50 Influencers: Bryan Drew, precedent of community connection

 INA, Ill. (June 17, 2017) - “Homegrown” is an idea that permeates the history of Rend Lake College. The college has seen former students transition into professors, coaches, staff members and even a president. More than a few such examples have appeared in this series, each helping shape RLC in their own way.

This week’s 50 influencer is no exception. 

Benton native Bryan Drew first came to the Ina campus as a distinguished student and a noteworthy golfer.

An All-Region XXIV honoree, Drew never was a medalist during his Juco career but was runner-up four times. The golf team won six of 13 tournaments and ascended to its first-ever No. 1 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) ranking in any sport. Academically, Drew was recognized for his outstanding GPA and work inside the classroom. Drew was named RLC co-‘Student Athlete of the Year,’ sharing the honor with Roby Houghlan (Herrin).

The Class of 95 graduate was inducted, along with his team, into the RLC Sports Hall of Fame thanks to the key role he played on the Men’s Golf Team which finished as runner-up in the NJCAA Division II National Championships.

Bryan Drew Mug LightenedBryan Drew

Following his time at RLC, Drew went on to play golf for St. Louis University and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in History. Following his undergraduate degree, he moved on to graduate from the Saint Louis University School of Law. He received his license to practice law in the State of Illinois in 2000. But, he never forgot his roots or the importance of RLC in not only his life but that of his family.

“Myself, my mom, my dad and my brother all got our start with college at Rend Lake,” Drew said during the Rend Lake College Foundation’s 2012 Annual Dinner.

“We all went there under different circumstances, but all got the start we needed to move forward. My father was the first in his family to go to college and so was my mother in her family. So, Rend Lake made a lot possible for our family. It’s important to our family to give kids the good beginning to college that we all had.”

The Drew family has also put action to those words, earning the RLCF’s Bronze Major Gift Award for their support of RLC students, including the John D. and S.L. Cookie Drew Scholarship. The scholarship honors Drew’s mother, who lives in Benton, and the memory of his father, John D. Drew, a longtime Benton Attorney who passed away in 2009.

“He thought a great deal of Rend Lake,” Bryan said of his father. “This is a small way for our family to make sure the name John D. Drew continues to help people like the man did when he was alive.”

Drew has made a lasting impact with the college in more ways than as a student-athlete and Foundation benefactor.

He came back.

He joined his father in 2000 at the family-based firm Drew & Drew, P.C. Attorneys-at-Law and has been at the firm ever since. The firm specializes in criminal defense, personal injury, employment law, divorce, custody and civil litigation.

It was from that platform that Drew got the call on Nov. 16, 2005 that he was appointed to fill the RLC Board of Trustees seat vacated by another Benton resident, Courtney Cox, after his resignation.

Following his appointment, Drew was then elected to the board in 2007 and again in 2013. During his time on the board, he served three years as chair, a position he occupied during the last change in the RLC President’s Office.

He also acted as the keynote speaker during Rend Lake College’s 45th Annual Commencement Ceremony.

Drew resigned from the board during his third year as chair to devote more time to family and work obligations.

“I have enjoyed helping the college during my term on the Board, through what have been trying economic times in Illinois,” Drew said at his final board meeting. “The President and administration have done an excellent job and I believe the Board has placed an excellent group of individuals in charge of the college. It has been my pleasure to work alongside President (Terry) Wilkerson and my fellow Board members, and I look forward to seeing Rend Lake College continue to grow and provide a great education to the people of Southern Illinois.”

Wilkerson thanked Drew for his service, “We certainly appreciate everything Bryan has done for Rend Lake College in his time on the board. He has a true love of this college and enjoys seeing it grow and succeed. It’s been a real benefit to have him on our Board.”

Yet, Drew stepping away from the Board of Trustees didn’t signal an end to his relationship with the college.

In May of 2014, the board appointed him as Board Attorney to help the college navigate all legal matters.

It’s a testament to the impact of the college, the dedication former Warriors display towards future generations of RLC graduates. Drew is an embodiment of that through his family’s giving to scholarships, the decisions he made while on the board of trustees and his continued service as the college’s legal counsel.

Through the service of outstanding community members like Drew, the college hopes to cultivate more “homegrown” leaders who display the same resolve to better the lives of those around them.

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