Spring 2021 | Digital Edition

what's inside

Parkland College has been closely monitoring developments at our campus and within the community for indications of how life might look in the near future. Here is a look at what we’re tracking this semester and what that signals for the months ahead.

Health and Safety. The first—and most important—measure of how we are doing concerns the health and safety of our campus community. In September, the college launched the Parkland College COVID-19 Dashboard, which makes the college’s positive case data accessible to the public. Provided by the Parkland College COVID Response Team, the dashboard displays cases that have been self-reported within Parkland’s faculty, staff, and student population. Numbers reflect total cases both on and off campus.

Budget. Our Board of Trustees has approved the Fiscal Year 2021 budget, which reflected the anticipated $4.9 million deficit. Efforts are underway to reduce the deficit by $3 million by the end of the fiscal year, and we’re making progress. The impact of the pandemic has been substantial, but the college will remain in strong financial standing by anticipating challenges and making proactive adjustments as we have done in recent months.

A Message from the President

Enrollment. Prior to our fall 2020 class start, enrollment was hovering around 24 percent down from the prior fall. In the final days and weeks leading up to the semester, however, we saw a very encouraging boost: Our official 10-day report showed enrollment down just under 12 percent from last fall. Nonetheless, challenges that exist within our community are presenting themselves in our enrollment figures. For example, our minority and working adult students have been especially hard-hit. For Parkland, this means that our work around equity and access is more important than ever. The barriers that existed before the pandemic have been magnified, and we will continue to find innovative ways to make higher education accessible and support students to successful completion.

Campus Safety and Other Top Priorities

Increase your chances of finding a job in this pandemic era by asking yourself these six important questions, according to award-winning financial journalist and money expert Janet Alvarez*:

Are my resume and online professional
presence current?

Am I looking in the right places?

Do my skills need refreshing?

Where am I most competitive?

Who can help me?

Where do I envision myself in a year?

*Source: Alvarez, Janet. (July 15, 2020). How to improve your chances of finding a job in the Covid-19 economy. CNBC Markets.

Job Hunting in a Pandemic:

Career Growth Areas over
the Next Decade

Here are the 10 fastest-growing careers expected through 2029, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported. The BLS’s long-term employment projections are based on historical models and do not include impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts.

Wind turbine service techs

Nurse practitioners

Solar array installers


Occupational therapy assistants

Home health and personal care aides

Physical therapist assistants

Medical and health services managers

Physician assistants

Information security analysts

*Source: US Dept. of Labor. (Sept. 1, 2020). EMPLOYMENT PROJECTIONS—2019-2029.

Self-Prep Questions

Listed as one of the fastest-growing occupations through 2029*, the occupational therapy assistant helps people with developmental, physical, emotional and cognitive impairments improve function in daily living skills and quality of life. Parkland College’s Occupational Therapy Assistant program provides certified training that fills the need for today’s healthcare workers in this field. Program Director Michelle Roberts answers some typical questions about the program and rewarding career.

Where do OTAs work?

OTAs can work with individuals and populations across the lifespan in schools, skilled nursing facilities, hospitals, outpatient clinics, mental health facilities, and community-based facilities.

How physical is the work involved?

According to the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, occupational therapy is considered a Medium Physical Demand Level, which means occasionally lifting up to 50 pounds.

How long will training last?

The OTA program is a two-year program requiring one prerequisite,
KIN 186: Introduction to Human Movement.

Career Program Q&A:

What kind of courses would I have to take?

You'll be required to take sciences such as human anatomy I and II, sociology, and psychology as well as English I and II. OTA coursework addresses the function-dysfunction continuum, from the well population to those with severe dysfunction due to injury or disease. We'll also cover the lifespan each semester, looking at diagnoses specific to infants and children, adolescents, adults, and older adults.

Is there a lot of math involved in the curriculum?

There is not a lot of math in the program but understanding basic math principles is helpful.

What is the typical income for an OTA?

The median for the Champaign-Urbana area is about $56,000.

For more info on the Occupational Therapy Program, please visit


Occupational Therapist Assistant

Jordan Butts has always known that he wanted to work with cars, and maybe even start his own business. “I’ve always been in love with cars. My dad always expressed interest in cars and naturally, it wore off on me,” he said. “I detailed vehicles out of my parents’ garage for about five years, and I always wanted to officially start something in the future.”

The 26-year-old is the co-owner and co-founder of It’s a Wrap Automotive, LLC, a one-stop, multipurpose automotive servicing center in Champaign, where he works as a detailing manager. For his age, some might wonder how Jordan has already accomplished so much.

As a dual enrollment high school student, Jordan was able to dabble in Parkland College’s Automotive Technology program. “Parkland was an excellent starting point for me,” the Champaign native explained. “Not only because of the price point, but the instructors were very caring and helpful in regards to explaining the opportunities available to me in the automotive industry.”

Jordan’s decision to earn an AAS degree in the Automotive Technology: Motorsports program after high school proved crucial to his future business. Not only did he land an opportunity as an apprentice technician with Sullivan-Parkhill Imports shortly after graduating, but he created a network that would propel him forward.

Building His Own Legacy:

“My greatest benefit was the personal relationships I was able to establish while enrolled at Parkland,” he said. “Not only did I build a relationship with my instructors but with many classmates—two who are now my business partners!”

After receiving two associate’s degrees from Parkland (having also graduated from the Digital Media program), Jordan would go on to finish his degree at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. After graduating, he worked as a district manager for General Motors Corp., where his main focus was business. He realized he wanted to take the reins and become his own boss.

“I really enjoyed that aspect of the automotive field, but I didn’t want to work for someone else,” he said. And with the right education and experience behind him, he knew the right place to start. “Not to mention, there’s no place like home.” Today, Jordan is enthusiastic about working for himself and his friends. “Honestly, one of the most rewarding things about being a business owner is giving others the opportunity to excel,” he said. “We are blessed to have the team that we do here at It’s A Wrap.”

Jordan has a little advice for others looking to follow in his footsteps: “It is possible for anyone to start a business!” he emphasized. “Many look at it as an impossible or unrealistic task. Wrong! It just takes dedication, hard work, and a solid support system. I’m by no means a business professional; however, I have learned a lot over the last couple years running my own. Now, I’m doing what I love and I’m building my own legacy, not someone else’s.”

Jordan Butts

Parkland College is releasing and distributing its first-ever coloring book, titled "A Ssspecial Place for Coby," to District 505 youth this fall.

"A Ssspecial Place for Coby" follows the lighthearted adventure of Parkland's beloved mascot, Coby the Cobra, as he visits his good friends around Parkland College and tries to decide his own perfect place to live and work. Parents will enjoy reading Coby’s story to their children, while kids will have fun coloring in the true-to-life Parkland College environments in which Coby finds himself.

The book is available at both Champaign and Urbana public children's libraries, through Carle's Healthy Beginnings, and at Parkland's welcome desk. If your school district would like to receive courtesy copies of this coloring book, please contact

Reaching Community:

New (Free!) Coloring Book

Although you cannot visit the Staerkel Planetarium for now to gaze in wonder under the second largest star dome in Illinois, the planetarium staff has not wavered in its determination to bring the night sky just a little closer to you, even if it’s in a new format.

Sky shows. In its new virtual environment, the Planetarium has had to find ways to ensure that its shows are accessible and properly formatted for a computer screen, while still offering an immersive and natural experience. To do so, it has begun using Stellarium, an open-source software long used in Parkland astronomy classes. Stellarium can simulate the sky anywhere on Earth, as well as throughout our solar system. Staff use it for the show “Prairie Skies,” which offers a live-narrated tour of that night’s sky, exploring legends and mythology of constellations and planets and how to find them. “Prairie Skies” shows every other Friday at 7 p.m. on Zoom.

Field trips. A similar software called Digistar 6 now provides virtual field trips for area students. Show producer Waylena McCully has used her experience in customizing some of its features to reconfigure views, add monitors, set up webcams, adjust Zoom meetings, and more! To set up a virtual field trip, find the Microsoft Bookings form here.

Sharing the Sky:

Staerkel Planetarium Adapts to Pandemic Life

Lectures. The James B. Kaler Science Lecture Series is also still up and running, since it doesn’t require use of the simulated sky—but the tradeoff is lack of interaction with an audience. Luckily, planetarium staff has found a workaround. Broadcasting the lectures on Zoom allows the audience to ask questions in the chat window or use the “raise your hand” button and microphone. You can find an exciting array of upcoming Kaler shows from top-of-their-field scientists here.

Home telescopes. Fulldome shows have not been adapted for home viewing due to licensing agreements, but the Staerkel Planetarium has announced that other open-source software used for visualizing objects throughout the universe, such as OpenSpace, WorldWide Telescope, and NASA’s Eyes, are available for anyone to install on their computer to experience the magic of space.

Planetarium Director Erik Johnson said that one of the positives of moving to virtual programs has been all the great suggestions the planetarium has received for future topics they can share about and incorporate into upcoming live shows. Another big benefit, Johnson said, is the fact that the knowledge and beauty the planetarium holds is now even more accessible to everyone.

“Since all of our public virtual shows are free and available at home, we have loved sharing the sky with some new audiences who may not have been able to join us in the past,” he said.

For more information about the Staerkel Planetarium, please visit or contact the staff at or 217/351-2568.

upcoming events at Parkland College

Note: Due to Covid-19, dates, times, and events are subject to change. Many events are still happening, but are being offered virtually, like our Parkland Presents venues. To stay updated on the College's offerings, please follow us on social and visit for more information.

December 8, 5 p.m.

Early College virtual event

January 22, 1 p.m.

Health Professions Academic Showcase

February 15, 9 a.m.

Campus Visit

February 23, (time tbd)

Pathway to Illinois Open House

follow us on social for updates!