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HCC is tobacco free starting June 1

New policy takes place June 1, 2015

Heartland is committed to fostering a healthy and productive environment for all students, faculty, staff, vendors, volunteers, and visitors.

A 2006 Surgeon General’s report determined there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke and the National Cancer Institute estimates at least 65,000 deaths per year are directly linked to the exposure of secondhand smoke. 

We recognize individuals who are of age can use tobacco products on their own accord.  However, out of respect for others and the environment and in compliance with the Smoke Free Campus Act (110 ILCS 64), the College believes this policy is in the best interest of all individuals who are part of the College community.

What “tobacco free” means

For Heartland, being tobacco free means the campus is free from use of all tobacco products including:

  • Cigarettes
  • Cigars
  • Pipes
  • Beedies
  • Clove cigarettes
  • Smokeless tobacco
  • Dip
  • Chew
  • Snuff
  • Snus

Restrictions also include any other smoking products that appear to be a cigarette or electronic cigarette and any other non-FDA approved nicotine delivery device or product.

Tobacco use on campus is prohibited

Use of tobacco is not allowed on College property, including any HCC facilities or vehicles owned or leased by the College.

The tobacco free policy does not include personal motor vehicles.

All tobacco products in use must be properly disposed of prior to entering any College property or exiting a personal vehicle.  Littering the remains of tobacco products or any other related waste product on College property is also prohibited.

Get help to quit

If you’re ready to kick the habit of smoking, help is available.

Students: Contact Faye Freeman-Smith at faye.freemansmith@heartland.edu

Employees: Contact Hannah Renner at hannah.renner@heartland.edu 


Unit 5 Laptop Distribution

Unit 5 6th-12th grade parents and students can pick up their laptops at Heartland Community College.

Date: Wednesday, August 5 and Thursday, August 6
12:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Astroth Community Education Center (building 10 on the map)

What to bring

Make sure you have a form of identification like your drivers’ license or school ID. Laptops are only distributed to students or parents/guardians.

What to expect

Unit 5 staff will be available to help you log in and test your computer. You can also take a quick tour of Heartland’s campus while you wait for your laptop.

Information will be available from:

  • Heartland Community College
  • Comcast
  • Dell
  • Frontier
  • Microsoft
  • Unit 5

Visit their tables to learn how they can contribute to a successful school year.

Where to park

The easiest places to park are in lots P, O and Q.

Connect Transit will also drop you off at the laptop distribution location in the Astroth Community Education Center.

For more information on the Unit 5 rental laptop distribution, visit unit5.org.

2015 graduation speaker knows about persistence

Driven to succeed

Thanks to his experience at Heartland, John Bierbaum is “living the dream.”

“I have no bad days. Every day I get to wake up and do what I love to do …teach at my alma mater with those who inspired me.”

Bierbaum is a teacher at Normal West high school and the recipient of Heartland’s 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes a person’s career achievements, community involvement and demonstration of Heartland values.

A determined individual, Bierbaum has had a life full of achievements. He was captain of the football team at Normal West, a presidential scholar when he started Heartland in 2001 and most recently, a finalist for Illinois Teacher of the Year (2013-14).

All are notable achievements, but perhaps the one that stands out the most is his persistence after being injured in a serious accident.

A major setback

It was September, 2001. Bierbaum had just started his first year at Heartland and set high goals for himself.

“I was ready to live up to the expectations of being a presidential scholar,” he said. “I knew I wanted to be a teacher and I was driven to graduate on time. The field is competitive and I didn’t have time to waste.”

One day, Bierbaum was helping his dad clear brush in the country. At one point, Bierbaum had a large limb he wanted to burn. He threw the limb over his shoulder and approached the pit. As he was getting ready to toss it in, the side of the pit collapsed and he fell in.

The next moments happened quickly. “I didn’t have much time to think,” Bierbaum recalled. “My body immediately went into shock; it was fight or flight.”

The pit was not a raging fire, but contained extremely hot coals that had been burning for a long time. Bierbaum landed in what he describes as praying position. To escape, he put his left hand on the coals and lifted himself out of the pit. When he got out, his hand was severely burned. What he would later find out is that his hand was only part of the problem.

Bierbaum was taken to Bromenn hospital in Bloomington. The emergency staff cut off his jeans and discovered his legs had taken the brunt of the accident. Bierbaum had third-degree burns and it was life threatening.

“I honestly didn’t know the extent of my injury,” Bierbaum said. “My body was still in shock. I could feel the heat but I couldn’t really feel any pain.”

Thirty percent of Bierbaum’s body had third-degree burns. Bromenn immediately sent him to the burn unit at Memorial hospital in Springfield. Within a day, he underwent major surgery where surgeons borrowed skin from other parts of his body and did skin graphing. It would be a week before Bierbaum could even move again.

The whole ordeal was not only physically challenging, it was an emotional setback for Bierbaum.

“There I was, just starting to settle in to the next phase of my life,” he said. “I was starting to feel like a college kid and all I could think about was how my life would be impacted and what I couldn’t do anymore.”

Bierbaum spent two and half weeks in the hospital and underwent intense rehab. After missing so much school, he started to wonder if Heartland would let him come back. He then feared he would lose his scholarship.

This was never the case. His Heartland family rallied and offered full support for keeping him on track.

Moving forward

More than anything, Bierbaum wanted to get back to his normal routine and school. He made contact with his professors and to his surprise, not one of them suggested he sit out a semester.  They told him they would work with him to get back on track. So, Bierbaum returned to school in October 2001, just a few weeks out from being in the hospital.

Bierbaum said his instructors didn’t change their expectations when he came back. They offered support and expected he move forward.

A return to school wasn’t easy, but Bierbaum fondly recalls a conversation he had with Glen Bush, distinguished professor of English. “He always put life into perspective. He said to me, ‘You got burned. That’s life changing. Now what?’ He’s not one to waste time on a setback.”

With that, Bierbaum didn’t let any setbacks get in the way of his goal to finish school and live up to presidential scholar expectations. With the scarring on his legs, he had to wear a burn garment suit lined with silicone for 23 hours a day. It was uncomfortable and sweaty. He also had to go through several hours of dressing and wrap his legs every day. If that weren’t enough, sometimes his scars would bleed through his clothes while he was in class.

“I had to persist through,” he said. “I owed it to the community to do my best. There were so many people rooting for me and I didn’t want to let anyone down. I also didn’t want to waste my scholarship opportunity because there were a lot of other kids who wanted that scholarship.”

Going  back to school helped Bierbaum get a sense of normalcy back. Talking about his accident also helped. “I needed to talk about my scars and bleeding,” said Bierbaum. “It was troubling for me.”

Professor of Nursing, Barbara McLaughlin-Olson, let him do just that. Bierbaum spent time in her classes giving a patient’s perspective from the hospital. He would check in with the class throughout his whole recovery process and found it to be very productive and helpful.

With his determination and the full support of his professors, Bierbaum graduated in 2003 with an Associate in Arts, right on time.  He went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in social science education and Master of Science degree in history from Illinois State University. Bierbaum is currently returning to ISU to complete their Doctorate in Teaching and Learning Program.

He has a host of other accomplishments. In addition to being a finalist for Illinois Teacher of the Year and recipient of HCC’s Distinguished Alumni Award, Bierbaum often initiates a number of projects unique to Normal West, including working with students to create an archive for the school. He also serves as a team captain for the McLean County Diversity Project, which educates residents on the value of diversity within a community.

It’s obvious Bierbaum’s determination and persistence paid off. He recognizes that he could not have done it without Heartland, noting that the care and compassion from Heartland changed his life.

Bierbaum is also proud of the fact he has taught dual credit history classes at Normal West for Heartland and has worked with some of his former professors. “I feel like I’ve come full circle being in touch with former HCC supporters,” he said. “You never know where life will take you.”