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Lake Land College awards Adult Student of the Year

For Autumn Fain of Casey, the path to receiving her education has not been an easy one. Even though she was a straight-A student at Newton High School, she dropped out when she was 16, after discovering she was pregnant. Seven months into her pregnancy, Fain went into labor and gave birth to a baby boy who lived for only 12 days.

“After that, I did not feel as though returning to high school was the answer for me,” said Fain. 

So, she went on to earn her GED just three months later in April 1998, which was just the beginning of her pursuit for higher education.

Like many non-traditional students, Fain overcame a lot of challenges and barriers which kept her from reaching her academic and career goals early in life. But according to Cheryl Staley, business division instructor, Fain demonstrates a strong commitment to education, is involved in her community and outside of the classroom at Lake Land College, and shows great leadership skills. For these reasons, Fain was chosen as Lake Land College’s Adult Student of the Year. 

After earning her GED, Fain went on to work a variety of odd jobs and finally got her first professional job as an office assistant with Davis Accounting in Casey. Over the years, she held other positions including letter carrier for the US Postal Service and stock person for Wal-Mart. During that time, she married and had two daughters. 

Out of the blue, her husband, who was otherwise healthy, had a seizure which required her to take time off work and care for him until he was well enough to return to work himself. 

After helping her husband recuperate, Fain went on to participate in a management program at Wal-Mart, where she earned a position as assistant manager for the Terre Haute South Wal-Mart. During that time, she was responsible for managing 90 of the 400 store associates. However, after some time managing, Fain grew tired of working in retail and the direction that Wal-Mart was taking. So, she went back to Davis Accounting, where she started 13 years before. 

At that time, Fain was inspired to pursue a career, which led her to return to school at Lake Land College to earn an associate degree in accounting.

Fain is not only a full-time student, she maintains part-time employment at Dick Butler and Associates, an independent insurance agency, and also takes on the role of mother and wife. 

“After school and work, I attend my daughters' programs, cook supper and help them with their homework sometimes until 9 p.m. before I even touch any of mine,” explained Fain. “Sometimes it is difficult to balance family, work and school, but I just do my best.” 

Fain said that she was afraid to return to school after being away from it for 14 years, but that her commitment to education is stronger than ever. 

“I have not missed a day of school since returning, which either makes me nerdy or blessed that I have had to,” she said. “My performance is very important to me as I strive to maintain a 4.0 for as long as possible.  I do love to learn new things.”

Fain said that she is exceptionally committed to her schooling because she wants to set an example for her daughters. She intends to continue her education, transferring to EIU this summer to double major in accounting and finance.  

“I want to sit for my CPA and possibly my Certified Financial Planner exam, and I have not ruled out a master’s degree,” Fain said. 

Beyond her commitment to education, Fain is very involved in extracurricular activities associated with Lake Land College and her community. She is a member Phi Theta Kappa, an honorary society that concentrates on scholarship, leadership, service and fellowship; she is an active member in the Hazel Dell Church of God; she and her family sponsor a “Walk to Remember,” a benefit by St. John’s Hospital in Springfield that commemorates the lives of babies lost due to miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant death; she also regularly helps with her daughters’ activities including school sports and Girl Scouts, all the while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.  

“Anytime Autumn sets her mind to something, she’ll do it and do it well,” said her husband John. “She’s very motivated and always has been and I’m very proud of her and the example she is setting for our daughters.”

The award was given as part of Adult Week at Lake Land College, which celebrates non-traditional students for their commitment and determination to return to school after some time away, or for many, for the first time in their lives. 

Other students nominated for this honor include: Chin Liang “Kenny” Hsu, Taipei, Taiwan; Sheryle Hendry, Brocton; Megan McQueen, Charleston; Ashley Carter, Lerna; Robert Goldsmith, Mattoon; Rebecca Smith, Louisville; Ray Lewis, Charleston; Brian A. Sparr, Mattoon; Barb Beliz, Mattoon; Loxie Sanders, Carrier Mills; Shawna Enloe, Mattoon; Jacob Lachapelle, Charleston; Brian Holt, Arthur; and Bart Sturgeon, Charleston. 

To learn more about Lake Land College, visit 

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Lake Land College
5001 Lake Land Blvd.
Mattoon, IL 61938-9366
(217) 234-LAKE

Community Locations:
Eastern Region Center - Marshall, IL
Kluthe Center for Higher Education & Technology - Effingham, IL
Western Region Center - Pana, IL
Workforce Development Center - Mattoon, IL

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