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City Colleges of Chicago Celebrates 2016 Graduating Class with Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Graduates of City Colleges of Chicago are getting ready to head off to in-demand careers or transfer to four-year colleges after receiving their associate degrees April 30th at the 2016 City Colleges of Chicago commencement ceremony at the UIC Pavilion. Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan delivered the keynote address to the more than 1,800 graduates and 8,000 guests gathered for the occasion. Arne Duncan is currently Managing Partner at Emerson Collective– a philanthropic endeavor headed by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. 

“On behalf of the entire city I want to congratulate today’s graduates on their incredible achievements, and recognize the hard work and dedication it took to get here,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Every graduate has earned something of tremendous value – a quality education that will propel them to a lifetime of better opportunities.”   

“I know that getting to graduation day at City Colleges is tough, but worth it,” said Cheryl Hyman, City Colleges Chancellor and – along with Northwestern University and the Illinois Institute of Technology – a graduate of Olive-Harvey College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago. “Whether after finals you are stepping into the job market or getting ready to transfer for your bachelor’s degree – and many of you will do both – today is an achievement you should be proud of. But, it is just a first step.”   

Since Chancellor Cheryl Hyman launched a Reinvention to refocus the institution on both student access and success, City Colleges has more than doubled both its graduation rate and number of degrees awarded annually.    

Each of the seven City Colleges selected a valedictorian with an inspiring story of success. The 2016 Valedictorians met with Keynote Speaker Arne Duncan prior to the ceremony to discuss their career and educational goals. 

    • Kennedy-King College: Andrianna Hicks – Andrianna was always motivated to go to college thanks to a strong support system provided by her parents. She enrolled at Kennedy-King College to help get a taste of college life before moving on to a larger four-year university.  Andrianna was accepted at both Roosevelt University and the Illinois Institute of Technology, where she was awarded the school’s Presidential Scholarship, which provides $25,000 a year in tuition assistance to recipients. She plans to major in chemical and biomolecular engineering.

    • Olive-Harvey College:  Olajumoke “Jummie” Arogundade – “Jummie” Arogundade was full-time homemaker and mother when she moved to America with her husband. Despite having a microbiology degree from a university in her homeland of Nigeria, Jummie knew getting a degree from an American institution was the only way to compete in the U.S. workforce.  At Olive-Harvey, Jummie was able to pursue her education while balancing her other responsibilities, first earning her GED and then progressing to credit classes. Olajumoke is graduating from Olive-Harvey’s child development program and will start at either Governors State University or National Lewis University to get her bachelor’s degree in social work.

    • Malcolm X College: Qiao Liu – After marrying in 2010, Qiao left her job as a computer skills teacher in China to join her husband in the United States. Due to the language barrier, she was fearful of leaving the house without her husband to translate. After she enrolled in ESL classes through City Colleges, her English skills improved, as did her confidence to continue her education. After completing her ESL certification, Qiao began taking credit classes and she was accepted into the radiography program at Malcolm X College. Qiao is graduating with an associate of science degree and will start her career as an X-ray technologist at area hospitals.

    • Truman College: Sean Devaney – A poor student in high school, Sean dropped out and entered the workforce before eventually getting his GED. After several jobs, he realized he wanted a job that offered a career with advancement opportunities, and for that he needed a college education. Sean followed his passion for cars and fixing things, starting in the automotive technology program at Truman College. While he loved the automotive classes, he was apprehensive about the general education courses, like English, that had given him trouble in high school. However, the study habits he gained in his automotive classes helped him in his other classes, too. With his associate degree in hand, Sean plans to continue taking business classes through City Colleges of Chicago so he can progress up a management chain.

    • Wilbur Wright College: Rachel Weaver – Rachel always planned on going to college and was encouraged to consider City Colleges of Chicago by her grandmother, a former employee who thought Rachel would thrive there. Like many students, Rachel was pleased with the affordability of Wright College. She also appreciated how engaged her teachers were in helping her succeed. Even though her father was a doctor and her mother is a nurse, Rachel is going to take a slightly different career path. During the summer of 2015, Rachel started working with animals after surgery at PAWS Chicago. She’s been gaining career experience in that position since graduating in December. She will be starting a bachelor’s program in the fall before she eventually heads to veterinary school.

    • Richard J. Daley College: Lizet Martinez – Despite always being a good student, Lizet lacked direction after high school, but she had the strong encouragement of her parents to pursue her education. To save money and explore her interests, she chose Richard J. Daley College. A former dual enrollment student in high school, Lizet utilized Daley’s Career and Transfer Centers to help define her goals. Her advisors helped her find a career focus in interdisciplinary health.  Upon completing at Daley, Lizet will be working as a research assistant at Northwestern University before starting her bachelor’s degree program at either UIC or UIUC.

      • Harold Washington College: Josephine Frempong – Planning to become a surgeon in her native Ghana, Josephine believed that a degree from an American university would provide her many more opportunities than a degree from her home country. Having only visited one city in America – Chicago – Josephine started researching affordable college options for international students. She found Harold Washington College to be her best option. At Harold Washington, she enjoyed the smaller class sizes and utilized the Transfer Center to find the best four-year college options. With help, she found a transfer match at Trinity College in Connecticut – known as one of the “Little Ivies.” Josephine plans to finish her undergraduate studies and hopes to reach her ultimate goal of attending Harvard Medical School.

About City Colleges of Chicago

City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) is the largest community college system in Illinois and one of the largest in the nation with 5,500 faculty and staff serving 100,000 students annually at seven colleges and six satellite sites. The seven colleges include: Richard J. Daley College, Kennedy-King College, Malcolm X College, Olive-Harvey College, Harry S Truman College, Harold Washington College and Wilbur Wright College. City Colleges also oversees: the awardwinning Washburne Culinary Institute, the French Pastry School, the Parrot Cage Restaurant at South Shore Cultural Center, the Sikia Banquet Facility, five Child Development Centers, the Workforce Academy, the public broadcast station WYCC TV Channel 20 and radio station WKKC FM 89.3. Under the leadership of Chancellor Cheryl Hyman, the City Colleges of Chicago is in the midst of a Reinvention, a collaborative effort to review and revise CCC programs and practices to ensure students leave CCC college-ready, careerready and prepared to pursue their life's goals. Since the launch of Reinvention, City Colleges has awarded the highest number of degrees in its history and doubled the graduation rate.

Keywords: City Colleges of Chicago, Daley College, Education, Harold Washington College, Kennedy King College, Malcolm X College, Olive Harvey College, Truman College, Wright College

Posted in Education

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