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DECATUR — In a sea of blue, Richland Community College conferred degrees on 225 students during graduation ceremonies at the Decatur Civic Center on Friday evening.

In all, 467 students — from ages 18 to 71 — graduated with degrees or certificates following the spring semester. Prior to Friday's ceremonies, the Health Professions pinning was held.

The scheduled faculty speaker was professor Kristi Palmer, according to a news release from Richland. Palmer is a Richland graduate who earned her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Illinois at Springfield and her Master's of Science in family development and education from Friends University in Wichita, Kansas.

Palmer presents workshops across Decatur and Central Illinois on a variety of marriage and family topics. She has been teaching for 23 years at Richland.

Student speaker Anne Preston has attended Richland since fall 2017. She assisted in the development of an intramural sports program, in which she also coaches volleyball. She also is an intern with the college's marketing department and plans to pursue a business marketing degree at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

Cindy Jackson, a 2015 graduate, has been selected as the Alumna of the Year. She earned her associate degree in sustainable agriculture and is the operations manager at Good Samaritan Inn with Mercy Gardens. The Mercy Gardens program teaches students how to grow fruits and vegetables that are prepared and served to patrons of the inn, which helps the less fortunate.

Jackson was instrumental, the college said, in working with the Richland Foundation to bring The Pantry at Richland Community College to students in need of food assistance. She also is an adjunct faculty member for the horticulture department at Richland.

Jackson has written a curriculum and taught for a local Field to Fork job skills training program. Low-income residents learn how to grow and prepare foods, and students are assisted in earning a food handler's certificate to help them find a job in the food service industry.

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