Spotlight on Alumni
At Triton, we seek to celebrate the success of our students and graduates! The Alumni Relations Office stays connected for life through recognition of the achievements of our alumni after leaving our gates. Each month, the success stories of our alumni will be featured in our Spotlight on Alumni series.
Richard Skelnik, 1972 graduate, Credits Triton as Foundation for Future Success
Richard Skelnik faced a number of obstacles on his path to academic and career success. As one of the first members of his family to attend college and with limited means to pursue a degree, Skelnik chose Triton College as the first step in his educational journey. Skelnik credits Triton as the baseline for his future academic and athletic success. While a student at Triton, Skelnik was an accomplished athlete and graduated with an Associate in Arts degree in 1972. He went on to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education from Eastern Illinois University where he was also an All-American wrestler in 1973 and 1974.
Skelnik has enjoyed an extensive career in Human Resources working for companies such as Rockwell and Motorola, among others, focusing on recruitment and talent acquisition. He is currently a talent acquisition consultant that assists companies with recruitment strategies, interview training, developing applicant tracking systems, and a variety of other human resources functions.
In addition to his career accomplishments, Skelnik has been recognized for his service to the community as a wrestling coach, volunteer and philanthropist. He was given the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Chairman’s Award for his fundraising and volunteer efforts in 2009 and over the last 10 years has personally raised over 1 million dollars for leukemia research. In 2013, he was inducted into the Illinois Wresting Coaches and Officials Association for 37 years of service as an athlete, coach, official and ambassador for the sport. Richard Skelnik currently resides in Arizona.
What have been some obstacles you’ve had to overcome in pursuit of your educational and career goals?
There were no role models for me in my family from an educational/academic perspective. Neither my brother, sister or cousins had graduated from college. Also, there was no college fund since my mother was a single parent, as my father passed away when I was three years old.
What have been some sources of inspiration both in your career and in your life?
The source of inspiration in my life is my mother for her drive to provide for her three children. Also, for her ability to show me how to budget, work hard and to be polite, kind, and give back to society.
Another source of inspiration was my high school and college girlfriend, Karen Ciszon. She made a great impact on my life as she taught me how to be a better student by showing me how to study and by studying with me. We attended Triton and Eastern Illinois University together.
What would you consider your strong suit to be – whether skills or qualities?
My strong suit includes my discipline to complete tasks, exercising and staying fit, my ability to make and maintain friendships, being a good practicing Catholic and being a lifetime learner who is prepared for the future.
How has Triton College impacted your life?
Triton was an educational baseline and foundation for all the future academic and athletic success that I had at EIU. Art Kraft (wrestling coach), Jim Bondi (soccer coach), Jim Harkema and Tom Crum (football coaches)and Bob Symonds (baseball coach), all befriended their student athletes and encouraged us to be great in the classroom and in our chosen sport.
What advice would you give someone who would like to pursue a career in your field?
My advice is to study, learn and acquire a lifetime mentor.
What are your words of wisdom for current Triton students?
Enjoy your time in the classroom, learn as much as possible and utilize your knowledge in future classes and in the community. Set realistic but stretch goals in all facets of your life such as school, investing, your faith, friendships, GPA and athletic accomplishments, if appropriate.
What are your plans for the future?
My future involves working maybe two more years, continuing my community service with my church and with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Also, I plan to establish more relationships and maintain/grow the ones I have with friends in Illinois, Texas, Oklahoma, Oregon, Arizona and on the east coast. In retirement, I plan to move to a beach in Southeast Asia, Costa Rica or Ecuador.