At an Aug. 13 ceremony, four outstanding Black Hawk College Quad-Cities Campus alumni were inducted into the 2015 Alumni Hall of Fame.
The inductees represent the best of Black Hawk College. These new members demonstrate the Black Hawk College core values of appreciation of diversity, caring and compassion, fairness, honesty, integrity, respect and responsibility.
Dr. Stewart L. Adams, Rock Island
Dr. Stewart L. Adams earned his associate degree from Black Hawk College in 1969 then pursued his bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Illinois State University. In 1974, he graduated from Illinois State University with his master’s degree in special education. In 2003, he earned his doctorate of education degree from Illinois State University.
Dr. Adams has a passion for children and youth throughout this community and taught special education students for 33 years in the Rock Island and Milan school districts. During this time, he initiated a collaborative system with special education area department chairs and an e-mail network with 70 teachers throughout the Illinois area on special education issues.
Dr. Adams has served on the Illinois State Board of Education, the Illinois Education Association, and the Illinois Advisory Council on the Education of Students with Disabilities. He also participated in the formation of the Spring Forward Learning Center, a local nonprofit that offers education and enrichment programs for students in the Rock Island and Milan area. He has also served as president and vice president of the organization.
Besides his service to the educational community, Dr. Adams is a ruling elder in his church and has been active in local politics since 1982.
Vera Ellen Hinrichsen, Rock Island
Vera Ellen Hinrichsen attended Black Hawk College between 1977 and 1992 while pursuing an early childhood education major. In 1976, she became the founding member and executive director of Just Kids Early Care and Education Centers.
Since that time, she has grown Just Kids into a nationally accredited agency and not-for-profit United Way partner. In 1993, she added Just Kids II, which is a school age program that serves kids from the age of six weeks to 12 years. What began as a small program serving 19 children in 1976 has grown into a multi-site program with 56 employees that serves more than 200 children and their families.
Vera has epitomized a life of service and volunteerism. She has participated in many committees over the years, including the Early Childhood Coalition of Illinois, Rock Island Community Foundation Board of Governor, Milan Chamber of Commerce, Milan Rotary Club, Kiwanis and United Way.
Vera and her husband have two sons, one grandson and a granddaughter on the way.
Virgil J. Mayberry, Rock Island
Virgil J. Mayberry completed a five-year metal patternmaker apprenticeship program at Black Hawk College in 1976. He took additional coursework in Spanish, statistics, criminal law and justice, and Afro-American history during his time at Black Hawk College. He later earned his Institute of Government and Public Affairs: County Leadership degree from the University of Illinois in 2011. He received additional training at the Allied Institute of Technology in Chicago, St. Ambrose University in Davenport and Scott Community College in Bettendorf.
From 1965 through 2007, Virgil was employed by John Deere and was the world’s first black Indian patternmaker. He was a time study representative for the United Auto Workers Local 434 Union, served on the Rock Island County Board of Supervisors, and currently serves in the 2nd Ward of the Rock Island City Council.
Virgil’s achievements are extensive and include serving as president of the Alliance for Retired Americans Rock Island County, founding member of the Council on Children at Risk, deputy registrar for Rock Island County, past President and founder of the Rock Island County NAACP, past president and member of the Community Caring Conference, past chair of the Martin Luther King Center Advisory Board, and a 1981 William Dawson Award Winner.
Virgil has served the community by being active as a member of the 14th Judicial District Task Force on juvenile detention, a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and a member of ACTIVE Club of Rock Island. His other memberships have included service on the Child Abuse Council, QC Coalition of Native Americans, Bi-State Metropolitan Planning Commission, and board member for Horace Mann Choice Elementary School. His passion for children at risk, gender equality and this community has been evident throughout his life and career.
Jewell Juanita Perkins, East Moline
Jewell Juanita Perkins earned her associate degree from Black Hawk College in 1989. She went on to receive her bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University through the Board of Governor’s program.
Jewell has served as the president of the Illinois Community College Admission and Records Office Association and served on the college’s District Finance Committee, Strategic Planning Committee, Selections Committee, and District Planning Committee for Student Information Systems. She was also the first African-American president of the East Moline District #37 school board and provided leadership in the area of voluntary school desegregation.
Jewell has upheld service in her community throughout her life. She has received the Valiant Woman Award at the local, state and national regional level. She also received the Community Trailblazer Award in 2014, and received the Distinguished Neighborhood Service Award from Project NOW Community Action Agency.
In her spare time, Jewell enjoys spending time with her five children, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Last updated 8/14/2015