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As we anticipate the May 7 announcement of the 2011 Koehler Award winner, it seemed only fitting to highlight a past Koehler recipient.
When Joel Schuler was a Lakeland student, he was president of the Inter-Greek Council and also a very involved Zeta Chi, serving as president, vice president and pledgemaster. He was a member of the choir and the band, and he participated in numerous theatre productions.
In the 31 years since his graduation, Joel has continued to stay active in the Lakeland community. He has served twice on the Lakeland College Alumni Association Board of Directors, first as the class representative in the year following graduation, and again in the late 90s when he took on the role of LCAA President for four years. In 2009, Joel received the Alumni Association's Service to the College Award, which is given to an alumnus/na who has demonstrated excellent service to the college.
Currently, Joel is bringing his leadership and enthusiasm to the Sesquicentennial Steering Committee. He is the co-leader with Lori (Sass) Kaufman '09 of the Affinity Groups division, helping to shepherd the work of six different alumni-led sub-committees (arts, athletics, church relations, Greeks, international and Mission House).
Joel's involvement in Lakeland actually pre-dates his college years. "Lakeland has played a large roll in my life for a very long time. I attended music festivals in junior high and four years of music camp in high school." Furthermore, his appreciation for the college blends rather seamlessly with his personal life. When he married Becky Johnston '85 in 2002, they came up with a generous plan. "Becky and I asked our wedding guests to give a donation to the college (our reception was at Lakeland) rather than give us gifts."
Currently, Joel is national sales manager for Infor Restaurant Systems, placing point of sales systems in fast food restaurants across the country. He is on the road nearly every week, but he always makes time to come to campus for Sesquicentennial planning meetings, alumni events and student events. In this past month alone, Joel attended "Godspell" and the Homecoming Choir and Band concert, along with a pair of Sesquicentennial meetings.
When Joel received the Alumni Award in 2009, he shared some memories of his college days that illuminate how the connections made in college can help further one's career after college. He wrote:
"There are so many meaningful experiences that I remember both from an academic perspective and my student employment. Working in the Campus Center for Dick Preuhs '65 and in the book store for Dennis Brooks '72 were some of the most rewarding. I learned a lot from Dick and Dennis, and will always appreciate the time we spent together. The summers during Weight Watchers camp or the AA banquet with 500 smoking guests, no AC or electricity, and a tornado warning are a few of the more memorable moments! It was also through Dick that I was connected to Peter Rutledge '69 when I was about to graduate. He was opening up a Burger King in Arizona. I moved there sight unseen after graduation to work for him. Without that first connection to the fast food industry, my career probably would have taken a totally different course.
"Then, there was EXTRAC (Executive Training and Communication), which I would say was the most meaningful academic experience. It was a winterim class taught by Prof. Schilcutt. There are times still today when I am doing something at work and I will remember things I learned from him in that class."
Just because you have graduated, does not mean that your Lakeland experience will end. As Joel simply states, "Lakeland is a great place." The Lakeland family, which includes people like Joel, provides a strong network of support for current students and alumni who work tirelessly to support the college and one another.
You can reach Joel to catch up at email@example.com.