The Commencement Stage at Graduation

Where Our Graduates Are Headed

by Stephanie (Coartney) Dulaney '10


Greg Ortiz ‘18

Photo of Greg Ortiz ‘18


  • Computer science major from Granite City, Illinois

  • Internship at Enterprise Holdings, Inc.

  • President of Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)

  • President of Upsilon Pi Epsilon Computing Honor Society

  • Vice President of Alpha Delta Gamma fraternity

  • Member of Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Eta Sigma, Sigma Zeta, and Upsilon Pi Epsilon Honor Societies

  • Named to the President’s List

  • McKendree Computing Division Computer Lab Developer and Administrator

  • Named “Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges”

From his leadership roles at McKendree to his internship with a national corporation, computer science major Greg Ortiz ’18 knows that it’s not just our talents that determine where we end up in life, but also the opportunities that help us get there.

As a student, Greg’s passion for computing led him to become involved in McKendree’s chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), as well as assume an administrator job in the division’s computer lab. He also took an active role in the campus’ Alpha Delta Gamma fraternity, all while consistently excelling in his coursework. “Being in a leadership position can be challenging, but it helped me to manage and run events and set goals to accomplish,” he said. “Being a part of these organizations, I learned how to be responsible for them, which helped me build essential teamwork skills for my internship and future career.”

Greg first learned of an internship opportunity at Enterprise Holdings, Inc. through one of his professors. To express interest in it, he reached out to an Enterprise software engineer, who was also a McKendree alum, and soon found himself part of the Service Management Team. The internship gave him experience streamlining technology processes in a corporate setting, as well as working with a team of mostly off-site employees to accomplish tasks. Most importantly, it gave him the chance to demonstrate his talent as a potential future Enterprise employee.

“One of our big responsibilities on the Service Management Team was the flow of work-related tickets,” Greg said. “If a group needed to request a new piece of software that currently had no ticket form, it had to be developed and implemented by my team. Wait time for this development could take as long as two to four months! My project was to create a tool that allowed those individuals with new ticket requests to create a prototype form that my team could easily develop further. It’s estimated that the wait time is now between two weeks to a month!”

Through his hard work and excellent communication skills with his off-site team, Greg was given glowing reviews, along with an offer to join Enterprise Holdings full-time upon graduation. He will start his position as a software engineer on the Service Management Team this summer.

“Being involved with multiple student organizations greatly prepared me for my future outside of McKendree,” he said.


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“I am also grateful for having exceptional professors within the Computing Division that allowed me to build the essential problem-solving skills needed for my career. I’m going to miss having conversations with my friends and professors; however, they helped me greatly with my future.”



Lucendia Adams ‘18

Photo of Lucendia Adams ‘18


  • Pre-professional biology major from Dahlgren, Illinois

  • Internship at Hamilton Memorial Hospital in McLeansboro, Illinois

  • President of Sigma Zeta National Math and Science Honor Society

  • President of Rotaract

  • Earned Sigma Zeta Student Research Grant and McKendree Student Engagement Grant

  • Honors Program

  • Named to President’s List and Dean’s List

  • Named “Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges”

  • Recipient of McKendree Leadership Award

  • Member of Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Eta Sigma Honor Societies

  • Student athlete on the softball team

  • Named to the Academic All-Conference GLVC Team

Ask any group of children what they want to be when they grow up and you’re guaranteed to get at least one answer of “doctor.” While many discover new interests and change their minds over time, pre-professional biology major Lucendia Adams ’18 is taking the next step to earn her medical doctorate and fulfill a dream she’s had all along.

“My mom tells a story of when I was four years old and handed surgical instruments to my family doctor while I sat on my mom's lap as he removed embedded glass from her finger,” Adams said. “Ever since then, my mind has always been set on medicine. I think what has drawn me to the field is the ability to make a difference in someone’s life every single day by potentially saving it. I love the continually changing field and the challenge it brings to a lifelong learner.”

At McKendree, Lucendia found a place where she could form a strong foundation for the academic growth and community involvement that she plans to continue in medical school and beyond. An Honors student, softball athlete, and leader of such groups as Rotaract and Sigma Zeta Honor Society, she used every opportunity to expand her talents and share her passion with the campus community.

One experience that inspired her the most was a hands-on internship she landed at Hamilton Memorial Hospital near her home-town in rural Illinois. Logging 140 hours, with 16 of those inside the operating room, Lucendia accompanied six different physicians on their rounds and participated in the discussions of care plans for each patient. Afterwards, she knew her calling was not only to provide medical care to people in need, but to serve the people of the rural areas she had always called home.

“One of my most memorable moments was watching the placement of a gastric pacemaker, which is a fairly revolutionary procedure and uncommon to be performed in rural areas like my local hospital,” she said. “I definitely gained insight on how under-served rural communities are by healthcare professionals and how great the need is for physicians in these communities.”

Lucendia’s discovery led her to join the University of Illinois College of Medicine’s unique Rural Medicine Education Program. In addition to the regular curriculum, she will take classes specifically designed to help her serve the rural areas most in need. She’s excited about the chance to participate in research alongside faculty and travel to Haiti as part of a two-week global health rotation.

Looking back, Lucendia says she knows McKendree was the right place to get started on her journey.

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“There were so many people who made a positive impact on my life, and I think the biggest lesson from my time here was realizing it’s not always about having to be the best at everything, but knowing where your niche is in life and embracing it for the greater good.”



Shaquille Armstrong ‘18

Photo of Shaquille Armstrong ‘18


  • Criminal justice major and leadership studies minor from East St. Louis, Illinois

  • Named a 2016 Newman Civic Fellow

  • Received the 2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award

  • Coordinator at the Lyn Huxford Center for Community Service

  • Community Coordinator for Barnett Hall

  • President of the Black Student Organization

  • Ambassador for the Social Justice and Equity Committee

  • Student worker for the Office of Student Affairs

  • New Student Orientation Leader and Peer Mentor

It takes big aspirations to achieve big results, and criminal justice major Shaquille Armstrong ’18 is just getting started. As a McKendree student, he was an active voice for social justice and diversity issues on campus and received national recognition for his efforts to create meaningful dialogue and change in the community. Now a Saint Louis University Law School student, he will be the first in his family to attend law school and fulfill his dream of being a public defendant for area youth.

Shaquille found his perfect fit at McKendree and knew he had to find a similar place to call home for graduate school. “McKendree is a place I hold dear to my heart, so continuing my education at another university, I searched for a place that reminded me of it,” he said. “SLU Law School is a small, friendly campus surrounded with numerous opportunities and chances for growth.”

That same atmosphere of opportunity is what first attracted Shaquille to McKendree and got him started in his mission to make a difference for those around him. Through the Center for Community Service, he led a wide range of events and activities designed to expand students’ perceptions of one another. His role as an ambassador on the university’s first-ever Social Justice and Equity Committee also opened the door for greater understanding among people of different backgrounds. As a result of his efforts, he was honored as one of only 218 students in the country to be named a Newman Civic Fellow for 2016.

Shaquille knew from the beginning he wanted to pursue a career in law, but his experiences have given him more clarity on where his focus will be. “My area of law will be in Juvenile Restorative Justice,” he said. “I have a passion for working with youth, and I believe the children are our future. I want to change the laws that are in place for youth that commit crimes so the primary focus is not to strictly punish, but correct their behavior.”

In addition to practicing law in juvenile court, Shaquille has the goal of one day founding a non-profit to help ex-convicts find housing and employment. As he looks forward to seeing his plans come to life, he can’t help but reflect on the many people at McKendree who have encouraged him to stay true to his visions.

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“I will remember the close relationships I’ve made with faculty, staff, and students, and will take those relationships with me.”




Himani Patel ‘18

Photo of Himani Patel ‘18


  • Chemistry major and biochemistry minor from Eldoret, Kenya

  • 2017 Student Lincoln Laureate

  • President of Phi Eta Sigma

  • Member of Sigma Zeta Math and Science Honor Society and Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity

  • Engaging Issues and Diversity Coordinator for the Campus Activities Board

  • Resident Assistant

  • Chemistry Lab Assistant and Peer Tutor

  • UNI 101 Peer Mentor

  • Student Ambassador and New Student Orientation Leader

  • Named to the President’s List

Ever dreamed of being the one to discover the next medical breakthrough or cure a disease? Chemistry major Himani Patel ’18 has done more than just dream about it; she’s well on her way to becoming a research scientist, and her next step is the University of Notre Dame’s doctoral program in chemistry.

Himani knew she loved science, but didn’t always know she would end up going into a career in chemistry. “For the longest time, I wasn't able to figure out what specific field of science I want to pursue in college,” she said.

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“Chemistry actually brings both physics and biology together, and just getting at the nitty-gritty and explaining everything at the molecular level makes much more sense to me.”

It became even more personal to her when a relative became sick and chose to use only herbal medicine as treatment. Patel knew little research existed on the effectiveness of natural products in treating disease and was inspired to research it in-depth for her senior project. As a result, she grew even more passionate about the field and plans to continue her research in drug discovery and natural product chemistry in graduate school.

Himani’s enthusiasm for her work in class, however, was only one aspect of her McKendree experience. Her leadership and involvement in residence life, peer tutoring, campus diversity activities, honor societies, and service organizations paved the way for her to receive the State of Illinois’ highest student honor, the Student Lincoln Laureate Award. For Himani, these experiences outside the classroom were just as important as those inside because they helped her become the well-rounded individual she is today. “I’m better able to define what I’m interested in in terms of academic life and also social justice issues,” she said.

Moreover, they served as a stepping stone for the next stage of her journey at the University of Notre Dame. In the PhD program in chemistry, Himani will have access to high-quality instrumentation facilities and professors with a passion for medical research. “I’m most excited to learn the new research techniques in chemistry specifically for the purpose of drug discovery,” she said.

With these tools, she plans to continue researching in the private sector and possibly even teach chemistry to the next generation of students. “I have loved tutoring chemistry at McKendree,” she said. “It has challenged me to be a better science communicator. However, all challenges are worth the ‘light bulb moment’ when the student finally grasps a chemical concept.” Whether Himani discovers that medical breakthrough or helps a future student do so, she knows she’ll be making a difference in her field.



Lewis Brown ‘18

Photo of Lewis Brown ‘18


  • Sport management and marketing major from Warrensburg, Illinois

  • Student athlete on the men’s golf team

  • Member of the Sport Management Society

  • Named to the President’s List and Dean’s List

  • Guest Service Intern with the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri

  • Ticket Sales Intern with the Aspire Group in Boca Raton, Florida

After two one-of-a-kind internships and countless McKendree memories, sport management and marketing major Lewis Brown ’18 is ready to begin an exciting career as a ticket sales representative for the San Antonio Spurs.

It all started with an application for an internship at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. Thanks to his high academics, involvement with McKendree sports, and enthusiasm for the sport and event industry, Lewis soon found himself engaging with customers on a wide range of levels at one of St. Louis’ premiere venues.

“As a guest service intern at the Scottrade Center, I had the opportunity to develop my customer service skills during a lot of different events,” he said. “These included everything from Blues games to concerts, to even the Professional Bull Riders when they were in town. It gave me the chance to help other staff with pre-event and post-event work, assist my managers with any guest issues, and help guests navigate their way around the facility.”

Lewis’ experience working a host of events at such a major facility as Scottrade helped set him up for his second internship with the Aspire Group. This organization provides consulting and ticketing services to sport and entertainment facilities throughout the country. For Lewis, it meant traveling to Florida Atlantic University’s Fan Relationship Management Center to work in collegiate ticket sales. His role as a ticket sales intern put him in the driver’s seat assisting ticket sales consultants, managing the center’s social media accounts, and interacting directly with fans and members of the community.

With so many hours of on-the-job experience even before graduation, Lewis set himself ahead of the competition when applying for full-time positions. He traveled all the way to Cleveland, Ohio, to interview at the Mount Union Sport Sales Workshop and, as a result, landed a career with an NBA team. “As a member of the inside sales team with the San Antonio Spurs, I will be selling premium and group tickets to individuals and businesses in the San Antonio area,” he said. “I’m most looking forward to the people I will encounter. Working in sports gives you a huge opportunity to expand your network.”

Lewis hopes to eventually become a vice president for ticket sales. As he moves forward from his time at McKendree, he knows that the lessons he’s learned helped grow that ambitious drive he has today. He advises the next class of Bearcats to:

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“Always be looking to meet new people because you never know who that is standing across the room. They could be the person who helps you get to the next step in your life.”



Kara Schnoeker ‘18

Photo of Kara Schnoeker '18


  • Secondary education major from Coulterville, Illinois

  • Student athlete on the women’s golf team

  • Earned Academic All-GLVC Honors

  • Named to President’s List and Dean’s List

  • Member of Sigma Zeta and Chi Mu Honor Societies

  • Represented McKendree at the American Model United Nations Conference in Chicago, Illinois in 2016

  • Vice President of the Chi Mu Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education

When secondary education major Kara Schnoeker ’18 graduated from Okawville High School four years ago, she never imagined she would one day return to those same halls as a math teacher. Thanks to her McKendree experience and her love for education, she will begin her teaching career in the high school that helped fuel her dream of becoming an educator.

“There are many reasons that I chose education, but I have wanted to be a teacher since I can remember,” Kara said. “My parents are both teachers, and I’ve known since I was a little kid that that was what I wanted to do.” For her, McKendree seemed the obvious university to attend due to the excellent reputation of the education program. In addition to great academic opportunities, she also excelled in the women’s golf team, Show Choir, and Model UN. A member of both Chi Mu education honor society and Sigma Zeta math and science honor society, she took on a leadership role as vice president for Kappa Delta Pi, the international honor society in education.

One of the most important components, however, for building a strong foundation as an educator was Kara’s student teaching experience. Working with the students of Belleville East High School, she instilled her passion for math throughout her lessons, while also developing her skills in classroom management and discipline. “It’s really difficult to learn about something like teaching without actually doing it,” she said. “The classes at McKendree prepared me for student teaching, which has prepared me for when I have my own classroom.”

Kara says she is looking forward to beginning her career and having a classroom that’s all her own. Teaching at a small school, such as Okawville High, gives her the opportunity to teach a wider variety of classes and get to know her students on a more individual basis. While a greater range of classes means more prep time and more upper level courses to teach, she is up for the challenge.

Kara plans to take with her not only what she learned in her education courses, but also the sense of close-knit community that McKendree gave her. She knows those fun memories with her professors and fellow students will carry over into her relationships with her own students.

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“I owe a lot of my success to everything that McKendree has taught me, and I have learned so many lessons that I will be able to take with me and use later in my career.”




Other Interesting Class of 2018 Career Destinations

Cheyenne Autry '18 will pursue a graduate degree in sport management and a law degree from the University of Alabama.

Jessica Baldus '18 will pursue a master’s degree in occupational therapy at Maryville University in St. Louis, Mo.

Alex Baldwin '18 will pursue a law degree at Saint Louis University School of Law in St. Louis, Mo.

Elexis Baltimore '18 is a technical writer/human resource associate at Progressive Recovery, Inc. in Dupo, Ill.

Erika Brown '18 will pursue a master's degree in religious studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

Kennedy Capps '18 is a health program coordinator at the YMCA in Portland, Ore.

Matthew Caraway '18 is a staff accountant at Scheffel Boyle CPA.

Marquis Cherry '18 is an audit associate at Anders.

Tobias Cook '18 is playing for the Bielefeld Bulldogs in the German Football League.

Emilee Cornell '18 will work as an auditor at The Defense Contract Audit Agency.

Kaylee Darnall '18 will pursue a law degree at Saint Louis University School of Law in St. Louis, Mo.

Luke Davis '18 will teach music at Franklin Park Middle School in Salem, Ill.

Emily Doersam '18 is a trade services representative at U.S. Bank.

Shayeen Edwards '18 is playing for the Cologne Crocodiles in the German Football League.

Rachel Ford '18 is a medical records coordinator at Schlicter, Bogard & Denton.

Amanda Geiger '18 will pursue a BSN from BJC's Goldfarb School of Nursing in St. Louis, Mo.

Marissa Giuffre '18 will be a teacher in the New Berlin School District in New Berlin, Ill.

Kaitlyn Hutchison '18 will pursue a law degree at Southern Illinois University School of Law in Carbondale, Ill.

Alesha Ingram '18 will be working at Lifeline Screening of America.

Dustin Jacober '18 is an associate accountant and CliftonLarsonAllen, LLP.

Ciara Jones '18 will pursue a master’s degree in occupational therapy from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC.

Anna Joseph '18 will pursue a doctor of psychology degree in clinical psychology at Nova Southeastern in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

David Junge '18 will attend optometry school at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Rachel Kaltwasser '18 will pursue a master's degree in higher education from Bowling Green University in Bowling Green, Ind.

Samantha Kassen '18 will pursue a law degree at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, Ark.

McKenna Lalis '18 is a software test engineer at NJVC in O'Fallon, Ill.

Morgan Leckrone '18 is the psychiatric rehabilitation coordinator at Integrity Healthcare of Smithton.

Hannah McCollum '18 will pursue a master's degree in history at the University of Illinois-Springfield.

Shannon Melton '18 is a case manager at the St. Clair County Health Department.

Allison Paradies '18 is an accountant at Kerber, Eck and Braeckel, LLP.

Taylor Puuri '18 is an associate at CliftonLarsonAllen, LLP.

Bailey Rhoades '18 will pursue a master's degree in occupational therapy at the Kansas University Medical Center.

Brady Rose '18 is a software developer on the data sourcing team at U.S. Bank in St. Louis, Mo.

Teagan Schwab '18 will pursue a master's degree in higher education student affairs at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis.

Parker Seely '18 will pursue a law degree at Saint Louis University School of Law in St. Louis, Mo.

Sydney Shrader '18 will pursue a BSN from BJC's Goldfarb School of Nursing in St. Louis, Mo.

Brittni Snyder '18 is an universal banker at FCB Bank in Swansea, Ill.

Emily Thompson '18 will pursue a doctorate degree in occupational therapy at Midwestern University in Downers Grove, Ill.

Darin Winkelman '18 is an associate in the tax services group at Anders.

Harry Uyehara '18 is a human resource specialist for the US Army Corps of Engineers.


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