SCC Press Release

SCC Names Murphy, Upton Distinguished Alumni 2014

Southeastern Community College will honor two alumni at its upcoming commencement ceremonies in May. Author Linda S. (L. S.) Murphy is this year’s Keokuk campus Distinguished Alumna and Craig Upton will be honored by the West Burlington campus. Each honoree will deliver the commencement address at their campus’ ceremony.

Author Linda (known as L.S.) Murphy graduated from SCC’s Keokuk campus in 1995. She then attended the University of Missouri-St. Louis where she graduated Magna Cum laude.

Her debut young adult (YA) novel, Reaper, was published in January 2013. She has published two novellas: A Reason to Stay, a short contemporary romance, and “Neighbors.” She has also published “Firestorm” in UnCONventional and a horror story “The Tick-Tock Heart” in Detritus.  J. Taylor Publishing selected her to be the headline author for their YA anthology One More Day, released in December 2013. Her story is titled “The 13th Month.” Her latest book, Pixelated, will soon be released by Bloomsbury Spark.

She is a network co-representative for the Southern Illinois region of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and St. Louis Writer’s Guild.

L.S. Murphy lives in the Greater St. Louis area where she watches Cardinals baseball, reads every book she can find, and weaves tales for teens and adults. In addition, she tends to the Bean (aka her daughter), her husband, and a menagerie of pets. She maintains a blog and can also be found on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

The West Burlington Campus Distinguished Alum is Craig Upton, a 1976 graduate.

After graduating high school in 1973, Craig Upton started down the path of working non-skilled, simple jobs. All that changed when he received a pamphlet about SCC’s then-new program, Mechanical Technology in Design. Soon after, he enrolled, graduating from SCC in 1976 with an Associate of Applied Science Mechanical Technology degree. It became his ticket to a successful career in manufacturing, including stints at Winegard Co., General Electric and Caterpillar.

When Caterpillar closed its Burlington facility, Upton started KPI Concepts in his garage in 1984. Thirty years and ten expansions later, Upton’s garage business has grown to a 227,000 square foot facility.

Upton stresses that with all the technical jobs available in today’s world, SCC will be a very attractive path for students like him for years to come. “I would not be where he is today if not for SCC. It changed my life.”

With a workforce of nearly 100 employees, KPI designs and manufactures custom wood laminate check lanes, service counters, shelving, custom cabinets and accessories for retailers in the U.S., Canada and Brazil. In 2012, the company added 35,000 square feet of facility space to accommodate KPI’s entry in wind energy industry.

KPI is headquartered in Burlington, where it produces the majority of its products. “We really pride ourselves on being a U.S. manufacturer.”

While successful in business, Craig is also very much a family man. “I have three boys, and it’s been an adventure. If I could make one wish, I would wish for more time, as it does go by fast.”

Southeastern Community College will host receptions for Murphy and Upton prior to May 2014 commencement ceremonies. Murphy will be honored at a reception at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 14 at Baymont Inn & Suites in Keokuk. Upton will be honored at a reception at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 15 at Burlington Memorial Auditorium.

Both pre-graduation receptions are open to the public and include hot and cold hors d’oeuvres and beverages; cost is $15. For reservations, call the SCC Alumni Association Office at (319) 208-5062 or by May 12.

To view past honorees, visit

Candidates may be nominated for the award at The annual deadline is August 1.

For more information, contact Becky Rump at (319) 208-5065 or

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