Commander J. Shannon Parker, Don Beckemeyer, and Dr. Nancy Evers sit before the presentation.
Three Centralia High School Alumni were honored during an assembly on Friday at the Centralia High School Gymnasium.
Class of 1980 member Don Beckmeyer, Class of 1964's Dr. Nancy Evers, and Class of 1992's Commander J. Shannon Parker Jr. were all honored for their various accomplishments.
Don Beckemeyer currently works as a Mechanical Engineer for NASA. An Irvington Native, after high school he went on to graduate from SIU Carbondale after a stint at Kaskaskia College. He later went on to work for NASA as a Deputy Director of Engineering, a Systems Engineer, and a Project Manager. He worked on the mission management team for 2 space shuttle flights and received NASA's Spaceflight leadership award. He currently works on the SLS, or Space Launch System, NASA's state of the art new space vehicle. He challenged students to get involved in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
"I challenge you to look for opportunities to make a difference in your own lives. In your circle of friends. In your community. In your future," said Beckemeyer.
Dr. Nancy Evers, a renowned educator, graduated from Illinois State University before moving on to get a masters and doctorate degree from the University of Wisconsin after high school. She became a college professor at the University of Cincinnati, and has served as the president on the University Council for Educational Administration and served as the Invited Chairperson of the National Commission on Women in Educational Leadership. She encouraged students to follow their dreams.
"Today, I want to encourage you to dream, and to dream big. To envision a better world that you would like to see for yourselves and others in the future," said Evers.
Naval Fighter Pilot Commander J. Shannon Parker was the youngest of the honorees. He served the country after graduating from Vanderbilt and Indiana University as a Naval Aviation Commander. Commander Parker flew over 200 combat missions in Iraq and received four Navy Commendation Medals and an Air Medal. He currently serves at a naval base in Jacksonville, Florida. He quoted Theodore Roosevelt during his speech.
"Theodore Roosevelt once said 'Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing'. [Teachers] countless hours preparing students for the rest of their lives is greatly appreciated," Parker said.
The three had their plaques unveiled after their speeches. They will be hung on the distinguished alumni wall next to famous Centralians such as former White House Press Secretary James Brady and former US Senator Roland Burris.