examples for an up-and- coming teacher!
While finishing her student teaching, Willow has returned home to Georgetown and is working at Monical”s Pizza in Tilton. She says if she could re-do one thing about her college experience it would be to slow down and enjoy it more. “While grades are important, they aren’t everything!” she states. “I wish had taken time to participate in more activities and expand my circle of friends.”
Willow says her dream vacation would be to return to Spain to finish her Study Abroad experience, but she’s happy to be back at home. She comes from a big family and says, “I’m happiest when I can play games with my family. It’s not very often that all seven of us can play a game together, so it’s something I look forward to doing.”
Good luck, Willow. You’ll be a great teacher!
#MyDACCAlumniStory highlights Dr. Dwight A. Lucas II who received his Associate of Science and Art degree from DACC in 2003 and then transferred to Illinois State University ...to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Studio Art. After ISU, Dwight continued his education at Tiffin University, earning a Master’s in Humanities with a thesis titled Interpretation of African American Visual Art. Finally, while working full-time and juggling family commitments with a wife and young son, Dwight became Dr. Lucas when he earned his Ph.D. in Humanities from Faulkner University.
Dwight, who has been a Business Professor at DACC since 2011, says DACC was the right starting point for his education because, “Academically, it was a great place to start and find what I wanted to do. I could experiment with different subjects to figure out what interested me most.” In addition to Graphic Design courses, Dwight teaches an African American History course.
Dwight teaches high school students as part of the DACC College Express program and says he wishes those opportunities for early and reduced-cost college credit had been available when he was attending Danville High School. Instead, he paid for his tuition by working at the Burger King on Main Street.
Dwight says he is happiest when he is spending time with his family or when he’s learning something new. He recalls about his time at DACC that, “I frequently studied things I was not taking classes in…jazz music, music theory, philosophy, Black studies, theology. This “extra” studying played a big role in my pursuit of an academic career in the Humanities.”
His favorite person at DACC was former Art instructor Louis Ballard. “His art courses were so fun. He was a brilliant teacher and encouraged me to pursue my art goals. I dedicated my master’s thesis to him because he was a component of my success.”
With a 6-year old son, it’s no surprise that the last movie Dwight saw in a theater was Tom and Jerry, the Movie. His last concert was Mwenso and the Shakes at The Krannert Center. Just for fun, Dwight likes to “write prose and poetry; read the Bible or books on theology, philosophy, Black history, and social sciences; play alto saxophone and make music; or listen to jazz.”
We’re so proud to say that Dr. Dwight Lucas is a DACC alumnus and Professor! His students benefit daily from the fact that he has walked in their shoes, knows the path they are on, and has followed it to a successful and rewarding career!