Every year CAST recognizes some of its most successful younger alumni. This year the Academy of Achievement Induction Ceremony will take place on April 11, 2019 from 9:30-10:30 am in the Hancock Stadium Club Room. There will also be a coffee hour from 8:30-9:30 am. The public is invited to attend.
2002 BS, Agriculture
Originally from Raymond, Illinois, Andrew Thoron received his associate’s degree in agriculture from Lincoln Land Community College before transferring to Illinois State University to complete his B.S., also in agriculture with an emphasis in agricultural education. He then taught high school agriculture classes at Mr. Pulaski High School and worked in a state leadership role with the Illinois State Board of Education for agricultural education where his primary responsibility was to aid agriscience teachers, administrators, and community members in developing and maintaining agricultural education programs.
Thoron furthered his education by attending the University of Florida, receiving his master’s degree in 2007 and doctorate in 2010, both studying agricultural education and communication. Currently, he is an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication at UF.
While on faculty at the University of Florida, Thoron has been an author or co-author of over 30 refereed research publications, over 95 conference presentations, and has secured over 2.5 million dollars in grant funded projects. Further, Thoron has been named author of the year in the Journal of Agricultural Education four times and been named a runner-up once. He has been awarded for his teaching and advising of undergraduate students both at the University of Florida and internationally and was recognized by Lincoln Land Community College as an Honored Alumnus (2016). Thoron also served as superintendent of the Agriscience Fair for the National FFA Organization and has been recognized by teaching organizations for his cooperation and received his honorary State and American FFA degrees.
2000 BS, Criminal Justice Sciences
Sami Anderson’s legal career began in 2000 when she began an internship with a local Champaign attorney while working towards her Bachelor's degree in criminal justice. During her second year of law school at Thomas M. Cooley School of Law in Michigan, she was notified that her husband had been severely wounded during his military service in Iraq and that his injuries would require him to stay at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for 12 months. Anderson stayed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center with her husband and became a full-time student at Columbus School of Law. Her days and nights were consumed with attending classes, completing course work, working remotely for the law office in Champaign, and being a caregiver to and an advocate for, her husband.
After becoming a licensed attorney, Anderson opened a private practice in Champaign, Illinois.
Based upon her own experiences with securing benefits for her husband, Anderson has provided legal services to injured veterans and their families, on a pro bonobasis and has successfully secured disability benefits for her client's through the Department of Veterans Affairs and Social Security Disability. She created a program, Wills for Soldiers, and provided legal assistance in the preparation of Wills and Powers of Attorney for soldiers deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan on a pro bono basis.
Anderson’s work was recognized when she was awarded the Minuteman Award, which is the highest civilian award granted by the National Guard for Volunteer Services. She was also the 2015 Illinois Fellow for the Elizabeth Dole Foundation for the Advocacy of Veterans and Caregivers.
In 2018, Anderson sought the Republican nomination for Circuit Judge for Illinois’ Sixth Judicial Circuit.
2011 BS, Family and Consumer Sciences
Laura Bowman came to Illinois State University to join the Apparel Merchandising and Design department. There she quickly found her passion for the art and science that is the fashion industry. She was heavily involved in the Apparel Merchandising and Design Association, eventually leading the 10th annual fashion show as its director, one of the proudest moments of her collegiate career.
After graduating, Bowman relocated to San Francisco to intern for a non-profit working to help individuals transitioning out of homelessness get an interview and job-ready wardrobe. From there she went on to work for Fiat Lux, a fine jewelry brand and retailer. It is there that Bowman found her passion e-commerce, working to re-launch their website and digital presence. Over the course of three years she worked to help grow this beloved local store into a nationally recognized brand and tastemaker in the independent jewelry market. She is also incredibly proud to have helped develop Fiat Lux’s line of products from which a portion of the proceeds are donated to She Should Run - an organization working to increase the number of women in elected office.
Today Bowman is working for Banana Republic, looking for new ways to improve the customer journey and experience online. Promoted in under one year, she now specializes in the Men’s & Non-Apparel divisions. In her short time there she has worked to improve site navigation and break down barriers that make online shopping difficult. She is looking forward to continuing to make Banana Republic the best online retail destination.
2012 BS, Health Sciences
Kelli Parker graduated with a B.S. in Safety and a minor in Environmental Health. She interned and began her career as an environmental health and safety technician at Hygieneering, Inc. In 2014, Parker joined Klein Tools, Inc. as their safety and environmental engineer. Her dedication and enthusiasm earned her the promotion of manager of environmental health and safety, where she now manages a team who are responsible for Klein’s seven U.S. manufacturing facilities. Parker manages safety and environmental audits, ergonomic task assessments, industrial hygiene monitoring, accident/incident investigations, job hazard analysis, equipment safety audits, and safety and health training.
Parker has continued her leadership in the field of safety by continuing her education. She holds the Associate Safety Professional certification and Certified Safety Professional certification from the Board of Certified Safety Professionals, as well as the OSHA Authorized General Industry Train-the-Trainer certification.
As an active member of the National Safety Council and American Society of Safety Professionals, she regularly attends their conferences as well as the Alliance of Hazardous Materials Professionals (AHMP), Grainger Show, and the Behavioral Safety Now conference, to continue to stay up-to-date on the latest best practices for safety professionals.
Parker still has close ties to Illinois State, working with the Department of Health Sciences in creating an internship program at Klein Tools for ISU students. Parker’s passion for safety continues to inspire her peers and encourages a world class safety culture.
2008 BS, Information Technology
Joanette McBounds is an IT Release Manager at AT&T Inc. In her role, McBounds oversees the implementation of IT billing and customer care applications for AT&T Mobility used by Customer Service Representatives. Under her leadership, she manages the performance testing for major billing and customer service applications from the project planning phase until completion of the release. In addition to her professional work, Ms. McBounds is the former President of Women of AT&T-Northern Illinois where she led over 900 employees through professional and philanthropic growth and initiatives. Under her leadership, WOA-Northern Illinois received the prestigious title of Chapter of the Year and hosted a community outreach event to help girls in STEM programming (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) called “Girls Rock Technology”. McBounds received a degree in Information Systems with a concentration in Systems Development and Analysis from the School of Information Technology at Illinois State University. In addition, she is a proud alumna of Roosevelt University, Home of the Lakers, where she earned a Masters in Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management.
Her ultimate joy is sharing her love for outreach and inspiring others to maximize their potential. As the proud Founder and Executive Director for Sowing S.E.E.D.S., a nonprofit organization, she enjoys giving back to others and planting seeds in our youth by providing educational programming. Sowing S.E.E.D.S has awarded over $12K in scholarships and My Dream Dorm essentials to incoming college freshmen.
2001 BS, Kinesiology and Recreation
Keith Thraen-Borowski earned his B.S. in Kinesiology from Illinois State University in 2001. After a brief stint at The Michigan Heart and Vascular Institute, Thraen-Borowski went on to become the Lead Exercise Physiologist for the DuPage Medical Group (DMG), where he was responsible for overseeing the Exercise Physiology Department across three clinical sites while administering and interpreting diagnostic clinical cardiopulmonary stress testing. Thraen-Borowski also launched the first fully integrative Wellness Program in DuPage County, ultimately leading to him being named the Practice Manger for Wellness Programing at DMG.
After leaving DMG to pursue his ultimate goal of being a professor, Thraen-Borowski received his Ph.D. in Kinesiology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2015. He then completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Physical Activity & Cancer Epidemiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, followed by a fellowship in Supportive Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School.
Thraen-Borowski is now an assistant professor in the Departments of Kinesiology & Biology at Loras College and is the Director of the Cancer Research in Exercise Science Laboratory (Loras CARES Lab), where his research agenda focuses on the role of physical activity in cancer survivorship. He is currently the co-chair for the National Cancer Interest Group for the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and, along with founding/organizing the world’s largest Exercise Oncology conference to date (ExOncTC), has won the ACSM’s Cancer Interest GroupResearch Award twice. His work has been featured on CBS’ Sunday Morning, Good Morning America, CNN, Reuters Heath, USA Today, and the L.A. Times.
1999 BS; 2001 MS, Technology
Donald Whitman teaches at Normal Community High School in McLean County Unit 5 School District. During his 20 year tenure, he has taught: Cooperative Education, Metals, Woodworking, Introduction to Engineering, Principles of Engineering, and developed several technology education standards and procedures for the enhancement of technology literacy throughout the state of Illinois. Whitman has taught post-secondary as an adjunct professor Technology Education courses at Heartland Community College and Illinois State University.
Whitman has accepted several state and national awards for his efforts in Technology Education: the National ITEEA Technology Education Program of Excellence, Illinois Design Education Association Teacher of The Year, Technology Education Association of Illinois “Big Thinker,” and Technology Education Association of Illinois Program of the year award. He currently is the president of the TEAI where he helps lead and promote technology education throughout the state of Illinois.
Whitman also promotes Technology Education Literacy State and Nationwide by being involved with ITTEA Engineering by Design and with Project Lead the Way Introduction to Engineering. He serves as the state lead trainer for ITTEEA EbD for Foundations of Design and Engineering Design Capstone courses along with being a Master Teacher for PLTW IED.
As an Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America, Whitman enjoys camping, hiking and canoeing. Additionally, with his love of woodworking and his shop at home, he works with local charities to help provide foster children with their own storage devices where they can store their belongings and have a small sense of ownership.