Pause for Applause: Summer 2023 – News


Join us in applauding these accomplished Illinois State University alumni. […]

Join us in applauding these accomplished Illinois State University alumni.

Rachel Lockett standing in front of brick wall
Rachel Lockett ’15

Authoring IT strategy

Rachel Lockett ’15 is the chief information officer at Pohlad Companies and first-time author of The Technology Doesn’t Matter: Prioritizing the People in IT Business Alignment, published in March by Wiley. A veteran IT executive, Lockett helms the IT operations of Pohlad, a company spanning the realms of banking, investing, real estate, automotive, robotic automation, engineering and material handling, and sports and entertainment; among Pohlad’s most visible companies is Major League Baseball’s Minnesota Twins. Working in Minneapolis and living in Lakeville, Minnesota, Lockett offers insight gained from her career to help transform IT departments through cross-departmental collaboration and innovation.

Ricky King standing in front of curtain
Ricky King ’20

Profesor dedicado

Ricky King ’20 was named Bilingual Teacher of the Year by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) in February. An English teacher at Normal Community High School, King works closely with English language learning students. King grew up in a family that immigrated from Mexico. He spoke English growing up, but wanting to better connect with family members and his heritage, he learned Spanish in high school and while at Illinois State. One of only 14 teachers honored as regional or special subjects teachers of the year by ISBE this year, King brings personal experiences to his role in McLean County Unit School District 5, where more than 50 languages are spoken.

Candice Halbert standing in front of sciencey backdrop
Candice Halbert ’01

Seen in STEM

Candice Halbert ’01 is a chemist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. She is the founder and president of Youth Outreach in Science Technology Engineering and Math (YO-STEM), a nonprofit empowering underserved students through hands-on STEM experiences. YO-STEM has three flagship programs: Girls in STEM (gSTEM), STEM Saturday, and a coed competitive robotics club. Halbert and Oak Ridge colleague and YO-STEM Vice President Clarice Phelps were recognized this spring among People magazine’s “2023 Women Changing the World.” Halbert and Phelps hope to grow YO-STEM by serving more students locally and offering services in other cities.

Bruce Firchau environmental portrait taken at Alumni Center
Bruce Firchau ’71, M.S. ’73

Hardwood historian

Bruce Firchau ’71, M.S. ’73, chairs the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) Hall of Fame and Basketball Museum of Illinois. He was recently recognized with the IBCA’s Chuck Rolinski Lifetime Achievement Award. A longtime basketball historian, Firchau has led the charge to establish a physical space for the museum. Though it already maintains a presence in the newly built Wintrust Sports Complex in Bedford Park, through wall exhibits and regular events such as coaches’ clinics, fundraising is underway for a building addition to accommodate a larger museum space. A former boys’ basketball coach at six Illinois high schools, Firchau’s teams won 557 games over his 38-year coaching career.

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