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Travis Panariello with Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker
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Adison Cunningham with Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker
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Adan Rodriguez and Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker
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WIU Emergency Management Alumni Recognized by Gov. Pritzker

July 31, 2020

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MACOMB, IL - - Three Western Illinois University School of Law Enforcement and Justice Administration graduates were recently recognized at a surprise ceremony by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC).

Adison Cunningham, who earned a 2019 bachelor's degree in Law Enforcement and Justice Administration (LEJA) and 2020 master's degree in Public Safety Administration; Travis Panariello, who just earned a Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management (EM); and Adan Rodriguez, who also earned a bachelor's degree in EM, were all recently hired by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, none of them were able to participate in an in-person graduation ceremony to celebrate their accomplishments.

The newly hired WIU graduates thought they were being asked to attend a new employee orientation at the SEOC; however, they were actually attending a special recognition ceremony for their recent graduation.

Representatives from all state, federal and non-governmental and military agencies gave the graduates a standing ovation as Pomp and Circumstance played over the loudspeakers, and the Jumbotron screens in the Center highlighted photos of WIU and each graduate as they walked around the room to be congratulated in-person by Gov. Pritzker and Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau.

Gov. Pritzker stated that he was proud of each of the young professionals being recognized and encouraged other young professionals to join public service, as well. He also said that he appreciated Western Illinois University for preparing students for the emergencies of today and of the future.

The SEOC acts as lead in crisis/consequence management response and operations to notify, activate, deploy and employ state resources in response to any threat or act of terrorism, as part of the IEMA.

The graduates all had good things to say about why they chose Western and their future goals in their career field.

"I chose WIU because of their strong reputation and teaching infrastructure for law enforcement-related disciplines," said Cunningham. "One highlight of my college experience was working with the Macomb Park District where I coached Special Olympic sports and worked with people with disabilities on custom tailored activities and programs."

Panariello added, "My life goals are to not only help people respond and recover from disasters, but to improve those affected communities to enhance the quality of life for those individuals."

"My future goals in EM [emergency management] are to further my career within the field of EM and build connections with all communities where these connections may be nonexistent. I want to protect the safety and health of all individuals from all hazards through resilience, preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation," echoed Rodriguez.

WIU supports a nationally ranked and recognized School of criminal justice and public safety. The School of LEJA offers Bachelor of Science degrees in Emergency Management, Law Enforcement and Justice Administration and Fire Protection Services, as well as a Public Safety Administration master's degree. The School of LEJA is ranked within the top six programs in the nation and the number one program in terms of its online program.

WIU's Emergency Management Program is unique as it was the first four-year program in Illinois to offer a B.S. degree specifically in Emergency Management and is the only EM program within the state credentialed by the Illinois Board of Higher Education. In April 2020 an entire program review of the EM curricula and program was satisfactorily completed by David A. McEntire, Ph.D., SFHEA, Dean, College of Health and Public Service at Utah Valley University and recognized expert in higher education standards at FEMA.

"The faculty have very impressive backgrounds with required degrees and diverse areas of expertise," said McEntire. "They have made substantial contributions to their discipline and/or have unique practical experience in their respective professions (e.g., FBI, Secret Service, Illinois State Police, Fire Service, Judicial System). Students are being taught by enthusiastic faculty who represent different points of view (e.g., academic vs. practical, homeland security, law enforcement, fire service, etc.)."

For more information on Western's emergency management degree, visit, and for more information on WIU's Master of Arts in Public Safety Administration, visit

Posted By: WIU News (
Office of University Relations