Carl Sandburg College recognized the 2022 recipients of its Distinguished Alumnus Award and Pacesetter Award during its 54th annual Commencement exercises. Stacy Bainter ’00 received the Distinguished Alumnus Award, and Dakota Hicks ’17 received the Pacesetter Award.

Stacy Bainter (L) and Dakota Hicks (sandburg.edu)

After graduating from Sandburg’s nursing program, Bainter earned her bachelor’s in nursing from the University of Phoenix in 2007 and a master’s in nursing (nurse educator track) from McKendree University in 2015. In October 2016, she was inducted into McKendree’s chapter of Sigma Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. She became a Sandburg adjunct instructor in 2011 for the nursing program and has been a full-time instructor since 2015.

Bainter is also the coordinator of Sandburg’s basic nursing assistant program, coordinator for the practical nursing program and nurse administrator. She also served as the health occupation teacher for the Galesburg Area Vocational Center from 2011-15. In 2021, Bainter received an Excellence Award from the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD), and she was awarded Sandburg’s Faculty Member of the Year in 2020.

Prior to her teaching career, Bainter worked as a registered nurse from 2000-13 in long-term care, holding positions of floor nurse, charge nurse, supervisor, MDS coordinator, assistant director of nursing and director of nursing.

“My life has been shaped by a community college education by providing me the opportunity to begin my nursing career with obtaining my associate degree in nursing, despite the obstacles that life threw at me during the program,” Bainter said. “I was strong and determined to push through to reach my end goal, regardless of what others thought of my success due to my challenges. The end result is bringing me back to my alma mater as an instructor and paying it forward to be the advocate for my students.”

Stacy Bainter

After completing his Associate in Arts at Sandburg in 2017, Hicks transferred to Western Illinois University, where he earned his bachelor’s in finance with highest honors, including recognition as a Business and Technology Scholar. While working on his bachelor’s, Hicks was named a Finance Departmental Scholar, also enrolled in WIU’s integrated Master of Business Administration program and became a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies.

Prior to enrolling in college, Hicks spent six years in the Marines. He traveled to 14 countries, including a tour of duty in Afghanistan. During his time in the service, Hicks stepped in as a senior leader, advisor and operations manager to fulfill a position that typically requires 15-plus years’ experience.

While in high school, Hicks had no plans on attending college, but upon joining the Marines, he found that he thrived in leadership roles that posed challenges. After leaving the service, Hicks found himself avoiding public places and social gatherings as he learned to navigate the challenges many veterans face when returning from war. A first-generation college student, he worked to overcome his obstacles and went from being afraid to attend his college classes to graduating from Sandburg with a 4.0 grade point average.

Today, he is the owner of Wishtan HomeServices — a real estate management company — and Macomb Student Rentals. Hicks also is a past volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and has served as a den leader for the Boy Scouts of America.

Dakota Hicks

Carl Sandburg College Distinguished Alumnus Award Recipients

  • 2022 — Stacy Bainter
  • 2021 — Tina Veal
  • 2020 — Kiley Thomas Quinn
  • 2019 — Darci Heap
  • 2018 — Craig Willis
  • 2017 — Dr. Karmen Hopkins
  • 2016 — Robert Mason
  • 2015 — Dr. Judy Glaser
  • 2014 — Judge Thomas Keith
  • 2013 — Jim Purlee
  • 2012 — Susan Swartwout
  • 2011 — Cynthia Kitchen
  • 2010 — Cynthia Kiffer
  • 2009 — Joshua Gibb
  • 2008 — Brenda Stewart Clevidence
  • 2007 — Bonni Smith-Skripps
  • 2006 — Sandra Gavin
  • 2005 — Tara Miller
  • 2004 — Dave Burns
  • 2003 — Dr. Lori Sundberg
  • 2002 — Christine Baumgardner
  • 2001 — Lannie Cation
  • 2000 — Sharon Graham
  • 1999 — Linda Foster
  • 1998 — Victor Miller
  • 1997 — Betty Thal
  • 1996 — Rose Stockman
  • 1995 — Larry Schwartz
  • 1994 — Daniel Baker
  • 1993 — Ann Murdock
  • 1992 — Jan Lundeen
  • 1991 — No recipient
  • 1990 — Louis Gamage & Mary Louderman
  • 1989 — Janice Champion
  • 1988 — Donna Medina
  • 1987 — Gerald Strom Jr.
  • 1986 — John Delawder III
  • 1985 — Russell Orwig
  • 1984 — Daniel Bailey
  • 1983 — Jerry Latherow
  • 1982 — F. Dale Cozad
  • 1981 — Maren Kay Carlson
  • 1980 — Daniel Baker
  • 1979 — William Campbell

Carl Sandburg College Pacesetter Award Recipients

  • 2022 — Dakota Hicks
  • 2021 — Cassandra Sherwin
  • 2020 — Becca Schwieter
  • 2019 — Kassie Karssen-Schoon
  • 2018 — Krista Winters
  • 2017 — Matthew Wolford
  • 2016 — Elvith Santoyo-McNaught
  • 2015 — Travis Nesby
  • 2014 — Trevor Davies
  • 2013 — Naomi Wai
  • 2012 — Ashley Swick