Chicago – When Lupe Cotto was laid off at age 50 and decided to go back to college to retrain, she never imagined she would have a Mother’s Day like this one. Lupe will be graduating on Saturday from Daley College, one of the seven City Colleges of Chicago, only one day after her own daughter, Nicole, graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University.
The mother-daughter team supported each other through the ups and downs of college, including frantic 2 a.m. phone calls when challenging homework and grueling finals schedules were getting the best of them. They have inspired each other by studying together and strategizing about solutions to their challenging projects.
Lupe, a mother of three, knew she needed to gain new skills before she could re-enter the workforce after a devastating layoff from an administrative job she had held for nine years. She began taking a few courses in Daley’s continuing education program and, with the support of her daughter, made the decision to study for her certification and associate degree in accounting. She saved up to $40,000 by taking her first two years of college at City Colleges of Chicago.
“We are really happy having gone through this experience together, and we couldn’t have done it without each other,” says Lupe Cotto, mother and graduating member of the City Colleges of Chicago Class of 2012. “I was nervous about going to school at my age, but my daughter was there at every step to support me and we worked hard together to achieve our goals.”
Lupe is among the 3,300 students graduating from City Colleges on Saturday, May 12th, an increase of 800 from 2011 and double the number of graduates a decade ago. The expected record number of graduates in 2012 is due in part to CCC’s Reinvention initiative, which places new emphasis on encouraging timely completion of a degree. The number of advisors at City Colleges already has been doubled, bringing the advisor-student ratio from 920:1 to 450:1 and helping ensure students have clearly defined academic and professional goals.
Lupe plans to attend one of three local universities where she will complete a Bachelor’s Degree in accounting and, afterwards, she hopes to open her own business. Nicole will receive a Bachelor’s Degree in anthropology and has begun researching out-of-state institutions to continue her graduate studies in anthropology. She dreams of serving as a catalyst for social justice in underdeveloped countries.
“Graduation is a huge milestone for us,” says Nicole, 21. “We really are each other’s inspiration.”