HARRISBURG, Ill. (Nov. 16, 2017)— Southeastern Illinois College students got an inside look into the world of politics. As a part of the school’s “Pizza and Politics” series, SIC’s chair of social science division, Matt Lees invited SIC alumna and legislative aide Dana Hooven and retired assistant majority leader, State Senator Duane Noland, to speak to a group of 65 students.
Hooven attended SIC from 2014-2017. While attending classes she was recruited to the Model Illinois Government (MIG) team coached by Lees.
“Dana is especially gifted in writing and her abilities to frame arguments are nothing short of exceptional,” said Lees. “As a person and as a competitor it was immediately evident that Dana was special.”
Hooven shared with students how life will throw you curve balls. In 2007 Hooven was diagnosed with rare medical condition. Her curve ball came in the form of an inoperable tumor located at the base of her brain. Despite receiving a less than positive prognosis, Hooven decided to fight. She later qualified for a medical trial that helped to reduce the size of her tumor and ultimately saved her life.
Hooven, a mother of two, later returned to Southeastern Illinois College as a non-traditional student where she enrolled in the vet technician program.
After joining Lees’ Model Illinois Government team and winning numerous awards, Hooven changed her major to political science. Hooven would go on to help lead the Model Illinois Government team to three consecutive championships.
“Dana is clearly a fighter,” said Lees, “There are not many that can match her determination and sheer will to succeed.”
Hooven added, “Without Mr. Lees as my mentor, I do not think I would have realized my true purpose.”
Hooven told the gathered students that everything happens for a reason.
“Always listen to your heart, follow your passion, and get involved,” said Hooven.
Currently serving as a legislative aide for State Senator Dale Fowler, Hooven deals with public policy, constituent service and runs the Senator’s Harrisburg office.
Former State Senator Duane Noland encouraged students to ask themselves what more can they do for their community.
“Anyone can get involved and you should get involved,” said Noland. “Participation matters.”
Noland is the President and Chief Executive Officer for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives based in Springfield. The association represents 24 electric cooperatives including Southeastern Illinois Electric Cooperative here in Southern Illinois.
He previously represented the citizens of central Illinois serving four terms in the Illinois House of Representatives. He also served two terms in the Illinois Senate, retiring as Assistant Majority Leader.
Noland, ironically, was one of Lees’ political mentors. He started as a volunteer and later worked campaign staff for the Senator.
“I learned so much from Duane beyond politics,” said Lees. “Most importantly, he taught me how to treat people. Duane has had a profound impact on my life and those of so many others. He is the very definition of a public servant.”
Noland complimented Southeastern on its tradition of producing graduates who have gone on to careers in public service.
“(SIC) has generated so many elected officials, staffers, along with its award winning Model Illinois Government team. That is impressive.”