Illinois Central College Alumna Wins State Award for Distinction and Service
ICC alumna, Dr. Phillis Dewitt, of Pekin, Ill., recently was named the 2015 Illinois Community Colleges Trustees Association (ICCTA) Distinguished Alumnus, an award which recognizes a community college alumnus with distinction in a chosen field, humanitarian service, interest in support of education and community colleges, and ability to overcome life’s obstacles.
Dewitt graduated from ICC’s nursing program in 1993 and was awarded the College’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2013. ICC nominated her for the ICCTA Distinguished Alumnus Award for her ongoing contributions to the community. ICC Interim President, Dr. William Tammone, and two board of trustees members attended the award ceremony honoring Dewitt on June 5, in Schaumburg, Ill.
“I was very humbled to receive this award,” Dewitt said. “I am a huge proponent of community colleges and know that my associate degree set me on a path that changed my life forever for the good. I was blessed with amazing faculty who inspired my love of learning and encouraged me to be the best I could be. The education and support I received while at Illinois Central College far exceeded all my expectations.”
A product of the foster care system and a victim of sexual abuse, Dewitt became a victims’ advocate for victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence and used her training as a nurse to serve adults and children who suffer as she once did.
“My lifelong passion has been to help provide support to those who were hurting and help provide a voice to those who were unable to speak for themselves,” Dewitt said. “I have worked hard to not only help others overcome their abuse but hope that somehow my ability to overcome these struggles would give hope to others.”
After earning an associate degree in nursing from Illinois Central College as a non-traditional student, she earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Graceland University in Missouri while fostering 175 children with her late husband Tony. Dewitt earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in nursing from the OSF Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing.
Dewitt now works as an adult hospitalist and teaches at OSF Saint Francis College of Nursing. In addition to her work as a victims’ advocate, she travels for medical missions trips and is involved in a non-profit which helps Haitians become financially self-sufficient.
Their broad range of humanitarian service to the community and to the world has earned Dewitt and her family local, state and national recognition. In 1990, she was given a national honors by the U.S. Department of Justice for her work with victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence, and her family earned the Tazewell County Family of the Year Award.
In 1991, her family earned the State of Illinois Family of the Year Award, and in 2000 they earned Peoria Illinois Family of the Year Award. Dewitt also earned a Sister Mary Ludgera Memorial Award in 2009, a distinction which recognizes outstanding nursing practice, caring patient interaction and outstanding teaching ability.