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RPTA to host Virtual Professional Development Conference

April 6, 2021

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MACOMB, IL -- The Western Illinois University Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration (RPTA) will host its annual Professional Development Conference virtually from 8:30 a.m.-noon Friday, April 9.

The Professional Development Conference provides opportunities for current students and prospective students to learn from alumni and industry leaders. It also serves as an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the RPTA Departmental Awards recipients.

The theme of this year's conference is "Classrooms to Careers." Employment opportunities in the leisure industries are growing as the world is emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, many jobs look different now due to technological advancements and cultural changes wrought by the pandemic.

This year's conference will focus on helping students better appreciate the changing job market and what they can expect as they move from classrooms to careers. The conference will start with a keynote speech from Audrey Adamson, director for the Center for Career Preparation and Employer Engagement at WIU. Adamson will share her wisdom through a talk titled "Marketing Yourself for Today and Tomorrow's Job Market."

Alumni from a variety of leisure industries will be presenting at the virtual conference and engaging with each other and current students via a panel discussion to close the conference.

RPTA will also honor its 2021 Alumni and Departmental Awards recipients during the virtual conference. Recipients will receive awards that were generously paid for by an alumni who shared that she wanted to invest in future Leathernecks by helping sponsor the Professional Development Conference. This conference is one way RPTA celebrates WIU's rich tradition of outstanding alumni and the incredible impact their generosity has on the current and future Leathernecks.

2021 RPTA Departmental Awards Recipients:

Distinguished Alumni: Brian Tibbs, Washington Park District

Distinguished Service: Ryan Hansen
, Spring Lake Management

Graduate of the Last Decade (Graduate): Jackie Folak, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee
Graduate of the Last Decade (Undergraduate): Cody Presny, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

Developing Scholar Award: Sophomore Alexis Cunningham, of the Bahamas

Arthur F. Clayton Award: Junior Nolan Juarez Connors, of Minooka

Anita Magafas Nontraditional Student Award: Senior Matt Hoffman, of Bartlett, IL

Outstanding Senior Award: Senior Hunter Mason, of Macomb

Outstanding Graduate Student Award: Graduate student Taylor Brooks, of Chicago

For more information about the Professional Development Conference, contact RPTA Instructor Julie Eggleston at

Posted By: WIU News (
Office of University Relations