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Alumni Spotlight

2021 DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI - Justin Rickard

The Heartland Community College Alumni Association has honored Dr. Justin Rickard as the recipient of the 2021 Distinguished Alumni award.

The award recognizes notable Heartland alumni who demonstrate exceptional achievement in their profession and make a positive impact on their community. Awardees are selected from nominations by fellow Heartland alumni, faculty, staff, students and community members.

Dr. Justin Rickard is an Associate Professor of Animal Science with a teaching and research appointment at Illinois State University. He teaches a variety of animal science and food animal industry courses. His research program focuses on improving the livestock production and food animal industries. In addition to teaching and research, he advises undergraduate and graduate students and does a variety of outreach activities with livestock producers and 4H and FFA programs.

Rickard's academic career started at Heartland Community College which prepared him to transfer to the Department of Agriculture at Illinois State University. There he earned a B.S. degree in Animal Industry Management and M.S. in Agriculture Sciences. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia where he earned a Ph.D. in Animal Science with an emphasis in Fresh Meat Science.

Rickard was nominated by Heartland Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Social Work Doug Dowell.

"We don't always know where our start will be or where our path will take us. I first met Justin when I had him in an Introduction to Sociology course. He just wanted to farm but found an unexpected fit at Heartland Community College, with caring people who made learning fun," said Dowell. "Now he is a tenured professor at Illinois State University, teaching others that learning can be fun. He is also conducting and publishing research on such topics as growth performance, meat quality, and grain production. A quick look at Justin's vitae shows he is not short on accomplishments."

Dr. Rickard will be recognized during the College's commencement ceremony to be held virtually on May 14, 2021.



It's hard to keep up with Breanne Evans. The 2019 Heartland Community College grad seems to thrive on a packed schedule.

As a full-time student in Illinois State University's graphic design program, the only ISU experience she's known is the virtual type. But that doesn't stop her from getting involved in campus life. She's currently leading a team of designers creating event graphics for ISU's University Program Board events. She will finish her Bachelor of Arts degree soon and plans to continue her education at ISU by pursuing her master's degree in creative technology.

When she's not living the college student life, Breanne is busy working at a variety of jobs. She is a student graphic design technician with the marketing department at Heartland where she uses some of the skills she learned at HCC to create promotional graphics, logos, web images and posters for various clients across campus. Breanne also puts those skills to work creating graphics for the Next Step Dance Studio and doing freelance photography and design work. If just reading all that makes you tired, consider Breanne also creates some time in her schedule to clean houses on the weekends.

Breanne thinks fondly on her time at Heartland. "Heartland taught me that I was capable of so much more than I thought. My professors lifted me up and instilled confidence in my professional abilities," she says. When prompted to list words she feels describes Heartland she offers caring, creative, and family. Adds Breanne, "I miss the people at Heartland the most. All my professors were so personable and easy to connect with."

This busy alum might not have a lot of free time, but when she finds some she enjoys spending it with her husband, two dogs and three cats, preferably outdoors. She is also currently working on a poetry book with her cousin and hopes to one day illustrate a web comic. 



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Gena Glover

Associate Director of College Engagement
Phone: 309-268-8188

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