The St. Charles Community College Foundation selected Laura Helling, director of development for the international humanitarian organization Wings of Hope, to receive the college’s 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award. The award was presented at the 26th annual SCC commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 17, in the College Center on campus.
Helling was a returning learner with five young children when she started her journey at SCC. Now director of development at Wings of Hope based in Chesterfield, Mo., Helling credits SCC for giving her the start she needed.
“Before the luck – and there was some – there was a tremendous amount of hard work and that started here on this campus,” Helling said in her acceptance remarks. The Associate of Arts degree she obtained from SCC in 2001 was Laura’s first step towards the fulfillment of her career ambitions.
“I needed to get started,” Helling said. “I knew I wanted to go on and get a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree and a Ph.D. and build on the foundation I started at St. Charles Community College.” Laura went on to get a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Lindenwood University and a master’s degree in nonprofit administration from Washington University.
She hopes to someday pursue a doctorate in education. “Someday I would love to teach,” she said. “There were many teachers who helped guide me to where I am today. I enjoy what I’m doing so much and I hope to pass along those opportunities to others.”
Prior to working at Wings of Hope, Helling was executive director of the Foundry Art Centre. She also worked as cultural arts supervisor for the City of St. Peters Cultural Arts Center, helping the organization to grow and coordinating grassroots efforts to establish local interest in the arts.
Helling is involved with several local arts organizations. She served on the Arts and Culture Commission with the City of St. Charles. She is a founding board member of Riverside Shakespeare Theatre Co. (which is responsible for producing the St. Charles Shakespeare in the Park event), a board member for the Festival of the Little Hills, a member of the Association for Fundraising Professionals and a member of Lambert Airport’s Art Advisory Committee.
Helling received the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award from Kasey McKee, SCC vice president for college advancement and planning. The Foundation initiated the award in 2006 and solicits nominations from the community.
Following the presentation of the Distinguished Alumni Award, Graham R. Fisher, Ph.D., chief scientist at SunEdison Inc. in St. Peters, Mo., gave the keynote address. “Your degree will give you more choices on what is next for you,” he told the graduates. “Remember, in life, it's not so much where you go but it's more about what you do when you get there.”
Of the 227 graduates who received honors distinctions, 30 received Highest Honors, 91 received High Honors and 106 received Honors distinctions.
The St. Charles Community College Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, raises funds to support student scholarships and education programs for the college. For more information on the SCC Foundation and its vision to transform lives and strengthen communities, visit www.stchas.edu/foundation.
St. Charles Community College is a public, comprehensive two-year community college with associate degrees and certificate programs in the arts, business, sciences and career-technical fields. SCC provides workforce training and community-based personal and professional development as well as cultural, recreational and entertainment opportunities. For more information, visit www.stchas.edu.
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