Class of '14: Jesse Cler
Trustee, President, King ... BMOC
Jesse Cler, 23, just graduated from Southern Illinois University and already has a job, but maybe he can rest for a few days.
The Armstrong High School product's typical college day was probably not like yours at all.
To hit the highlights: He double-majored in agribusiness economics and plant and soil sciences; was president of his fraternity and president of the Inter-Greek Council; and served on SIU's Board of Trustees for two years, negotiating state appropriations and helping in the search for the new president, Randy Dunn.
And he was Homecoming king. (Campaign slogan: "Let's Be Clear, Vote for CLER!")
The king didn't have much time for a queen.
"I couldn't have done it all if I'd had a (steady) girlfriend," he says.
Maybe his new job will require fewer hours. He will work in marketing at West Central, Inc., a farm chemical company in Willmar, Minn.
His father, Terry Cler, says he's surprised his son went with the crop side of agricultural.
The Cler family was long in the farm business, and still live on the farmstead.
"When it came to the farm, he was a little bit more about chasing critters around than anything else," he said.
That included making an exhaustive study of frogs.
But the graduate has made his own way ever since.
"He's very independent," Dad says. "He sometimes resists advice, but he has done very well — he's his own man."
An SIU dean who worked closely with Cler agrees.
Andy Morgan, the acting associate dean of students as well as the campus' point man with the Greek system, calls Cler "a man of character and a leader."
"He does what's right, and expects other people to do the same. He will hold himself accountable and others accountable" if they don't follow through on commitments, Morgan said.
Cler showed his leadership on the board of trustees, Morgan said, speaking about and voting on important issues such as fees and hiring.
Morgan noted that Cler was a finalist for the Service to Southern Award, the top honor to a graduating senior, for his community work.
Among his service activities were Adopt-A-Spot, supporting wheelchair basketball and football, the Illinois Farm Bureau's Ag in the Classroom program and Relay for Life against cancer.
The Carbondale campus' wheelchair teams were often small enough that Cler and others joined in the games themselves, a happy memory for the graduate.
Cler said he was given a lot of help himself.
He says the Champaign County Farm Bureau was one of several organizations that smoothed his path through college.
"I'm looking forward in my career to paying it forward," he said.