SWIC says Farewell to some of its Faculty members

Written By: Z’necia Hall

As we head to the second half of the semester, we realize that this school year is almost over. At this realization, let’s hear from some retiring teachers; Cynthia Hussain, Michael Oliver, Monica Hatch, and Kyle Donaldson. Their experience has been one that they all have enjoyed for a few different reasons.

Monica Hatch

     “It’s been a joy! I felt so fortunate to get this job 17 years ago, and I’ve never stopped feeling fortunate,” said Hatch.

       She continued by saying, “I get to learn about new topics all the time because my students write about them and bring their own unique perspective to the topic. That’s something I will really miss when I stop teaching!”

Hatch is finishing out her 17th year at SWIC. She’s taught English 95 all the way up to English 102. She gives all the credits to her colleagues for making her want to be the best teacher she could be.

Michael Oliver

“I was lucky in a way, I have a double background in literature and philosophy, right. So ever since I came here, I taught in both departments at the same time,” commented Oliver.

When asked what his favorite class has been he said, “I love teaching Shakespeare.”

Oliver really enjoys the classroom. He feels that this is what he was meant to do. Though after 28 years he says he’s ready to retire.

Kyle Donaldson, has worked in the English department who says, “I truly love my colleagues.”

“…it’s rewarding as a teacher to watch that significant growth across the course of a semester,” Donaldson said when talking about his English 95 and 96 classes.

Donaldson has been working at SWIC for 11 years, mostly at the Granite City campus because that’s his home campus as he likes the diversity in the age of students that attend there.

Cynthia Hussain

Hussain is another instructor retiring, mentioned her appreciation and gratitude for her students and colleagues.

      “I am grateful to the many students I’ve worked with over the years and all that they have taught me,” said Hussain. “…it’s been a joy to work with them.”

In her 29 years at SWIC, she has taught many different classes. She has taught a few different Literature classes but has mostly done English 91 and 92.

“I especially love to teach English 92–Critical Reading. I truly believe that being able to read and think critically improves life quality,” said Hussain.

 From teaching English 91 to English 102, teaching about Graphic Novels to Shakespeare and even Philosophy, Hussain, Hatch, Oliver, and Donaldson have poured years into their student’s futures, hopes and dreams. They have been greatly appreciated and they will be missed but we are happy for them as they get ready to start a new journey in life.

Upcoming (Feb. 24) College Fair Designed For Students, Public

Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC) is hosting a college fair on Sunday, February 24. The event will be held inside the Belleville campus varsity gym, from 1: 30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. This event is free for all students and is open to the entire community.

Some of the college fair resources include:

  • Review college catalogs in respective high school guidance offices or visit the college websites before the fair. Develop questions to ask the representative at the fair.
  • Select “must see” colleges in priority order. Allocate time at the fair to speak with each one.
  • Attend workshops on financial aid and transfer planning, if applicable to one’s college needs.
  • Visit out-of-area colleges first. Take the opportunity to learn about colleges, as well as colleges that are further away to visit. Talk to local colleges later in the fair when the lines are shorter.
  • Pick up business cards of the admissions representative or handouts and jot notes on the back for follow-up later.

For more information, visit the following website, https://www.swic.edu/students/services/advising/college-fair/

It’s Tough Being A Full-Time Athlete And Full-Time Student

Three athletes reveal what it is like to play sports and study at SWIC

Being a student athlete is a full-time job. Therefore, it is not easy to be good at both academics and the athlete’s chosen sport. Every student athlete spends at least 15 years in trying to train themselves to fulfill their dream of playing in college. All these years of hard work and patience finally pays off when these young adults/athletes are given the opportunity to play a sport in college.

Among these people at Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC) is William Berger, who has been playing basketball for the last 12 years. Berger has dreamed about playing college basketball since he was in fifth grade.

            “As I grew older, I realized that if I work hard, I might have the opportunity to play in college,” said Berger.

            Before starting school at SWIC, Berger used to go to school at Webster University where he used to play on the school’s men’s basketball team. Berger also mentioned that the advantages of being a college athlete at Webster and SWIC are almost the same.

William Berger

            “By being a college athlete, you don’t have to worry about paying your tuition, since you receive a scholarship. Another thing that I like the most is that there is an athletic center, underneath the gymnasium, and it is a very nice place to get your homework done and also to socialize with other athletes.”

            Berger has always challenged himself by playing basketball. He said that he was discouraged by every other person in his life for playing basketball.

            “People told me that I would never make it. In fifth grade, I scored 2 points the whole season, even when my father was the coach of the team. I think what makes me happy now is that I proved everyone wrong,” Berger said.

            Berger also mentioned that college athletes receive a lot of invitations from other colleges to play for them.

            “I got a call from the University of California Santa Barbara assistant coach Kevin Bramley and he told me if I had a good senior year, they would see what they could do for me the following year.”

            During these 12 years of playing basketball, Berger has suffered from stress fractures in both of his shins, right below his knee cap. Even after this injury, Berger has continued to play basketball and is hoping to play basketball in the near future as well.

            Speaking of the future, there is an 18 year old, Marc Rodriguez, who has been playing baseball since he was only 3 years old. He not only plays baseball but also basketball and hockey on the side.

            “It helps to maintain my endurance and keep in shape,” said Rodriguez, explaining the reason why he plays two other sports besides baseball.

            Like every other college athlete, Rodriguez has also thought about playing baseball at a higher level.

            “Playing pro baseball has always been a dream of mine. I train myself and work really hard,” said Rodriguez. “If the opportunity comes up to where I can play pro ball, I will definitely take it.”

Marc Rodriguez

            Rodriguez, a recent high school graduate, made SWIC’s baseball team within no time.

             “What motivates me the most is the love for the game. Baseball is my type of drug; it’s so addicting,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez describes the advantages of being an athlete, by saying, “You receive a lot of scholarships, not only from the college that you are currently enrolled in but from other colleges as well. Another thing that I like the most is that you can sign up for classes early, which also means that you don’t have to wait for an hour at the Academic Advising office. It is also good to stay connected with other college athletes.”

            Rodriguez is a pitcher, a position he embraces. As he put it, “Being a pitcher, I love the pressure of tight situations.”

Another athlete, Luan Barbosa Santana, a 22 year old, flew all the way from Brazil, South America, to Belleville, Illinois, to play soccer at SWIC and to also pursue his education. Santana has been playing soccer for more than 17 years.

Luan Barbosa Santana

             “What motivates me the most to play soccer is the culture that I grew up in. In my country, Brazil, playing soccer is considered to be a big thing and every single boy dreams to play soccer professionally. Every other boy, I have dreamed about playing soccer professionally, not because you can earn a lot of money, but it is something that I love to do,” said Santana.

Santana also described the benefits of being an athlete, echoing the remarks made by Rodriguez and Berger. Said Santana, “By being an athlete, you make a lot of friends, you learn a lot, you learn to be a leader and, most importantly, you learn to work in a team. Apart from this, you receive a lot of scholarships and SWIC also provides accommodation for its athletes”

Santana loves to play soccer, but at the same time he is ambitious enough to receive a degree in Engineering.

            “I have dreamed of being a pro soccer player since I was little,” he said. “I still think about it sometimes, but then I remind myself that a career in Engineering would be more beneficial for me in the future.”

            Every athlete at SWIC has spent years and years to train themselves to be where they are right now. Even while they are at SWIC, they are still training themselves so that they can get scholarships when they transfer to another college.

A Well-Kept Secret: Sign Language Studies Offered At SWIC


            The Sign Language Studies (SLS) program at Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC) allows students, who are interested in being a sign language interpreter, to pursue that career by completing a 2-year course at SWIC. The SLS courses are only offered in the Fall and Spring semesters at SWIC.


“Students enrolled in the second year at SWIC are supposed to complete 25 hours of sign language interpreting and are expected to go to at least two different social events,” explained student Gabriella Generally.

            When asked what motivated her to learn sign language, Generally responded, “I wanted to give back to the community that gave me a way to communicate when I was little. I had a hard time hearing, and when I was younger, I was non-verbal, so my mom taught me American Sign Language” (ASL).

            When 14 years old, Generally said she realized that she wanted a career in becoming a sign language interpreter for songs.

Her passion for interpreting was made obvious when she said, “I love song interpreting, and I feel like this is my way of giving back to the community who helped me in the past.”

            Generally said she wants to transfer to a four-year college, so that she can earn a Bachelors’ degree in Deaf Education. When interviewed during the Fall 2018 semester, Generally said her aim was to transfer to Fontbonne University in St. Louis.

            Students enrolled in the SLS program at SWIC have different reasons why they want to be an interpreter. Some students have personal reasons. For example, Angela Wrather is planning to be an interpreter because of her daughter.

            “My daughter, who passed away, was non-verbal, and to honor her, I decided to start a career change,” said Wrather.

            Wrather was 40 years old when she realized she wanted to be a sign language interpreter. Her future plans, she said, are to eventually get state certifications and to start working.

            Alex Martinez, another student in the SLS program, wants to continue to work for her Bachelors’ while she is at SWIC. Martinez is inspired by the SLS program because the program, she said, relates to her health condition.

Student Debbie Mills, signing the symbol for “I love you,” in sign language.

            “I have an Usher Syndrome, a disorder that causes deaf/blindness, and when I met others like me, some signed and that inspired me to learn,” said Martinez.

            The truth be told, Mills said she knew from birth that she wanted to be an interpreter.

            “My parents were both deaf, and I grew up using sign language,” she said.

            Mills, who was also interviewed last Fall semester, had already received her Bachelors’ degree and was looking for work in Missouri.

           Yet another SWIC student, Bella Grippi, grew an awareness of sign language last year, and said she absolutely fell in love with the culture that was provided by SLS. What motivated Grippi the most to join this program was that she was working in a school and decided that it might be fun to interpret for children.

            While Grippi was motivated by her students, Michaela Russell said she connected with sign language after watching the TV series, Switched at Birth. About a year ago, Russell said she became involved with the SLS program, wanting to contribute to the deaf community. As for her future, she is planning to look for a job and wants to transfer to another college to complete her Bachelor’s.

           Is it Lindsey or Russell? said she was motivated by her little sister to choose a career in interpreting. “I was about 7 years old when my younger sister lost her hearing,” said is it Lindsey or Russell? ” My mom taught us sign language and I absolutely loved it.”

            Is it Lindsey or Russell? also mentioned that other motivational factors included the fact she is an introvert and shy. As for her future, she plans to take the required tests to become an interpreter. 

            In the end, the SLS program is attended by students who come from different parts of Illinois and beyond. Still, not many know about this program. Its main goal is to prepare students for the future, so that they can contribute to the deaf community.

Sign Language Studies (SLS) students show how “SWIC” is spelled in sign language.

Should SWIC Employees Wear Visible ID Badges?

By SWIC Weekly

Please make sure to read this week’s fourth and final installment of SWIC Weekly‘s series concerning guns and SWIC. This week, Robert Luttrell, Director of Public Safety at SWIC, is featured.

In talking with Chief Luttrell, an interesting topic surfaced. When it was noted that no one is identifiable here on campus, Chief Luttrell agreed, saying it is difficult for he and his officers to know everyone on campus. The topic of identification badges then arose.

Does it make sense to have some type of identification for staff, faculty, and employees at SWIC?

It should help security identify who is employed at SWIC and who is not, right?

Should ID badges be worn at SWIC?

But, why stop there? Why not have students wear an ID badge of some type? This could be given out during registration, freshmen orientation, SWIC Activities, or however appropriate. Yes? No?

This is not to say something could not happen or that the ID policy would guarantee nothing tragic ever happening on the campus of SWIC. However, it could be a needed step to prevent such horror,

Get To Know Me

Niha Ursani
(Editor-in-chief for SWIC WEEKLY)

When I started school at Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC), I didn’t know about the events that were supposed to take place at SWIC. As a student, I can understand that people want to know about what is happening at SWIC.

SWIC Weekly is a perfect platform for every SWIC student, employee or an instructor to find out what is happening at SWIC. I highly encourage all of you to reach out to me, if you want your work to be featured in SWIC Weekly, or if you have any questions regarding the newspaper. I will be more than happy to help.

Email address: editorswicweekly@gmail.com

Consider Yourself At A Workplace, And Be Aware Of Your Surroundings


(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth and final installment of the four-part series “Guns and SWIC.”)

Dorothy, you are not in high school anymore. Instead, you are at Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC) – and consider it just like a workplace.

And, when is the last time your workplace ever “practiced” for a possible active shooter?

Chief Robert Luttrell

“College and universities are different,” explained Chief Robert Luttrell, Director of Public Safety at SWIC, referring and comparing SWIC to K-12 school districts. “They [college students] are adults capable of making their own decisions.”

Therefore, if you expected to have a campus-wide “practice drill” to find out what you should do should there ever be an active shooter on any of SWIC’s campuses, you can forget it. That’s not to say SWIC does not have a plan of attack.

“The whole idea of preparation is being aware,” said Luttrell. “It’s having a plan. It’s having a plan at every moment.”

SWIC utilizes its important SWIC Alert system to keep campus safe.

“SWIC Alert includes emails, text messages, and notifications across the computer. We have a phone system as well, able to alert people by a series of beeps and message that an incident is going on,” said Luttrell. “Hopefully with those four avenues of communication, individuals get immediate notification of what to do.”

It’s why Pubic Safety wants every student and employee to subscribe to SWIC Alert service.

“As you know, if we go into a locked down mode, if a student says he wants to leave, we can’t keep them here,” said Luttrell. “I would highly advise you not to leave.”

It’s why Luttrell said to consider SWIC like a workplace.

“One thing different about school districts K-12 versus colleges and universities, K-12 are minors, where students are under the care of teachers,” said Luttrell.

SWIC is also considered an open campus.

Chief Robert Luttrell

“When we are open, every door is open,” said Luttrell. “We do get individuals on campus regularly who are not affiliated with the campus. They just come here to use a computer. They come to sit around and use the facilities.”

And Public Safety cannot really shove them out.

“Because this is an open campus,” he explained.

It’s one reason Luttrell would love to have some type of noticeable identification for both employees and students.

“That’s something we are working on,” Luttrell admitted. “It would be helpful for everyone to wear an ID because then you can identify personnel because we have so many faculty members, whether they are adjuncts or full-timers or staff. It is difficult to know who is who.”

Whether such ID policy will be enacted has yet to be determined.

In fact, when it comes to security, there are only a couple roads to follow, he explained.

“There are two ways for security,” said Luttrell. “There is nothing and then there is so much security that it makes it become impossible to get from Point A to Point B. Some place along the spectrum you have to find what you are most comfortable with and with what your organization is comfortable with. Is it less — or, is it more?”

“It is difficult because there are so many people who want nothing and so many people who are only comfortable with everything. It’s finding that happy medium.”

Luttrell will be the first to acknowledge that school security has heightened since April 20, 1999.  That’s the day Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School and opened fire, killing 12 students and one teacher, injuring even more. That horrifying event changed the state of school safety forever.

Unfortunately, these school shootings haven’t slowed down. Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Red Lake…the list grows as does the death toll. Since Columbine, there has been at least 143 children, educators and others have been killed in assaults on school grounds.

“We take your safety and the safety of everybody on campus, including students, faculty, staff and guests seriously,” said Luttrell, noting that his staff trains regularly on active violence. During the break between Winter 2018 and Spring 2019 semesters, public safety did specific training scenarios.

What Luttrell requests is that faculty, staff, and students take advantage of the public safety videos provided on Infoshare (for faculty) and Estorm (for students). The video on Infoshare, for example, provides information and what to do during a possible shooter at a workplace.

SWIC Public Safety also encourages faculty to participate in its training seminars. For example, a week before the Spring 2019 semester began, leaders from the SWIC Public Safety Department facilitated a workshop to inform faculty and participants about proper emergency procedures, crime reporting, and the services offered through their department. The training is based, in part, on “4 E’s”: educate, evade, escape and engage.

“4 E’s is a program that is taught by Tier One Tactical Solutions, of experienced St. Louis area officers,” said Luttrell. “It really coordinates with decision-based training, similar to the ‘Run, Hide, Fight’ scenario. So, it is decision-based training for individuals to make decisions in any active situation. It’s not just about active violence.”

It means being aware of your surroundings.

“If you see something, say something,” said Luttrell, whether that be a student or visitor making you uncomfortable or even to address the concerns of a teacher.

Such training is not only offered to faculty and employees; it’s offered to students as well.

“We can teach it once a month if we get the interest,” said Luttrell. “The people we are driving is the faculty. And, the faculty is reluctant to do it due to lack of available instruction time.”

Again, he cannot make it mandatory.

“These situations are highly fluid,” said Luttrell. “Because they are so dynamic, they are subject to change. That’s why we encourage everyone to attend the ‘4E’s’ training, to get some different decision-making scenario experiences.”

He added, “Preparedness is based upon being aware of your surroundings and situations, whether that be at school, workplace or a social setting. It’s being aware and then having some options. It’s not about being just here. It’s being prepared for everyday life.”

Sign Up for SWIC’s Emergency Alert System

The intent of the SWIC Alert service is to notify SWIC students and employees by e-mail and/or text message of campus closures for weather and other emergencies. Use the following link: