D211 Post: Chicago Journalist and Schaumburg Alum Talks Career Path

WCIU The Jam host Amy Rutledge speaks to students at Schaumburg High School about her career in broadcast journalism.

 

           Students enrolled in Schaumburg High School’s broadcast course, as well as those interested in the journalism career pathway, had a unique opportunity to hear from The Jam morning show host, and SHS alum, Amy Rutledge about her career and experiences. 

            Students involved with the school’s broadcast media outlet “The Burg,” reached out to Rutledge through social media.  Schaumburg High School art department chair Jessica Aulisio said it was part of a project which had students looking for graduates working in the career field.

            “I’m so grateful Amy responded and was able to take time out of her busy schedule to talk with our students,” said Aulisio.  “This created a moment where the students were able to connect many things they see in the classroom to its use in the field of journalism and broadcasting.”

            Over the course of nearly an hour, Rutledge recounted her career from working in places such as Marion, Illinois, to Las Vegas and ultimately returning to Chicago.  She discussed the many aspects of working in journalism from being a producer to different assignments as a reporter and anchor.    She explained that the industry can be difficult to work in but can be very rewarding.

          “It’s a busy lifestyle.  There are a lot of sacrifices you make in this industry.” she told the students.  “But if you get it and stick with it, it is very amazing.  I have interviewed all of the last five Presidents, been to pretty much every state in the country, and covered most of the recent major events you may know of.”

          Rutledge then showed the students two previous stories she worked on and explained the process in putting both together.  She then answered student questions about the various aspects of the journalism career pathway.

          Junior Melissa Schneider, one of the student anchors for “The Burg,” said she was excited to have the opportunity to speak with a professional in the career she herself hopes to pursue.

         “It was really cool to learn more in depth details about the career,” she said.  “It was exciting to see and talk with a professional.  The fact that she was once a student here is crazy.  It’s really inspiring.”

        Rutledge hopes she was able to build excitement in the industry.

        “Journalism is in a tough time right now where what we do is being questioned so much, but it is so important,” she said.  “I want people to be excited to go out and tell stories.  It’s great to see that there are students who are excited about this job.  I need to know that we are leaving this job to young, capable hands.”

        On being back at her old high school, Rutledge said that it was a bit surreal.

       “It’s a bit weird.  I haven’t been back since graduation,” she said.  “The second floor still seems familiar but the first floor has changed.  It’s a beautiful school.”




D211 Post: Class Ring Returned After 44 Years

            When Ruth Ford-Drake was a student at William Fremd High School, she did what most teenagers of the ‘70’s did when they started a new relationship.  She gave her boyfriend her class ring.  That exchange was the last time she would see the ring for 44 years. 

            “The ring cost around $150 at the time,” Ford-Drake said.  “When it went missing, I couldn’t even tell my mom that it had been lost.”

          

Ruth Ford-Drake when she was a junior at Fremd High School in 1974.

            Assuming the ring went missing at her boyfriend’s house, Ford-Drake said they searched for it for an extensive amount of time.  Following her junior year at Fremd, Ford-Drake moved to Northbrook where she graduated in 1975. At that point, she gave the ring up for lost.

            Fast forward to 2019 and an item bouncing from office to office.  Fremd Speech Language Pathologist Tara Pegarsch, who manages the Fremd alumni Facebook page said a faculty member approached her with an old class ring.

            “This ring had gone from office to office for years with people trying to find the owner,” Pegarsch said.  “They brought to ring to me to see if I could use the page to find her.”

The ring was posted to the Fremd alumni Facebook page.

            After finding the engraved name within the ring, she posted a photo on the page hoping one of the members would recognize the name.  Within 10 minutes, Ford-Drake’s sister had responded.  Through that response, Pegarsch was able to contact Ford-Drake directly.

            “I received a message asking if I graduated from Fremd in 1975,” said Ford-Drake.  “I initially thought it was a scam.  Then I saw the ring in the picture and realized it was real.”

            After the initial shock of seeing the missing ring passed, Ford-Drake said she was finally able to do something she hadn’t been able to do in four decades.

            “I called my mother to tell her,” she said.  “She spent so much on that ring that I couldn’t tell her it was missing until I had it back on my finger.”

            Ford-Drake added that she was thrilled to have the ring returned after giving up for lost. 

            “I appreciate Tara reaching out to me,” she said.  “I’m grateful for kind and caring people like her.  It’s nice to know there are still people like that.”




D211 Post: Hoffman Estates Alumnae Selected for Team USA Bowling

            When Sarah Wille, a 2014 graduate of Hoffman Estates High School was a small child, her grandmother gave her a bowling ball.  That gift set her on a path which has included multiple competitions, try-outs, state playoffs, championships, even a visit to the White House.  Now Willie can add Team USA member to the list.

            Wille was named to the Team USA Women’s bowling team following tryouts earlier this year.  She said when she heard her name called she was shocked.

            “I thought about all of the people I was trying out against,” she said.  “I didn’t think I was going to make it this time.  When they called me, I cried because I was so happy.”

            Wille was a four-year varsity letter recipient during her time with the Hawks, including a senior season which saw the team place third in state.  Coach Dan Pfligler said Wille was a player with a “team first,” mentality.

            “She was a pleasure to coach as she never complained about anything,” Pfligler said.  “She’s a bowler that a coach wishes you had a whole team of.”

            After graduating from Wille went on to play at McKendree College under coach Shannon O’Keefe.  Earlier this year McKendree won the NCAA National Bowling Championship. 

            O’Keefe  said when Wille graduates, the team will miss her.

            “Sarah brings a never quite attitude and a silliness that can lighten any mood,” O’Keefe said.  “The team is going to miss her when she graduates.”

            O’Keefe, also a member of Team USA said she is looking forward to working with Wille as a teammate.

            “Sarah is a phenomenal player, with a work ethic like I’ve never seen,” O’Keefe said.  “She is a true leader in our collegiate team, and I’m so proud that I also get to now call her a teammate on Team USA!”

            Wille said with the transition to Team USA she is looking forward to the new experiences. 

            “I am looking forward to bowling with the greatest in the world,” Wille said.  “All these women are a real inspiration.”

            With this announcement, Wille will attend a training camp in Texas later this year. 




District 211 Alumna Susan Szuch Awarded the Michael E. DeBakey Journalism Award

NBC Correspondent Kerry Sanders and Susan pose with her award. Photo Courtesy Susan Szuch

NBC Correspondent Kerry Sanders and Susan pose with her award. Photo Courtesy Susan Szuch

Fremd High School Alumna Susan Szuch was recently awarded for an article she wrote for The Daily Illini, her collegiate school newspaper.

The Foundation for Biomedical Research’s (FBR) 14th annual Michael E. DeBakey Journalism Awards recognizes journalists that highlight the role of biomedical research that includes the humane and responsible use of animal models, cell cultures, and computer modeling in recent medical discoveries and scientific breakthroughs. Susan received an award, scholarship, and attended an awards dinner hosted by NBC Correspondent Kerry Sanders.

“When I found out I received the award, it completely floored me,” Susan said. “I am still in shock and humbled – I sometimes wonder if they picked the right person. I am very honored, especially because a part of the award is to show the public the humane and responsible use of animal testing and how it can benefit medical and biomedical research. Knowing that my story is helping do that means a lot.”

Susan is a sophomore at the University of Illinois, and works for The Daily Illini as the copy chief and a features department staff writer. Her article, “University Professors Make Developments in Cancer Fights for Humans, Dogs,” highlights the misunderstandings behind the use of dogs in research. The topic originally piqued her interest after a larger story done by a local NBC affiliate. Once she explored the topic further, she discovered what really happens with the animals.

“It was not what I expected. [My] piece ended up being something that worked against the stigma of animal research and such,” she said. “It showed how the dogs that are used in the beginning stages of research, which is testing dosage, how long the drug will stay in the system, and how it’s absorbed best. The lead researcher actually adopted one of the dogs. All of them get adopted out.”

The FHS alumna recieved the Michael E. DeBakey award for an article she wrote about biomedical research involving dogs.

The FHS alumna recieved the Michael E. DeBakey award for an article she wrote about biomedical research involving dogs. Photo Courtesy Susan Szuch

Susan said she first had a glimpse of what journalism is like while at Fremd High School during her freshman year. Initially she was hesitant to get involved, but with a bit of encouragement from her mother she decided to join. She also said her newspaper sponsors, Fremd High School English Teachers Russ Anderson and Grant Dawson, always encouraged and supported the newspaper staff at FHS.

“My sophomore year I competed in the IHSA journalism competition,” she said. “After doing that and working at the paper – I was an editor that year – I knew it was something I really loved. Helping others become better writers and being able to get people’s stories out there, I loved working with people in that capacity.”

Looking toward the future, Susan is not sure where exactly she would like to go with her journalism career once she graduates. She is highly interested in graphic design, as well as freelance writing. She also enjoys science writing and the idea of working in magazines. Regardless of what she decides, she said she knows there is a lot she can do with her degree and that she would be happy with a number of career choices.

To read Susan’s article, please click here.




2007 PHS Alumna Visits Classes to Discuss Career in Deep Space Exploration

Coralie Jackman, a 2007 PHS alumna, visited PHS classes to discuss her career in space exploration.

Coralie Jackman, a 2007 PHS alumna, visited PHS classes to discuss her career in space exploration.

Coralie Jackman, a 2007 Palatine High School alumna, recently returned to PHS to discuss her career in deep space exploration with students.

Jackman is a deep space navigator for KinetX Aerospace, an engineering, technology, software development and business consulting firm specializing in aerospace systems. She recently visited PHS engineering and astronomy classes to discuss her work on various missions that explored deep space.

“I was in all the clubs when I was here, and I loved this school,” she said. “It’s really fun to come back to talk to the students and try to inspire them. There are always a few students who are really interested in this field. Talking to them one-on-one is interesting because I can see a spark when they see the passions they are starting to discover can be realized.”

Although her job has many different functions, she uses optical navigation to help graph missions in deep space using images taken from a spacecraft. This determines where the spacecraft is and where it needs to go for its mission. While she visited PHS, students asked questions about missions she has worked on, as well as what it’s like working in her field every day.

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While she visited PHS, students asked questions about missions she has worked on, as well as what it’s like working in her field every day.

Students also asked how she discovered her passion and turned it into a career. She told students that she became very interested in the topic during freshman year of high school and got involved. She joined clubs and immersed herself in the subject, which made it an easy transition while choosing her path after graduation.

“I tell students to follow their interests, do what they find interesting and see where that takes them,” she said. “Don’t just follow the mold and do what is expected, because when you are passionate about something your work is fun.”

She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering Sciences from the University of Colorado Boulder, and plans to visit PHS when she is back in town.




Schaumburg High School Alumnus Honored for Board of Education Military Recognition

Schaumburg High Schooll Alumnus and Private First Class Leon Dixon at the Board of Education meeting on Jan. 15, 2015.

Schaumburg High School Alumnus and Private First Class Leon Dixon at the Board of Education meeting on Jan. 15, 2015.

Recently, District 211 started a new tradition to honor alumni for the service they have given to their country.

Schaumburg High School Alumnus and Private First Class Leon Dixon was honored and thanked for his service in the National Guard by the Board of Education at its Jan. 15 meeting. Dixon is the third alumnus to be recognized for his service and started the meeting by leading the Pledge of Allegiance.

Dixon completed boot camp in August 2013. From there, he completed Advanced Individual Training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. Currently, he is part of the Illinois National Guard and is working toward becoming active duty in the Army in an officer position. Additionally, if he pursues further education he would like to become a physician’s assistant in the Army.

As a student at Schaumburg High School, Dixon said he wasn’t interested in joining the military even though he has family that serves. After encouragement and support from his family, he decided to join the National Guard to help him reach his collegiate goals. Now, he is eager to be active duty and encourages others to take advantage of all the opportunities the military offers.

“I would tell students considering to enter the military to do it,” Dixon said. “Do everything you can while you’re in. It helps you pay for college and you will have so many opportunities you might not have had without it.”

The Board of Education will continue Military Recognitions for District 211 graduates who are serving or have served before each meeting.




First District 211 Alumnus Honored for Board of Education Military Recognition

Corporal Neph Ramos, also a 2012 Conant High School graduate, at an event wearing his dress blues uniform.

Corporal Neph Ramos, also a 2012 Conant High School graduate, at an event wearing his dress blues uniform.

A new tradition started for District 211 to thank graduates for the service they have given to their country.

Marine Corporal Neph Ramos, a 2012 graduate of Conant High School, was honored and thanked for his military services at the start of the Board of Education meeting on Nov. 13. Ramos is the first graduate to be recognized for his service and started the meeting by leading the Pledge of Allegiance.

“I didn’t know that I was the first person to be invited because I thought this had already happened before, but I was pretty excited when I found out I was the first one,” Ramos said. “I think it is pretty cool that the District is trying to do something for people who choose this route in life. It nice to see they are taking the time to appreciate those people and recognize those who decide to do this.”

Ramos joined the Marine Corps following high school graduation and went to Boot Camp in San Diego, Calif., in August 2012.  He said he never thought about joining the military, but was interested when a friend brought it up to him. Upon graduation from Boot Camp in November 2012, he received a Meritorious Promotion to Private First Class and began Combat Training at Camp Pendleton, Calif., in January 2013.

Following Combat Training in March 2013, he was promoted to Lance Corporal, trained as a Flight Equipment Technician aboard a Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla., where he maintains, adjusts, fixes, or correct anything necessary on survival gear such as flotation devices, parachutes, and oxygen systems. He graduated at the top of his class in September 2013.  He was promoted to Corporal in August of this year, and his squadron is currently stationed at Camp Pendleton.

Ramos being honored before the Board of Education at its Nov. 13 meeting.

Ramos being honored before the Board of Education at its Nov. 13 meeting.

He plans on doing another tour of duty, continue as a Flight Equipment Technician, and attend college to earn a degree. He hopes to someday join an organization such as the FBI, DEA, or CIA. He said the opportunities that the military has offered him, such as benefits and college tuition, are unlike any that he would have had otherwise. He added that it’s rare to come across someone interested in entering the military, but he would recommend joining with an honest description of what to expect.

“I would tell students that this isn’t an easy life and isn’t for the lighthearted,” he said. “Since I have been gone, I think there was one year I was only home for 10 days. That’s it. I was gone the rest of the year. It’s not an easy life but it’s worth it as far as what you get to do, the opportunities you receive, and the benefits they provide for you.”

The Board of Education will continue Military Recognitions for District 211 graduates who are serving or have served before each meeting.