January 10, 2017

CARTERVILLE — Mothers have been known to nag their children from time to time.

Maybe it’s to clean their room or take out the trash, and if mothers are persistent long enough, most of the time, they get their way.

For 27 years, Bernice Isaacs never let up on her son, Scott. She, too, finally scolded him into action.

It didn’t matter that Scott, a Marion resident, started working in management for John and Mary Moreland at McDonalds when he was a teenager. It also wasn’t sufficient that Scott passed the test to become a state trooper, eventually rising to the rank of master sergeant within the Illinois State Police. What Bernice wanted most was for her son to complete his college degree.

“I’d say, ‘Mom, I’ve been promoted again,’ and she’d say, ‘yeah, but do you have that degree completed yet?’” Scott said. “She never let it go.”

So in his final year with the Illinois State Police, Scott, who retired in December, decided to surprise his mother and give her the greatest birthday present of her life.

“I’ll never forget that day,” Scott said. “As a son, to see that look on my mother’s face, it’s something you’ll never forget. But it would have never been possible without John A. Logan College.”

Scott read a poem to his mother giving hint that he had gone back to John A. Logan College and completed his degree before she opened an over-sized box that contained his diploma.

“I had no idea he was doing this for me,” Bernice said. “We talk everyday, but this is something he kept from me. I wondered sometimes why he was so busy on Thursday nights.”

Let’s go back a few years: Scott graduated from high school in 1985. After graduation, he went to work for McDonalds and took classes at John A. Logan College.

“I’ll be honest, I liked making money more than I liked going to class,” Scott said. “But I was keeping up with both working and school pretty well.”

Then Scott learned that the Illinois State Police was testing for new troopers. He had enough college credits to test, but not enough to earn a degree. He decided to test and was hired in December of 1989. His worked his entire career in Southern Illinois.

Despite his success and despite his promotions, his mother often asked, “How’s your degree coming along?”

Finally, last year, a year before he would retire, Scott had a conversation with Michelle Hamilton, director of corporate training at John A. Logan College. Scott asked her if she could help him figure out what it would take to complete his degree.

Hamilton jumped into action. She had conversations with others at the College and Scott’s transcript was inventoried.

As it turned out, Scott only needed one class, a psychology class. He enrolled in Tom Cardwell’s Thursday night psychology class “and loved it.

“I have to admit, at first, it was weird walking into class with other students young enough to be my children,” Scott said. “Then when the class started, I really enjoyed the instruction and my classmates.

“I just have to say thank you to John A. Logan College and the commitment of its employees because without it, I may never have made my mother’s dream for me come true,” Scott smiled.