Sauk Makes it Possible — You Make it Happen
SVC Foundation and Sauk Alumni Association

Outstanding Alumni Recipients

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Margo D. Empen, 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award

 Lifelong educator, Margo D. Empen, was chosen as the recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award that honors a particular achievement of noteworthy value, a series of such achievements or a career of noteworthy accomplishments that bring honor to the College. Empen graduated from SVCC in 1989 with an Associate of Science degree in Elementary Education. She also received a bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University and two master’s degrees from Western Illinois University. “Not everyone has the opportunity to complete a degree or even go to college. Completing a degree is an incredible accomplishment.  You must celebrate the hard work and knowledge gained.”

Empen has served the Dixon Public School District for nearly 30 years as a teacher, principal, assistant superintendent and in her current role as superintendent. She worked to reinstate the agriculture program at Dixon High School and collaborated with SVCC to offer blended learning opportunities and secure a grant for an onsite greenhouse. Among her past honors are the 2018-19 IASA Northwest Division ‘Superintendent of Distinction’ and Dixon Public Schools Teacher of the Year awards.

Empen also demonstrates ongoing commitment to community service through her participation in organizations like the Rotary Club of Dixon, KSB Governance and Advisory Board and CEO Board of Control and Executive Committee at Whiteside Area Career Center. In the words of her nominator, “Mrs. Empen’s commitment to serve others, our community and its students is an inspiration and representative of Sauk’s mission to engage the community in lifelong learning, public service and economic development.”

 Of her time as an educator, Empen shared, “I think being an educator is such a noble profession, and we are lucky to be involved with students and providing them knowledge and opportunities for the future. Being able to work in a people-centered business is an honor and I love being able to help, work with and serve in a leadership capacity.”


Rachel (Marco) Kobus '07, Alumni Achievement Award

This is the first year this award will be bestowed in recognition of alumni 35 years and younger whose achievements, public service and/or volunteer activities bring honor to the College. SVCC’s student commencement speaker in 2007, Kobus graduated from Sauk with an Associate of Science degree in general studies. She went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in public relations and master’s degree in communication from Illinois State University. As the Marketing Coordinator for SVCC, Kobus developed successful marketing campaigns including Another Sauk Success, and oversaw all public relations and communications efforts for the College.   

 Currently the Associate Director for Alumni Engagement at ISU, Kobus leads communications efforts directed toward over 210,000 alumni. An active member of the university and local community, Kobus serves on the ISU Administrative/Professional Council, in the McLean County Chamber of Commerce Leadership McLean County program and sits on the executive board for the Association for Women in Communication-Bloomington chapter.  

She believes strongly in the power of education and works to share her knowledge and expertise through guest lectures and presentations on public speaking. Recently, she was recognized for her dedication with the 2019 Illinois State University Emerging Leader Award. Her nominator shared, “Rachel has grown into a powerhouse at ISU where she is one of the lead social influencers. She represents SVCC in the brightest light.”


2018                 Frank Selmi '73 
2017                 Kirk Hooks '85 
2016                 Sharon Kim Gaffey '81, '76
2015                 Alan Pfeifer '70 
2014                 Robert E. Atherton '86 
2013                 Darin DeHaan '93 
2012                 Kristina (Thompson) Nystrom '89 
2011                 Jon Mandrell '00 
2010                 Carol A. Biester '74 
2009                 Larry A. Cooper '72, '69 
2009                 Janis A. Card '70 
2008                 Kevin E. Hughes '77 
2007                 Penny Duncan '91, '82 
2006                 Edson C. Cox '86 
2005                 Judy L. Randall '91 
2004                 Jeanie L. (Hansen) Burke '84 
2003                 Catherine S. Vos '95 
2002                 Frank E. Martinez '82 
2001                 Ermelinda (Martinez) Lewis '93 
                 Beth (Ward) Fiorini '82, '73 
2000                 Thomas Finney '81 
1999                 Christine (Hindley) Byar '96, '82 
1998                 Pamela K. (Rajnowski) Heller '84 
1997                 Rebecca R. (Pleasnick) West '81 
1996                 Debi (Brottmiller) Hill '69-71
1995                 Roberto Carmona '86 
1994                 Pennie (Von Bergen) Wessels '69 
1993                 Harry D. Ulferts '71 
1992                 Sharon (Underhile) Thompson '89 
1991                 Loren C. Swartley '67 
1990                 Larry Dowdy '73 
1989                 Donna M. (Helfrich) Hall '70 
1988                 Gail E. Francis '68 
1987                 James M. Boesen '76 
1986                 Ann M. (Bingham) McMillin '81-82