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Here are the CU Schools Foundation 2023 Distinguished Alumni honorees

The outside of a building. There is a glass door, then windows covered in a multi-colored sign that says CU Schools Foundation. There are yellow daffodils in the foreground.
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Each year, the CU Schools Foundation recognizes alumni from Champaign and Urbana schools that have gone on to do great things. They also give a Local Hero Ward to someone who devotes their volunteer time and energy to making an impact in the schools, and Local Business Community Impact Award to a business owner who graduated from Unit 4 or District 116, who has given back to the community and school districts through their business. Here are this year’s honorees. You can find their full bios at the CU Schools Foundation website.

Distinguished Alumni

  • Nichole Millage, 1995 graduate of Champaign Centennial, four time Paralympian and Project Specialist in the Champaign Public Works Department
  • Avra Jain and Anna Jain Bakst, twin sisters and 1979 graduates of Champaign Central. Bakst had a 25-year career managing and cultivating business for American fashion houses such as Kate Spade, Michael Kors and Donna Karan. Jain became a real estate developer, and received national recognition for her substantial investment in the adaptive reuse and repurposing of previously abandoned or underutilized historic properties.
  • Dr. Kendrith Rowland, a 1972 graduate of Urbana High School, Director of Cancer Research at Carle Health

Local Hero Award – Kanittha Fay, 1999 graduate of Urbana High School, volunteers on the Urbana High School PTSA Executive team which has created initiatives including Teach for Urbana, a teacher and staff appreciation program, and a Student Ambassador Program, promoting budding leaders in Urbana schools

Local Business Community Impact Award – Ragle Dental Labs, founded in 1979 by Urbana High School graduate Jerry Ragle, employed numerous Urbana High School graduates, executive officer for the Urbana Alumni Association (UAA) for over 20 years

There will be a reception for the honorees at the I Hotel on Friday, April 14th.  Doors open at 5 p.m., and the program begins at 6 p.m. Tickets will be sold in advance at

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