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Nominations being accepted for Heartland Distinguished Alumni award

January 12, 2021

The Heartland Community College Alumni Association is seeking nominations for the Distinguished Alumni award. The award recognizes notable Heartland alumni who demonstrate exceptional achievement in their profession and make a positive impact on their community. 

“The purpose of the award is to recognize alumni who are making a difference in their community,” said Foundation Executive Director Chris Downing. “We encourage co-workers, family members, friends and faculty to consider taking a few minutes to nominate a former Heartland student who deserves to be honored.” 

Last year, two notable alumni – both dedicated to helping others heal – were recognized with the award. 

Richard Casper is a veteran, artist, and entrepreneur who served in the United States Marine Corps from 2003-2007. Casper discovered artistic expression as a form of healing after a tour in Irag left him with a brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. He then co-founded CreatiVets: a non-profit that offers art, music, and writing therapy programs for combat veterans enduring physical and/or mental trauma. 

Dr. Seshanand Rao, who earned his Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) certificate from Heartland in 2004, was also distinguished. Dr. Rao completed his undergraduate studies at Illinois State University and later graduated from Rush University Medical College. He is now a physician, currently serving as Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital in Geneva, Illinois. 

Criteria for Nominations

 To be considered for the Distinguished Alumni award, candidates must meet the following requirements:

  • Have completed at least one class at Heartland Community College
  • Achieved success of an exceptional nature within their chosen field or profession
  • Made a positive impact on their community, through leadership and/or active volunteering
  • Agree to be present and accept the award during commencement Friday, May 14, 2021, in addition to reviewing application for the Illinois Community College Trustees Association (ICCTA) Distinguished Alumnus Award. 

Nomination forms are available at 

Nominations are due Friday, March 26, 2021 and can be submitted via the website, emailed to or mailed to:

Gena Glover
Associate Director of College Engagement
Heartland Community College
1500 West Raab Road
Normal, IL 61761


Written by: Steve Fast