The Division of Student Affairs is excited to recognize four outstanding young alumni as the recipients of the 2018 Redbird Proud Young Alumni Award: Kevin Parkinson, Lindsay Vahl, Scott Preston, and Aja Holmes.
The award recognizes young alumni who demonstrate great pride in Illinois State University, as well as extend what they learned through their experience in Student Affairs to what they are doing now. Recipients of this honor live the values of Illinois State and Student Affairs – Learning and Scholarship, Individualized Attention, Diversity and Inclusion, Respect, Civic Engagement, Collaboration, and Integrity. The honorees were recognized at this year’s Alumni Luncheon on October 12.
Aja Holmes ‘00, M.S. ‘02, a two-time graduate from Illinois State University, uses what she learned from her involvement as a student as a higher education professional today. During her time at Illinois State, Holmes was involved with the Black Student Union, University Program Board, LeaderShape, and Student Government Association.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree in mass communication and her master’s degree in college student development at Illinois State, Holmes went on to earn her doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from Iowa State University.
Now, Holmes works as the senior associate director for residential life at California State University Sacramento. She has also served as one of the founding members of the Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis as well as on the editorial board of the Journal Committed to Social Change on Race and Ethnicity. When Holmes is not at work, you can catch her enjoying a good book, traveling, and eating gelato.
Kevin Parkinson ‘09 was very involved during his time as a student leader on campus. Parkinson was an active member of the University Program Board, the Student Alumni Council, and also served as a Preview Guide.
Parkinson found his passion for service by participating in several trips with Alternative Breaks, Leaders of Social Change, and Pay It Forward, while also attending Leadership Revolution and LeaderShape.
Currently, Parkinson serves as the principal of Midtown Public Charter School in Jackson, Mississippi. In a previous position with Teach For America’s Mississippi region, he recruited and on-boarded more than 500 teachers. He also administered a $1 million, 5-year federal grant to provide after-school enrichment activities to a school in rural Mississippi, and has raised more than $140,000 to take hundreds of students to dozens of cities across the southeast for leadership and service programming.
Before Scott Preston ‘10 was sworn-in as the youngest councilman in Normal, he was an active student leader on Illinois State’s campus. With a commitment to civic engagement, Preston served as a member of Student Government Association, American Democracy Project, Delta Chi Fraternity, and was also a Resident Assistant and a Student Involvement Ambassador.
Since graduation, Preston was re-elected to his second term as a councilman in Normal in spring 2017. He also served as assistant to the Treasurer of Illinois for four years. In addition to public service, Preston is the president of Tomorrow Enterprises LLC, a real estate development and investment company he founded in 2011.
Staying involved in the Illinois State community, Preston currently serves as an alumni ambassador for the Division of Student Affairs, as well serves on the Alumni Association board of directors’ Homecoming committee.
As a student, Lindsay Vahl ‘06, M.S. ‘09 was highly involved in various activities which propelled her into a career in higher education. While an undergraduate student, Vahl served as an Admissions Ambassador, MASAI Mentor, was involved in Fraternity and Sorority Life, and participated in Leadership Revolution.
After Vahl finished her undergraduate degree, she went on to pursue her master’s degree in college student personnel administration. As a proud two-time alumna of Illinois State, Vahl seeks to support students in various advisory capacities including LeaderShape and Alternative Breaks. She also serves on the Umoja Committee.
Currently, Vahl serves as the director of alumni engagement here at Illinois State University. In this role, she is able to connect and build relationships with alumni and friends throughout the Chicagoland area.
These young alumni are great examples of what it means to live out the values of Student Affairs after graduation. To learn more about the Redbird Proud Young Alumni Award and how you can be involved as an alum, visit our Alumni and Friends page of the Division of Student Affairs website.