Alumni Spotlight

Kristen Ziman
Kristen and Neal


Kristen earned her second Master’s Degree. She graduated from the Naval Postgraduate School with a Master of Arts in Security Studies, Homeland Security and Defense. During her graduation ceremony, she also received the Curtis H. Straub Achievement Award which is presented to a student in each graduating class whose leadership, integrity, vision and intellectual courage are a cut above the rest. Congratulations, Chief Kristen Ziman, MA!


SD129 graduate Eric Whitaker was named the US Ambassador to Niger in December. He is a product of the SD129 school system and funds a scholarship to help North Aurora graduates of 129 attend a 4-year Illinois school.


Eric P. Whitaker Scholarship Fund

This scholarship is funded by Eric P. Whitaker, who received support from the then-Aurora Foundation in 1974 to attend the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.  He seeks to support others from the small village of North Aurora who graduate from West Aurora High School to develop themselves as citizens and professionals through full-time higher education obtained at a four-year institution within the State of Illinois.  The fund would provide $1000 per year for two years of schooling in good standing.

Eric, born in DeKalb, Illinois, grew up on the campus of Northern Illinois University, where he attended the University’s laboratory school.  He subsequently attended North Aurora Elementary School, George Washington Junior High School, and West Aurora High School.

After graduating from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Science degree in general biology and an MS in community health education, Eric served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines, working in community health.  After receiving an MPA from the University of Pittsburgh, he served as Assistant to the City Manager in Lodi, California for six years before joining the Department of State to serve as a Foreign Service Officer.

Having served in four regions (Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East), Eric now is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service and is acting Deputy Secretary of State for African Affairs at the Department of State in Washington, DC.  He speaks six languages, earned an MPP degree at the Wilson School at Princeton University, and has earned thirteen superior and meritorious honor awards from the Department of State, as well as the Department of Defense’s Meritorious Civilian Honor Award.

The purpose of this scholarship fund is to support those students – one boy and one girl each year – from North Aurora who seek to attend one of Illinois’ fine public universities.  Recognizing that higher education costs are very high, even for in-state students attending public universities, the fund aims to reduce barriers to college entry and graduation while lessening future debt burdens.


If you would like to donate, please click here!


Wendell Minor Street Dedication
May 29, 2019

Corner of Commonwealth and New York St. 

Wendell Minor

The Norman Rockwell Museum held its Summer Celebration last Saturday evening June 9, and officially named Aurora native Wendell Minor the 2018-2019 Artist Laureate.  Attached are photos from the event for you to share and/or publish.  The sculpture was designed by Norman’s son, Peter.  Pictured during the presentation are, left to right, Laurie Norton Moffatt, museum director; Wendell; 5-time Caldecott Medalist Jerry Pinkney, honorary chairman; and author David McCullough, guest speaker, Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, and one of Wendell’s closest colleagues.