Dena Roland Woods, Author at Southwestern Illinois College

SWIC to host a Virtual Spring Job Fair April 28

If you’re looking for a new job or just want to explore your employment possibilities, it’s time for you to attend the Southwestern Illinois College Virtual Spring Job Fair. Employers from a variety of career fields are expected to participate in the event.

The virtual fair runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday, April 28. All job seekers are welcome and the event is open to the public.

To register for the event, visit

For more information, call Career Services at 618-235-2700, ext. 5562, or toll free in Illinois at 866-942-SWIC (7942), ext. 5562.

Celebrate Spring with the SWIC Plant Sale and Family Fun Day in April

Dig out your gardening tools – it’s spring! The SWIC Horticulture program is selling reasonably priced water and vegetable plants, tropicals, perennials, annuals, and herbs grown by SWIC students over the winter.

You can get your green thumbs (and fingers) on these plants at the annual Plant Sale April 22-23 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and April 24 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the SWIC Belleville Campus, 2500 Carlyle Ave. The sale will be held in the greenhouse, located on the southeast corner of campus behind the baseball fields.

“Horticulture students play a major role in growing and nurturing these healthy, hardy plants throughout the semester,” said SWIC Horticulture Program Coordinator Kurt Range. “They get to see their hard work pay off by selling these beautiful, hardy plants.”

Only cash and check payments will be accepted. Proceeds benefit the Horticulture program.

In addition to the plant sale, SWIC will also be hosting a family fun day Saturday, April 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be food and drinks available for purchase from SWIC’s very own food truck, Ollie’s Eatery; free flower pot decorating; carnival games and bounce houses. Also on display will be SWIC’s CNC mobile truck, a helicopter and more!

Everyone must wear a mask and social distance. For more information about the plant sale contact Kurt Range at 618-235-2700, ext. 5135 or

SWIC to Host Workshop for Parents of Future College Students April 20

If you are preparing to send your son or daughter to college in the near future, the Southwestern Illinois College workshop, Parent 101, can help you understand the ins and outs of the college process.

This free in-person or online workshop will be held Tuesday, April 20, from 6-7 p.m. The event is open to the parents or families of future college students in eighth through twelfth grades. Face masks and social distancing will be required.

The informational presentation will include:

– Timeline for preparing for college
– The financial aid process
– Earning college credit in high school  
– Transferring courses to four-year universities
– Cost saving benefits of education and training at the community college

To learn more and to register, visit:

For questions or more information, contact SWIC Admissions at 618-235-2700, ext. 5200.

SWIC releases fall 2020 dean’s list

The following is a list of full- and part-time students on the Southwestern Illinois College Dean’s List for the Fall 2020 Semester.

This list includes full-time students who completed 12 or more semester credits during the semester and part-time students who completed six or more semester credits during the semester while maintaining a 3.5 or higher grade point average.

The students’ names are listed alphabetically according to hometown:
SWIC Fall 2020 Dean’s List

For more information, contact SWIC Enrollment Services at 618-235-2700, ext. 5455 or 866-942-SWIC (7942), ext. 5455.

SWIC Running Start alum gets a jump-start on his career

Maryville native Jackson Smith always knew he wanted to pursue engineering as a career. Smith’s ambition and passion for engineering is what helped him achieve a high school diploma and two associate degrees, at the same time, by being a part of the Southwestern Illinois College Running Start program.

He graduated from Triad High School, earned an Associate in Science and Associate in Arts from SWIC in 2019 and is now pursuing a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering with a minor in mathematics from the University of Evansville.  

The Running Start program allows highly qualified high school juniors and seniors to earn a high school diploma from their local high school or homeschool, while simultaneously earning a transfer degree from SWIC.

Jackson Smith
SWIC Running Start program graduate, Jackson Smith of Maryville.

“I chose to be a part of the SWIC Running Start program because I knew it would make me stand-out from other individuals and give me an advantage over other students trying to enter the competitive field of engineering,” said Smith. “SWIC laid the foundation for my diverse skill-set in physics, chemistry and math; having learned these tools early on in my career gives me an edge and will enable me to excel further in my career.”

He believes that if you do good work and have a passion to keep growing and learning, you can have a real impact in your field and possibly the world. Smith feels that engineering helps people to understand mathematics and principles behind ideas as simple as linear spring motion and as complex as thermo-fluid dynamics.

He is currently a mechanical engineering student at the University of Evansville in Indiana, a teacher’s assistant for the Engineering Department, a campus dorm lead resident assistant and will soon be starting an internship at BWX Technologies, Inc.
Smith is a member of the National Mechanical Engineering Honors Society, Pi Tau Sigma, as well as a member of the National Engineering Honors Society, Tau Beta Pi. He has also been conducting research on thermosiphons and solar powered water heaters for use in third world countries.

In his free time, he enjoys playing video games, ultimate frisbee, card games, sand volleyball and watching rocket launches and static fire testing.

In the future, Smith hopes to be able to place his “engineering fingerprints” on as many unique places as possible such as the depths of the ocean, top of mountains or even in space.

“Knowing I helped design and create something that is on another planet or orbiting the Earth would be a crowning achievement,” Smith said.

For more information on the SWIC Running Start program, visit

SWIC releases fall 2020 grad list

The following is a list of Southwestern Illinois College students who graduated at the conclusion of the fall 2020 semester. The students’ names are listed alphabetically according to hometown.

The list also denotes students who graduated with honors (a 3.5 grade point average or higher) and with a perfect 4.0 GPA.

SWIC Fall 2020 Graduate List   

For more information, contact SWIC Enrollment Services at 618-235-2700, ext. 5455 or 866-942-SWIC (7942), ext. 5455.


Local high school students had the chance to show off their creative abilities through poetry through the 2020-2021 Poetry Out Loud competition, hosted by Southwestern Illinois College Feb. 11.

Each contestant submitted recited works they selected from an anthology of more than 1,100 poems. Judges evaluated student performances on criteria including voice and articulation, evidence of understanding and accuracy.

Seven area high schools participated including Collinsville High School, East St. Louis Senior High School, Edwardsville High School, Freeburg Community High School, Governor French Academy, Mascoutah High School and Wyvetter Younge Alternative Center.

Winning artists for the contest include:                       

Edwardsville High School

Champion Winner: Jordyn Ginestra for reciting“The Wish, By a Young Lady” by Laetitia Pilkington and “My Partner Wants Me to Write Them a Poem About Sheryl Crow” by Kayleb Rae Candrilli.

Freeburg High School

Runner-Up: Joshua Merz for reciting“Altered After Too Many Years Under the Mask” by C.A. Conrad and “Hunger for Something” by Chase Twichell.

Ginestra and Merz will advance to the Poetry Out Loud state competition in March 2021, along with two finalists from each of the other seven Illinois regional contests.

The school of the state champion will receive $500 for the purchase of poetry materials. The first runner-up in each state will receive $100, with $200 for his or her school library. The Poetry Foundation provides and administers all aspects of the monetary prizes awarded.

Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students across the country. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Poetry Out Loud is a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, Illinois Arts Council Agency and SWIC.

To view all the poetry submission or for more information visit or contact Amy Brockman at 618-235-2700, ext. 5324.

SWIC welcomes Dr. Ashley Becker as the new Dean of Business, Health Sciences and Homeland Security

Ashley Becker, Ph.D., has been named the new dean of Business, Health Sciences and Homeland Security programs at Southwestern Illinois College.

Becker brings 19 years of experience in higher education and has held previous leadership roles including Vice President of Instructional Services at Kaskaskia College, Senior Director of Academic Affairs for the Illinois Community College Board and College Director of ITT Technical Institute in Little Rock, just to name a few.

Becker is excited about working with SWIC students, faculty and staff. She enjoys and appreciates the mix of responsibilities and challenges that accompany her new role.

SWIC Business, Health Sciences and Homeland Security Dean
SWIC Business, Health Sciences and Homeland Security Dean Ashley Becker, Ph.D.

 “I love being a servant leader, someone who rallies their faculty and staff together to achieve the college’s mission,” Becker said. “It’s about impact, influence, inspiration and selflessness; I am truly blessed to be a part of this amazing institution.”

In her free time, Becker enjoys watching her kids participate in activities such as tumbling, soccer, track, wrestling, basketball, dance, volleyball and spending time with family.

She earned her Bachelor of Arts from University of Great Falls in Montana and both her Master of Business Administration and Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration at the University of Phoenix. Becker is also involved with the CAEL Military Advisory Board and the Illinois Articulation Initiative.

Becker and her husband, Ian, live in Trenton and have three children, Kanyon, Grayson and Addison. For more information about SWIC, visit

Chantay White-Williams and Belle Hamm earn SWIC Faculty Member of the Year Awards

A passion for teaching, expertise in their subject matter and drive to help their students succeed are what made Chantay White-Williams and Belle Hamm the obvious choices for the Southwestern Illinois College full- and part-time Faculty Members of the Year Awards, respectively.

White-Williams is a full-time SWIC Associate Professor of English whose academic career has spanned more than 16 years. She embraces the culture of all students and uses creative and diverse material when teaching English and literature courses. White-Williams is a champion for underrepresented students. She developed and launched a course on African-American literature, has advocated to offer minority students more student-centered programming and also rallied to acquire special seating and software updates in computer classrooms for students needing accommodations.

She served as the English and Film Department Chair from 2012-2016; 
served as the Two-Year College English Association 2016 Midwest Conference chairperson; helped establish the Committee on Race and Ethnicity; hosted and assisted in the planning of the English Department’s conference on their Accelerated Learning Program; previously worked as the Computer-Assisted Instruction Coordinator in charge of the computer labs in the Liberal Arts Building; and received the English and Film Department Wonder Women Award while serving as the department chair.

Southwestern Illinois College Associate Professor of English Chantay White-Williams, left, of St. Louis instructs Anastasia Ottinger of Shiloh during her English class. White-Williams was named Full-time Faculty Member of the Year for 2020 by the college Board of Trustees.

SWIC Associate Professor of English Chantay White-Williams, left, instructs Anastasia Ottinger during her English class. White-Williams was named Full-time Faculty Member of the Year for 2020 by the college Board of Trustees.

“SWIC has a great many faculty who serve our students and our larger community in an exemplary fashion; however, White-Williams does it in a way that is consistent, year after year, with a thoughtful approach,” said SWIC English and Film Department Chair Steve Moiles. “The college is fortunate to have her in our ranks.”

When she isn’t teaching, White-Williams enjoys reading, volunteering with the Madison County Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and spending time with her family. She also loves all things Star Trek.

She earned her Bachelor and Master of Arts from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and is a member of the National Association of Developmental Education, National Council of Teachers of English and International Literacy Association and the Alpha Kappa Sorority-Upsilon Phi Omega chapter.

White-Williams currently lives in St. Louis City and has three sons, Marquis, Jonathan, and Jalyn; and two grandchildren, Jonathan, Jr. and Brooklynn.

Hamm is a part-time Adult Education Instructor who has been with SWIC since 2014. She is always eager to help students realize their potential. Hamm makes it a priority to establish a safe, non-judgmental environment within the classroom which helps nurture learning and self-esteem. She also takes into consideration the mental health and special needs of her students.

Hamm goes above and beyond to help her students succeed. Her extra measures include: individualized instruction, special testing accommodations, finding third-party financial resources, scheduling advocates to assist students in their daily living and medical needs, plus being available outside of classroom hours to meet with learners

Hamm has served as a High School Equivalency instructor at the SWIC Red Bud Campus, has become a certified Standard Proficient instructor by the Illinois Community College Board, trained new instructional personnel, established quality services within the Randolph County area and has become well-known as a community leader and resource for her students and community. It is Hamm’s personal mission to serve others and has proven she truly is making a difference in her students’ lives.

SWIC Adult Education Adjunct Instructor Belle Hamm
SWIC Adult Education Adjunct Instructor Belle Hamm was named Part-time Faculty Member of the Year for 2020 by the college Board of Trustees.

“My teaching philosophy is to show students the potential I see in them, even if they don’t see it in themselves and to give them a reason to be proud of themselves,” said Hamm. “I always strive to look for a reason to tell a student I am proud of them because many of our students have never had someone to express pride in them. As a result, I have been able to establish a safe classroom environment and a good rapport with students because they know I truly care about what happens to them in and out of the classroom.”

In her free time, Hamm enjoys volunteering at nursing homes, crafting, crocheting and spending time with her two Yorkies, Ollie and Sophie.

She earned a Bachelor of Science from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is Middle School Certified in Language Arts K-9 and Mathematics K-9 and has her Standard Proficient Math Certification.

Hamm and her husband, Kelly, live in Sparta. They have two children, Grace and Luke.

White-Williams and Hamm were also nominated by the college for the Illinois Community College Trustee Association’s Outstanding Full-time and Part-time Faculty Member of the Year honors.

For more information about SWIC visit

Tips to help SWIC students succeed at online learning

Many students within the past year have had to transition to online learning. Whether you are new to learning from home or just want to be sure you succeed at it, Southwestern Illinois College has compiled the following best practices to assist students in their online learning journey.

General Tips:

  • Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day.
  • Create a weekly schedule, with exact times to focus on each class.
  • Minimize distractions.
  • Tell family and friends when you are not available.
  • Work on one class for 30-45 minutes; then take a 10-15 minute break.
  • Submit all assignments on time.

Technology Tips:

  • Have consistent access to high-speed internet.
  • Have access to a computer. Not every assignment and activity will likely be able to be completed on a mobile device.
  • Check your SWIC email first thing in the morning and often.
  • Explore Blackboard and become familiar with its features and tools.
  • Additional software may be needed such as Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.
    Be sure to download and test them before assignments are due.
  • Try different browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Edge or Safari, if certain apps, programs, or files are not working properly.
  • Always save your work.
  • Contact your instructor with any questions you may have.

For information on online tutoring, visit; for technology support, visit; or to search for online courses offered at SWIC, visit