Every year CAST recognizes some of its most successful younger alumni.
1997 BS, Department of Agriculture
Curtis Eugene Oldfield is a 1997 graduate of Illinois State University and was awarded his Bachelor of Science in agriculture education. Prior to attending Illinois State, Oldfield graduated from Spoon River College in Canton, with his associate's degree in science. While at Illinois State, Oldfield was involved in Collegiate FFA and was a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. After graduating, Oldfield went on to teach at Roseville High School in Roseville, where he reopened an agriculture program. After two years in Roseville, Oldfield was hired to teach in the agriculture program at Spoon River College and he also completed his master's degree in agriculture education. In 2001, he became the dean of instruction for Spoon River College. Oldfield went on to become the vice president of Academic Affairs for Northeast Iowa Community College in 2006. In July 2012, he was selected to be the eighth president of Spoon River College. He and his wife, Pattie, live in Canton, with their daughter, Lauren, and son, Nick. Oldfield is completing his Ph.D. at Iowa State University, where he is studying the role of the community college in filling the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) pipeline.
2001 BS, Department of Criminal Justice Sciences
Andrew Verdun graduated from Illinois State University's Department of Criminal Justice Sciences in 2001. After completing his internship with the U.S. Customs Service in Miami, he extended his enlistment in the Illinois Army National Guard for one year in order to deploy to Europe in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Upon returning from Europe, Verdun served as a special agent with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Seattle. From 2003–2006 Verdun conducted criminal investigations in the Seattle area and also taught criminal justice courses at ITT Technical Institute.
In 2006, Verdun was offered an opportunity to support U.S. military counterintelligence operations in Iraq. He spent nine months supporting the U.S. Marines on Al Taqaddum Air Base, Iraq, by conducting screening operations on all local and third country nationals in order to identify and eliminate threats to U.S. and Coalition forces. In 2007, he was sent to Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq, for 16 months to supervise a 13-person team supporting the U.S. Army. Verdun's team screened the 2nd and 4th Iraqi Army divisions and was able to successfully identify and remove Iraqi soldiers working for different insurgent groups.
In March 2009, he was offered a job supporting U.S. Army counterintelligence on Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo. Verdun was responsible for screening all local and third country nationals on Camp Bondsteel in order to identify threats to U.S. and NATO forces. While working in Kosovo, he completed his master's degree in strategic intelligence and terrorism studies from American Military University, graduating in June 2012.
In March 2012, he was offered a team leader position supporting the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) counterintelligence operations on Al Dhafra Air Base, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. He supervised a five-person team screening all local and third country nationals on Al Dhafra attempting to identify threats to U.S. and Emirati forces. Verdun departed the United Arab Emirates in April 2013 and will return to Camp Bondsteel as the team leader at the end of June 2013.
1992 BS, Department of Family and Consumer Sciences
Kimberly Smoot graduated from Illinois State University in 1992. Her degree in family and consumer sciences has taken her in many directions. Following graduation she taught in Girard. After the birth of her daughter, Emily, in 1998 she took on the full-time job of stay-at-home mom. It was during this time that Smoot discovered her love of photography and talent in the field. Her first paying client turned into 10, and 10 turned into hundreds. That was more than 10 years ago.
Smoot turned her love of photography and specifically portrait photography into a full-time business by the time her daughter was ready for kindergarten. Over the years she has been voted Best Photographer and Best Female Photographer in Springfield. She has been featured in a story in the State Journal-Register. Smoot has done work for University of Illinois Springfield, Prairie Farms, the Springfield Sliders, The Hope Institute, radio station WDBR, and hundreds of families from Chicago and Central Illinois. She has also produced images for many charity organizations like the Children's Miracle Network, American Heart Association, and American Cancer Society.
Smoot's love of people and especially children, along with her interpersonal skills, allows her to photograph subjects in a relaxed, respectful, and engaging manner. Those skills were first developed as a family and consumer sciences major at Illinois State University.
She continues to photograph children and families as well as corporate clients. She enjoys the craziness of being a small-business owner and is thankful to Family and Consumer Sciences for giving her the background to realize her dreams.
2001 BS, Department of Health Sciences
Jedediah L. Cantrell attended Illinois State University, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in health information management in 2001. She graduated from Bradley University in 2005 with an executive M.B.A. and from the clinical laboratory technician program at Illinois Central College in 1997.
Upon graduating from Illinois State University, Cantrell worked for Addus HealthCare as director of medical records. Later, she worked for Graham Health System in Canton, as director of health information management and was promoted to vice president of ancillary services and corporate compliance officer in 2005. As vice president, her responsibilities included health information management, laboratory science, radiology, cardiac rehab and wellness, physical rehab, six sigma, food and nutritional services, respiratory and sleep services, case management, social services, and corporate compliance.
Cantrell is the vice president of operations with SwedishAmerican Health System in Rockford, where she is responsible for hospital internal operations and clinical services throughout the health system and oversight of the SwedishAmerican Medical Center in Belvidere.
Cantrell has a passion for giving back to both her profession and community. She is a member of the American Health Information Management Association, American College of Healthcare Executives, and Healthcare Corporate Compliance Association. She has served on the Illinois State University Health Information Management Advisory Council since 2004.
She has developed educational programs in Central Illinois for health care executives that target current issues and the future of health care. She has faciliated affiliations with colleges and universities to support students through clinical and professional practices and internships. Cantrell actively mentors students and young professionals as they plan their educational and career paths. She volunteers her time by serving civic organizations that support families and communities such as the YWCA, United Way, Salvation Army, Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, and Sigma Gamma Rho sorority.
1995 BS, School of Information Technology
Paul Haisman has a degree in computer science from Illinois State University and will complete his M.B.A. from Hodges University in August 2013. He is the senior director of information technology for the YMCA of the USA in Chicago. The YMCA of the USA is the national resource office for more than 900 YMCA associations and 2,700 branch locations serving more than 10,000 communities throughout the U.S. Prior to joining YMCA in May 2010, he spent more than 16 years working in the for-profit business sector in various technology roles. His professional experience ranges from working for large enterprise organizations such as General Electric to leading a startup technology company. His entrepreneurial nature has helped him to develop skills as a technology strategist, motivator, and leader. Early in his career, Haisman partnered to develop one of the first online daily independent university research news sources, which later spawned the creation of an award-winning vaccine and immunology site. In 1997, the site was featured in International Data Group's (IDG) The Web Magazine and received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Children's Vaccine Institute to continue this work over the next several years.
Haisman has a passion for technology and a wide range of management experience dealing with acquisitions and mergers, enterprise operations, information management, and solutions architecture and design.
As part of the Y-USA Leadership Group, Haisman is responsible for aligning technology solutions with organizational strategy. Recent successes include the delivery of a national extranet knowledge management solution and single sign on architecture for more than 26,000 YMCA staff members. He is currently leading the development of a custom learning management and trainer/student registration system reaching more than 200,000 staff and volunteers. It is scheduled to launch in June 2013.
1994 BS, School of Kinesiology and Recreation
Allan Van Every, graduated from Illinois State University's School of Kinesiology and Recreation in 1994. He received the Athletic Training Distinguished Senior Award and was a finalist for the Illinois State University Physical Education Major of the Year Award. After a successful completion of the athletic training boards, he interned with the Chicago Bears football team for minicamps and training camp, and was invited to return for some regular season home games. In 1994 Van Every accepted a position with Athletico Physical Therapy Centers in Chicago. He was the head athletic trainer for the Latin School of Chicago and the Chicago Griffins Rugby Club. In 1995 Van Every was promoted to the manager of athletic training services, and oversaw athletic training services for all city affiliations including colleges, high schools, rugby clubs, and the Chicago sport and social clubs. From 1998–2003 he altered his career trajectory and accepted a facility management position at Athletico's LaGrange Park facility. In 2003 Allan helped develop a regional management position for Athletico, and now oversees nine Athletico physical therapy facilities in the west and south suburbs of Chicago. In addition to being a regional manager for Athletico, Van Every has provided athletic training coverage to CART open-wheel motor racing, and the Professional Bull Riders rodeo in the Chicago and Rockford areas. He lives in the northern suburbs of Chicago with his wife, Michelle (Bauer) '94, and their three children, Leo, Ian, and Ava. The Van Everys are avid sports fans and follow all of the Chicago sports teams.
1996 BS, Department of Technology
Russ Pande graduated from the Illinois State University Department of Technology in 1996, where he studied construction management and manufacturing management. After graduating he worked for Matocha Associates as a construction manager from 1996–2000, focusing on medical, commercial, land development, and high-end residential areas. From 2000–2006, Pande worked as a project manager for Pepper Construction Co., which has been consistently ranked in the top 50 general contractors in the U.S. for revenue annually. Pande was involved in projects varying in value from $5 million to $72 million, including retail, shopping mall developments, commercial, and land developments.
Since 2006, Pande has served as an operations manager with Weis Builders, ranked in the top 100 general contractors in the U.S. for revenue annually. His projects have ranged from retail, land development, hospitality, mixed use residential, theaters, condominiums, senior living, apartments, and student housing. Pande even had the opportunity to lend his skills to Illinois State University, having worked on the Cardinal Court project from initial award through construction and closeout as operations manager.
Pande has been an active member of the International Council of Shopping Centers Next Generation Committee for Chicago since 2006, and is also a member of the The Associated General Contractors of America. He has served on the Department of Technology's Construction Management Advisory Board since 2012. He lives with his wife, Stephanie, and children, Alexandra and Julian.
CAST is always looking for its next Academy of Achievement honorees. If you know of anyone, or would like to nominate yourself for this distinguished honor, please fill out the CAST Academy of Achievement Application.