It's been a long road, some of us longer than others. And if you are wondering, I am one of the others! So, are you ready to go on my journey?
It is a pleasure to be speaking here today. I have dreamt many times of being here. Over the past two years or however long it has been for you - reflect on how much has changed.
Asra Kamal, front of house assistant for the Elgin Community College Arts Center, immigrated to the U.S. with her family from India in 1986. Despite transitioning from one country to another, going away to college proved to be one of her biggest challenges because she would be the first in her family to do so.
After high school, I left home for university life, which was very appealing at 18. I did okay my freshman year, but my second year was rough, and I was missing home. I decided not to return after a horrible academic sophomore fall semester and began working full-time at a daycare center.
My college journey started in the fall of 2015. I wasn’t sure if I would like Elgin Community College, but I thought I’d give it a try. College life hasn’t been easy for me, I am a first-generation student, so I have put pressure on myself to finish what I have started.
At Elgin Community College, I was warmly welcomed and shown how to better myself through education. I was given the opportunity to learn from outstanding professors and connect with excellent staff - their dedication and communication profoundly contributed to my overall success.
When I started college, I was nervous because I knew my classes would cover twice the material in half the time compared to what I was accustomed to in high school. On that point, my instructors did not disappoint; however, they surprised me with how well they explained the material.
Ruthann Schatz tried college once, and it didn't work out. Almost 40 years later, encouragement from her son gave her the push to give college another try. Now she's graduating with her degree and a new dream for her future.
One of ECC’s healthcare programs you see our students sporting scrubs for is the Physical Therapist Assistant Program, led by Barbara Ostrowska, PT, DPT, OCS, PTA program director. Ostrowska has been with the ECC since 2019. Take five and learn more about Ostrowska, her book recommendations, and her role as program director.
Six officers from Elgin Community College’s Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society went to Texas this past October for the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) to complete their Honors in Action course, a research and service-based class. ECC students Beth Barnes, Ely Thompson, Kelly Stoffle, Maggie Garcia, Natalie Leon, and Cole Weiler made the trip.
A native of Nigeria, Habeeb Awolumate left his family and homeland to chart a new course for his future. "For me, going to college was never really a decision. It was always in the plan, and I knew that coming to the United States to study computer science was my goal," he said.
As a child of Mexican immigrants who did not have an education past the sixth grade, Leslie Gracia was intimidated but confident in her decision to attend college. "Being the first to go to college is game-changing for my family and me. Even though it's scary going into something totally new, I know I'll end up with a good outcome," she said.
When Michael Lacala decided to enroll at Elgin Community College, it came with support from his parents, but not without some difficulties along the way. When Lacala's parents were 18 years old, they immigrated to the United States in search of a better life for themselves.
Kristina Brown graduated high school with interest in going to college but instead entered the workforce full time. Then, she received a graduation present from her uncle — a check payable to Elgin Community College for her to explore a few classes, so she did.
To Yesenia Arroyo, a black page represents a world full of possibilities. Since high school, Arroyo's passion for art, specifically charcoal and pencil drawings, inspired her desired career path. "Ever since I started high school, I wanted to be an art teacher. Art is a huge part of my life," she said.
Take five today and learn about Lesia Gemelli, director of employee benefits. Gemelli has been with ECC since 2012, right after her youngest turned one year old. “I was thrilled I could walk across campus to visit him at the onsite lab school,” said Gemelli. Before joining Elgin Community College, Gemelli worked at the Village of Palatine.
ECC culinary arts student Wilna Francios dreams of opening her own restaurant in her native Haiti one day.
At Elgin Community College, learning is a lifelong process, and recently, two Second Language professors, one from ECC and one from the Netherlands, spent two weeks together in the spirit of continuous improvement.
This week the spotlight is on Tommy Hensel, senior director of performing arts. Hensel began at ECC in February 2022 and recently received the Chicago Cabaret Presenter Award at the Chicago Cabaret 2022 Gala. Hensel has worked professionally for over 30 years as a director, actor, and arts presenter.
Elgin Community College nursing student Kwanyin Linares is not only an international student, but she is also a first-generation college student. Linares moved to West Dundee from Venezuela five years ago and began English as a Second Language (ESL) courses at ECC while pursuing her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) degree.
This week, take five with Courtney Hamill, technical enrollment facilitator. Hamill has been working at ECC since 2010, but her first experience with the college was as an ECC student! She attended ECC from 2005 to 2008 and also worked part-time in Advising.
This week, take five with one of our academic advisors, Elizabeth Herrera! Herrera has been with ECC for nearly a decade, beginning in 2014. She works specifically with ECC education students looking to transfer directly to Northern Illinois University.
Kellen Bolt, PhD, assistant professor of English. Bolt began at ECC in 2019 and teaches composition I & II and LGBTQ Literature. Bolt’s first ECC experience involved him missing the main A-B parking lot, causing him to run from one end of campus to the next to make his interview. “I’ve gotten much better at knowing my way around. If you see me, feel free to ask me for directions,” said Bolt. “I’ll either be very helpful, or you’ll get to see me stare blankly back.”
Illinois’ College and Career Pathway Endorsements (CCPE) system is one of four strategies outlined in the 2016 Postsecondary & Workforce Readiness (PWR) Act to increase the number of Illinois high school graduates prepared for college and future careers. In 2018, Elgin Community College and its four public school districts identified the development of regional college and career pathways to be a cornerstone area of focus.
This week, take five minutes to learn a little about your colleague Anthony Ramos, EdD. Ramos joined Elgin Community College in 2021 as the college’s first Executive Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI). Ramos praises the culture of EDI already in existence at ECC and uses his experience and passion toward furthering the college’s collective efforts in advancing EDI for student success.
Elgin Community College Athletics works to recruit, build, and engage student-athletes to win both in the classroom and on the court or field. The ECC athletic department supports ten sports, and behind each team is a coach who works to guide the players through the ups and downs of each season.
This week, take five minutes to learn a few unique facts about your colleague Ashley Ward, manager of student recruitment and outreach. Ward joined Elgin Community College just this past year but has worked in various higher education roles assisting adult learners, traditional students, staff training and development, and custom relationship management administration for more than ten years.
As a youth learning U.S. history, I never saw anyone who looked like me or someone with a similar background to mine highlighted within the pages of textbooks or lectures. It was not until I entered more advanced levels of history that I discovered the history of the Latinx community within the United States.
I came to the field of adult education, as many do, by accident. After completing my master’s degree, I picked up a class teaching high school equivalency (HSE) and English as a second language (ESL) as I tried to decide what my next steps were. Spoiler - I never left. I was immediately moved by the students in my high school equivalency class.
Elgin Community College performing arts student Tiana Caraballo (Streamwood) has been studying theater at ECC since she began in 2019 but has considered herself a theater kid since she was little. “I’m very lucky and appreciative that I’ve gotten to be able to carry my passion into my college studies,” said Caraballo. “It’s a part of who I am.”
National Preparedness Month is an observance each September to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time. At Elgin Community College, being ready for an emergency is a top priority to keep our students, staff, and campus safe.
This week, take five minutes to learn something we didn’t know before about Jerrmiah Wright, recruitment coordinator. Jerrmiah has worked at Elgin Community College since 2019, and this year you can also find him on the basketball court sidelines! Wright has joined the ECC women’s basketball team as their new Assistant Coach.
This week, take five minutes to learn more about our colleague Kelli Marlin. Marlin is the new Medical Assisting Program Director. She began at Elgin Community College this past year to help spearhead the brand new Medical Assisting program starting with classes this fall.
According to the Illinois Board of Higher Education, our state is a leader in transfer and graduation rates for transfer students. Due to the varying requirements at four-year institutions, transfer planning may be intimidating, but Elgin Community College provides many resources in its Student Success Center to help prepare students for transfer success.
As a student who struggled in high school, Darvin is now an honors student in the nursing program and will graduate in the fall of 2022. Darvin received support from the ECC Foundation Complete to Compete Program, which provided crucial financial support that ensured she could concentrate more on her studies and less on financial strains.
Sergio Rodriguez, ’06, knows what it’s like to be a student at Elgin Community College. Now serving as a member of the District 509 Board of Trustees, he plans to put those experiences to work on behalf of students and district residents.
As the COVID-19 pandemic persisted, mental health became a pervasive and expanding issue. The need to focus on students' mental health became more apparent as students all over the country faced a great deal of uncertainty, unexpected shifts to remote learning, and a diminished sense of community.
Elgin Community College is one of only 11 Illinois colleges awarded a state grant by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) to support a new program for certified recovery support specialists (CRSS) and certified peer recovery specialists (CPRS). The new offerings launch this fall with the IDHS grant covering the cost of tuition, fees, books, and other wraparound services, such as child care and transportation.
Elgin Community College is known for offering innovative programs that provide students with access to in-demand training and education. One area of continued growth lies in the programs celebrating a decade of progress since the construction of the health and life sciences building in January 2012.
Maryam Ebadi, a single mother living with a hereditary degenerative vision disorder, immigrated to the U.S. excited to continue working toward her dream of becoming a family counselor. After completing her GED® prep at Elgin Community College, the next step was taking placement exams at her local community college.
During Kristina Garcia’s first visit to campus, she had her mother by her side, waiting for her in the Jobe Lounge while interviewing for associate dean of communications and behavioral sciences. Garcia’s unconditional support for her family is reflected in her role as associate dean in supporting Elgin Community College faculty and students.
Thank you Dr. Gregory Robinson, and ECC faculty and trustees. It's my honor today to deliver the commencement address for my incredible fellow ECC classmates. Also, I want to welcome peers’ families, and faculty to this graduation day at Elgin Community College. Please note that each one of you has made a positive impact on each one of us who is graduating today.
I want to thank everyone for coming to graduation. I haven’t seen this many happy people in quite some time. It is humbling to be able to address and represent a group with so many different stories to tell.
When I was a high school student, I never thought I would be able to say I am vice president of student government, the social media coordinator for the Human Services Club, an Elgin Community College honors graduate, and transferring to my dream school, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Did you have a chance to stop and think about what you want from life? It might be one of the most challenging questions that someone can answer. As a mother of eight children, my immediate answer is “to be a good mom,” but a question behind that answer resonated in my mind: “How to become that good mom that my children need?” Then I realized that what I needed was to understand who I am.
Elgin Community College was a surprise in many different ways. I hadn’t considered applying here until a few weeks before school started in 2020. My future was uncertain due to the global pandemic and family complications, but ECC provided me with normalcy.
I never considered getting an education past high school was something meant for me. For ten years, I was in and out of Elgin Community College multiple times, trying different things. I reapplied to ECC one last time, and it has been one of the best academic experiences of my life.
Growing up, I was never a kid that knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. I went through phases of wanting to be a teacher, a doctor, a vet, a ballerina; all the things little girls say they want to be. It wasn’t until my high school AP biology class that I really started to fall in love with human anatomy and the medical field.
The past four years of being a student have not been easy. I started my journey in the spring of 2019, and since then, many things have changed in the world of academics.
It has been a great journey attending Elgin Community College for the last two years. ECC has allowed me to enhance not only my educational career but also my career in softball. I have played softball for the last 15 years, and I was not sure if I would be able to continue playing once I reached the collegiate level.
Between 2013 and 2022, I've changed majors eight times, been to three universities, earned an associate in science, completed over 100 credit hours, have a cumulative GPA of 2.8, earned my industrial maintenance certificate, and will start my career repairing kidney transporters. During my time at Elgin Community College, I was part of the Anime Club.
When I began my journey at Elgin Community College, graduating with my Associate in Science appeared to me like an impossible goal to achieve. I felt this way for many reasons, and it seemed that there were more reasons why I would not make it than reasons why I could.
Elgin Community College has been dedicated to supporting and consistently improving an environment where each student can find success in their educational and career pursuits by fostering a culture of equity, diversity, and inclusion. This past year, Anthony Ramos was hired as the inaugural executive director of equity, diversity, and inclusion to further sharpen the collective efforts already underway at ECC.
Community college was not only the place where I earned my first college degree, but it was also the place that opened my mind and heart to much more than I knew possible growing up. Through those early experiences at community college, I found a place where I belonged. The personal relationships and opportunities to get involved on campus influenced my future career path in such a way that I began to consider how working in higher education may be the right place for me.
Two local high school students, Mariam Laila Ali from Streamwood High School and Anthony Greco from South Elgin High School, may be lowering the average age limit for emergency responders, but they are no less qualified or dedicated to helping people. Both earned their Emergency Medical Technician certification at Elgin Community College this past year.
Samantha Friar’s department assists more than 500 ECC students in completing their degrees through various programs and resources. Outside of ECC, she finds time for some of her favorite activities, such as card games and roller skating.
Providing an equal opportunity for education is the primary purpose and passion that drive the work of Pietrina Probst, director of ADA, student access and disability services at Elgin Community College. Pietrina and her department exist to increase equity, diversity, and inclusion for students with disabilities in the classroom and around campus.
Luis Moran of Bartlett, Ill., will be the first ECC student to graduate through the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) Engineering Pathways Partnership in May. The UIIC Engineering Pathways Partnership offers a guaranteed admission option into 14 majors to qualifying students interested in transferring to The Grainger College of Engineering.
Since 2014, Diane Boldt has been assisting ECC students in finding their future as a job search developer for the Future Workforce Leaders program out of the Workforce Development and Continuing Education Division. Outside of assisting ECC students in finding their career paths, Boldt finds herself constantly on the hiking paths.
Women have been making significant contributions to society ever since people lived in caves. Unfortunately, it is not until much later in recorded history that even a small number of them are recognized, and not always for good deeds.
Kim Tarver, MPT, professor of physical therapist assistant at Elgin Community College, looks to use every avenue available to pursue equity, diversity, and inclusion. From integrating diverse case studies into her curriculum to leading the faculty union to more equitable practices, Tarver believes anyone can have an impact no matter where they sit at the table.
The world is a much-altered place than it was two years ago, and with it, we have all changed a bit along the way. Our priorities, desires, and dreams have changed; how we spend our time, money, and energy is different. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Vincent Gaddis, PhD, began teaching at Elgin Community College this past August, but he is no stranger to the campus and the work being done to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion within the classroom and community. In fact, he has been a driving force behind it.
Shawn Maxwell began as a professor of music in 2015, but his previous job teaching high school music at Geneva Community High School was what first brought him to the campus. Outside of teaching, Maxwell has his hands full raising three young girls and his backyard barn of animals!
For Professor of English Lori Clark, much of her EDI work takes place behind the scenes, but the outcomes can be seen everywhere on campus. “It’s critical that students, especially students of color and LGBTQ+ students, see themselves reflected both in the campus community and in the course curriculum.” Clark has led the way on many EDI initiatives related to gender identity and support for the LGBTQ+ community.
A person's journey into higher education can begin at any time. For some, that journey begins before they leave high school. Maggie Im is a Dual Credit Academic Advisor at Elgin Community College who works with District U-46 high school seniors taking college-level courses while completing their high school degrees.
Alison Douglas and Colleen Stribling have been working together since 2013 to build a bridge between their two departments. Their goal is to increase student success and create a system enhanced through equity, diversity, and inclusion, or EDI. This led to the creation of a Learning Community that allows students enrolled in the Advanced ESL Transitions course to simultaneously enroll in English 101 while also allowing them to forego the placement test required by the English department.
Instructor of English Chasity Gunn’s talent and passion for writing extends throughout Elgin Community College and into the community as the inaugural Poet Laureate of Elgin. Gunn began at ECC in 2019 teaching Language Arts in the High School Equivalency Program.
For Ryan Kerr, MA, associate professor of English, the need for equity, diversity, and inclusion, or EDI, is obvious. “We know there are success or equity gaps in education for certain groups,” said Kerr. “Because these things have been happening since early childhood for some, it just compounds, and since we have inequity walk in our doors at Elgin Community College, we have to do something to help with it.”
Jim Stoltman recently accepted his new role as Senior Director of Technology Services in October 2021. Having worked at Elgin Community College since 2012 in multiple positions within the IT department, Stoltman’s roots within the college run deep.
When you ask Assistant Professor of Sociology Mia Hardy, Ph.D., what she’s working on in the realm of equity, diversity, and inclusion at Elgin Community College, her excitement to share is palpable, even in on a Zoom call. Hardy has been with the college since 2016, starting as an associate dean of college transitions and developmental education. She then served as the associate dean of communications and behavioral sciences before transitioning to a full-time faculty position in 2020.
As we continue to celebrate an amazing Black History Month, it is important to amplify the importance of Black mental wellness through education and knowledge.
LaTasha DeHaan, PhD, was living out of state when she decided to take on the role of course leader in the History and Political Science department at Elgin Community College in 2019. Two years later, DeHaan continues to dive deep into pushing her department forward and mentoring her students.
When Susan Timm, Ed.D., professor of business at Elgin Community College, was honored with the YWCA Elgin's 2021 Harriet Gifford & Hattie Griffin Award for Education in recognition for her unwavering efforts related to diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice, it came as no surprise to her colleagues at ECC. If there is an equity, diversity, or inclusion effort underway at ECC, Timm likely had a hand in it.
Before Marisol Rivera, PhD, joined ECC in 2019 as a history and political science professor, she taught at Harold Washington in Chicago. “I always wanted to teach at a community college. I was very nervous when transitioning to ECC but was quickly put at ease by the people and environment here,” said Rivera.
As we celebrate Black History Month 2022, it is time to reflect on what has to be done so that all people have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When we celebrate Black History Month, people should be reminded that Black History is American History and should be celebrated 365 days a year.
Yolonda Barnes will always put her colleagues' work, intelligence, and passion ahead of her own achievements. When it comes to the movement for change surrounding equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) on campus, her humble nature remains, but her actions resonate in their impact.
Everyone at ECC, whether they are sitting in an office, conducting a lecture, or advising a student on their class schedule, has a critical role in the functioning of the college. One of those critical behind-the-scenes players is Kayla Palmisano, Institutional Research Data Specialist.
To Professor of Business Clark Hallpike, MBA, equity, diversity, and inclusion work is a lot like coaching – you put in the work and expect results. "Thinking back throughout my years at ECC, I've always had a commitment to diversity," recalls Hallpike. "In my 45 years here, the whole concept has evolved quite a bit on campus, but it's been my passion to bring cultural awareness and change concerning equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in the classroom and the community."
Tyler Roeger, Ph.D., director of the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL), may be one step removed from working directly with ECC students, but through his role in supporting faculty, creating an environment that leads with equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) is at the forefront of his work. Roeger is co-chair of ECC’s institutional committee TIDE and an administrative coach for another key institutional committee, SSI.
Since starting at ECC in 2004, Parul Raval, Ed.D., professor of education, has dedicated herself to raising the next generation of working professionals in the field. Although she is now the teacher, Raval believes learning is a never-ending quality to help us succeed in our personal and professional lives.
Manny Salgado, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology, has heard others say the complex work of equity practice is ‘something that is done badly or not done at all.' Practicing equity work is something Salgado has been involved in most of his life and throughout his 17 years at ECC. He is one of the core members of TIDE, a faculty group that embraces and welcomes mistakes made to learn from them and become better educators.
Liddy Hope has been asking herself and her school, “are we ready for them?” Meaning, is ECC ready to embrace and assist the diverse stream of learners that enter each semester seeking an education and their future career paths? Hope has made it a part of her mission to continue learning how to best do this and work with other ECC faculty and staff on sharpening efforts that are already creating positive change concerning equity, diversity, and inclusion throughout our school.