2015 Valedictorian - Dontea Williams, Associate of Applied Sciences
Dropping out of school at 17, the odds were stacked against Dontea to succeed. After being laid off from his carpentry job, Dontea knew his best chance at success and a career was by going back to school. It wasn’t an easy transition. Having been out of the classroom for nearly two decades, Dontea was definitely not used to being in an academic environment. Thankfully for him, his problems in high school were always more about ambition than ability. Passing his GED, Dontea didn’t want to stop. He knew not having an education made life harder. He wanted that chance to live an easier lifestyle.
Enrolling at Kennedy-King College, Dontea felt right at home. He was surrounded by professors who cared and other students willing to engage and help him. From his first day, he thought he had entered a family environment. It was this environment that truly helped foster Dontea’s ambition. He admits that he started at KKC intending to get a certificate. It was the people he met and the things he learned that made him want to keep going.
Equipped with an associate in applied science, he will transfer to the Illinois Institute of Technology to double major in industrial techonology and management and sustainable energy. He hopes to run his own consultancy firm, bringing sustainable energy initiatives into Chicago businesses.
2015 Salutatorian - Mary Wilson, Associate in General Studies
Wilson always hoped to go to college. After having a son at 17, she quickly
realized she couldn’t be a student and a mother to a newborn at the same time.
She started working, and saving as much money as possible. As her son grew, she
knew she had the opening to get the education she always wanted.
found starting at Kennedy-King College to be a stressful environment at first.
The nerves and anxiety made her doubt if she was ready for such a big decision.
Thankfully, Mary has always been determined to be the best. Using determination
as a driver, Mary didn’t want to succeed. Mary wanted to be the best she could
possibly be. Even though her personal life made things difficult at times, her
choice of schools was one of the biggest reasons she was able to manage
everything. Her professors worked with her when deadlines interfered with real
life. She used college resources like the Transfer Center whenever she didn’t
know what her next step should be. The reason she’s in such an amazing position
now is because of the amazing support Kennedy-King has given her.
will be transferring to Chicago State University to study business
administration. Despite this, she says her true passion is social work. When
she is armed with her bachelor’s degree, she plans to marry her education and
her passion working in a Chicago social services facility.
2014 Valedictorian-Channel Clanton, Associate in Arts
• GPA: 4.0; member of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK); was an honor roll student at Hyde Park H.S.
• Is married with four children ages 9, 14, 15 and 16.
• Channel will pursue dual bachelor’s degrees at Robert Morris College in the fall, majoring in Applied Health & Sciences and accounting, plans to become a surgical nurse. Also plans to sit for the C.P.A. exam as she is interested in the business side of health care.
• She has enough credits (80-plus) to earn her bachelor’s degree in one year. She credits her advisor with helping her to get on track by deciding on a major and mapping out her career pathway, including taking the right classes in the right sequence.
• Works nights, full-time, as the manager of security at a nursing home.
• She takes care of her mom, who suffers from a debilitating auto-immune condition, which caused Channel, who considers herself a “nurturer” by nature, to closely examine a nursing career.
• Channel’s epiphany: “I didn’t know what I was capable of or what I was lacking until I came to Kennedy-King. I didn’t know if I was good enough to cut it at the college level; I’d been beaten down so low by naysayers and haters. My husband and the supportive people that I encountered at KKC, helped me to build healthy esteem.”
2014 Salutatorian-Lashanda Howard, Associate in Arts
• GPA 3.95, member of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), 2012 executive member of PTK, Spanish and math clubs.
• Completed her requirements in December; has been accepted at UIC; will begin studies there in the fall. She will pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science.
• Was hired part-time in March by KKC’s IT Office. Will work there part-time while earning her degree from UIC.
• She is a single mom of three children, ages 3, 10 and 12. Credits her parents’ support with helping her attain high marks in school. She and her family live at home with her parents whose help has proven to be invaluable in allowing her to focus on studying and attending classes.
Nebolisa Agupusi, Associate in Science
• GPA: 3.91; pursuing a pharmacy degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago; was admitted to Midwestern, Rosalind Franklin and Chicago State universities, as well.
• Originally from Nigeria; Nebolisa came to the U.S. to pursue his college education.
• He played soccer at KKC on an athletic scholarship and received citation from his coach for his academic excellence.
•Planning on pursuing a career in pharmacy research.
• Favorite subjects are math and chemistry. He has taken classes at Olive Harvey and Daley. His CCC experience has been a good one. “My classes were not challenging because I put in the time and am serious about my education,” he said.
Darlene Cook, Associated of Applied Science, Criminal Justice/Public Policy
• GPA: 3.76; member of Phi Theta Kappa; has been accepted at National Louis University, where she will earn a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
• Runs her own social services agency that provides housing and re-entry support for ex-offenders—Operation H.E.L.P.
• She attempted college as a young adult and didn’t finish. She considered herself a failure and didn’t want to attempt it again. Once she got pass that hurdle, she became an over-achiever, hence all the certificates.
• Has overcome numerous health challenges—open heart surgery, an erupted appendices. Suffers from spinal stenosis, severe arthritis of the spine, which causes debilitating pain.
• A domestic violence survivor; she also overcame alcohol and drug abuse as a teen.
• Darlene was a Sergeant in the U.S. Army and was honorably discharged in 1987.
Kenneth Lockhart, Associate of Applied Science, Media Communications
• GPA: 3.31; completed his studies at KKC in December 2013 and is participating in commencement exercises on May 3, 2014; interned at WVON Radio last summer.
• Was recently hired full time as a Sales and Marketing team member at WVON; is interested in moving over to the broadcast side when an opening occurs; plans to own his own radio station one day.
• Retired from AT&T in 2012 as a sales representative and decided to pursue a career that would nurture his lifelong love of radio.
• Hosted a show, “Real Talk,” at WKKC while a student here.
• Married, father of six grown children; he and his wife are both ministers.
• Take away from KKC: “I had a ball. My life experience was respected by younger students and my professors. If more adults knew what Kennedy-King had to offer, they wouldn’t consider returning to school such a scary proposition.”