Dennis, Stevens named SCC 2022 Distinguished Alumni

Southeastern Community College will host receptions for this year’s Distinguished Alumni honorees prior to the May 11 and May 12 SCC commencement ceremonies.

Keokuk 2021 Distinguished Alumnus, Jim Dennis, will be honored at a reception on Wednesday, May 11, at 5 p.m. on SCC’s Keokuk campus.

West Burlington 2021 Distinguished Alumnus, Serena Stevens, will be honored at a reception at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 12, in the banquet room at Burlington Memorial Auditorium.

Dennis will present the keynote speech at Keokuk’s commencement, to be held outdoors at Keokuk’s campus. Stevens will present the keynote address during West Burlington’s commencement at the Burlington Memorial Auditorium. 

A native of Keokuk, Dennis, graduated from SCC’s Keokuk campus in 1969 and went on to earn his Bachelor of Science in business from Emporia State University in 1971. He attended law school at Gonzaga University where he received his Juris Doctor in 1975. Jim and his wife, Mary, also a Keokuk native, spent a year at the University of Rhode Island where he earned a master’s degree in marine affairs. 

A member of the Iowa, Illinois and California State Bar Associations, Dennis started practicing law in California in 1976 before returning to Keokuk where he opened his own law practice.  He has maintained his general practice for over 44 years. 

Dennis was proudly involved in the Illinois Capital Case Defense Bar, where he served for 15 years. 

Jim and Mary Dennis have been very active in the community, having served on multiple boards. Jim maintained involvement with SCC over the years, and served on the SCC Board of Trustees in the 1980s. Jim assisted in the hiring process for Dr. Gene Gardner, who served as the SCC President from 1986-1996.

Jim and Mary raised three daughters and now enjoy their role as grandparents.

Serena Stevens, a native of Fort Madison, discovered her passion for fine arts at Southeastern Community College. She completed her Associate of Arts degree in 2008 and received her Associate of Science degree in 2011.  

Following SCC, she transferred to Western Illinois University and earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting in 2011.  

After WIU Stevens began exhibiting her work in both juried and solo exhibitions around the country. She was awarded the Iowa Arts Fellowship and earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in painting and drawing from the University of Iowa in 2021. 

Stevens’ work has earned solo shows and representation from galleries in New York City and has been featured in Art Forum, The New York Times, and The New Yorker magazine. She credits instructors like John Bybee for providing both knowledge and encouragement as a foundation for success.

Both pre-graduation receptions are open to the public and include hot and cold hors d’oeuvres and beverages for a free will donation.

Distinguished alumni are selected by the SCC Alumni Association board from nominations. Nominate an exceptional alumnus at The deadline for nominations is September 1.