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The Jefferson College Faculty Senate recently selected State Representative Elaine Gannon of DeSoto as Jefferson College’s 2018 Alumnus of the Year. She was recognized during the College’s annual Honors Recognition Ceremony and also during the 53rd annual commencement ceremonies held on May 19.
Gannon is grateful to receive the Jefferson College Alumnus of the Year award, saying “My biggest accomplishment in life is the path I took in order to receive my college diploma. I grew up the youngest of 11 children. My dad worked in the mines and mom was a stay at home mom. We did not have a lot of money, but we always had clean clothes and food. We never had a car and we never owned a house. Education was a priority in our family. Mom had an 8th grade education and dad had a 10th grade education. We were taught to work hard and make decent grades. My mom passed away a month after my high school graduation.
“The plan was that I would move to DeSoto and live with my brother and sister-in-law, John and Sue Freeman, and attend Jefferson College. I qualified for financial aid and I had a job on campus working in the Library. Needless to say, Jeffco was a great influence on my life, especially after dealing with the loss of my mother. I received a good education and was mentored by great teachers. Most importantly, I was able to get an affordable education. I also met my husband, Dennis, at Jeffco!”
Rep. Gannon represents parts of Jefferson, St. Francois, and Ste. Genevieve counties (District 115). She was born in Bonne Terre and raised in Bismarck.
After graduating from Bismarck High School, she earned an Associate degree from Jefferson College, a Bachelor of Science in Education from Southeast Missouri State University, and a Master’s in Education from Southwest Missouri Baptist University. She spent 32 years teaching junior high physical education and coaching in the DeSoto Public Schools. From 1978-2000, she taught swimming lessons during the summer months for the DeSoto Parks program and was the director of the parks program from 1989-2000.
She was elected to her first two-year term in the legislature in November 2012. During her first year in office, she was elected as freshman class president by her legislative peers and continues to hold that position today. In 2014, she received the Missouri Community College Association Distinguished Legislative Award for her advocacy for education.
Gannon is a member of the DeSoto Chamber of Commerce, the Jefferson County Library Board, the Jefferson County Republican Club, and the NRA. She also belongs to Get Healthy DeSoto and chaired its Christmas Home Tour Committee. She attends First Baptist Church in DeSoto.
Elaine and her husband, Dennis, have two sons, Andrew and Jason.
Alumnus of the Year Award recipients must have graduated from Jefferson College with a certificate or associate degree, achieved distinction in his/her chosen field of employment, been involved in community service; and not presently serve as a trustee or an employee of Jefferson College.