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Success Stories

2017 Valedictorian - Epiphany Casey

After not being able to attend her preferred college after graduating high school, Epiphany Casey spent a year working retail before a phone call changed her educational outlook. Her mother got a call from Malcolm X College telling her about different options for students to start classes. It started to build momentum, pushing Epiphany to start working toward her goals. After finally enrolling at Malcolm X College, she quit her job to concentrate on school when her employer refused to work around her school schedule. She knew she wanted more than her current job, and she knew what she needed to do to get there.

Despite being anxious from her one-year layoff, transitioning into the classroom was easier for Epiphany than she initially expected. The students and teachers made the college feel homey to her. She formed strong bonds with her instructors, who were always willing to put in extra time and answer questions when she needed help. This mentality of being part of a family carried over into Epiphany’s job as a student ambassador, helping other new students get to know their surrounding and help them transition into a new environment when City Colleges opened a brand new Malcolm X College building.

As Epiphany prepares to move on to build a career as a pharmacy technician, hopefully working in inpatient facilities, she values everything that Malcolm X College has done for her. “MXC is a great place to start,” she says. “It’s cheaper and gives students all the resources they need to succeed.”  

2017 Salutatorian - Daniel Cornelious

Daniel always knew how important an education was, but his plans were derailed when finances forced him to drop out of the four-year university he attended after graduating high school. He took time away from the classroom after that, focusing on work while volunteering at the nearby Salvation Army and providing his services as a local mentor for younger kids. When his brother was old enough to start college, Daniel decided to be a supportive sibling and they started classes together at Malcolm X College. From his time in a four-year environment, the transition into the classroom was smooth for Daniel. He knew exactly what to expect and was ready for the type of mentality and habits that are needed to succeed in the college environment.

Being a good student doesn’t mean Daniel didn’t have questions sometimes. He utilized the Tutoring Center, especially for his science classes, and went to the transfer center when he started thinking about potential destinations after graduating. There, he was able to find waivers for application fees that helped him submit applications to his dream schools. “Malcolm X College is amazing,” he said. “It is a great place to prepare you for the future, and you have such a close knit, community feel when you’re on campus.”

As he nears completion of his associate degree, Daniel has also completed an exam to join the police academy. He wants to be a positive symbol in his community and create bonds between Chicagoans and the police force.


2016 Valedictorian - Qiao Liu -  Associate of Applied Science 

After marrying in 2010, Qiao left her job as a computer skills teacher in China to join her husband in the United States. At first, she experienced a huge culture shock. Due to the language barrier, she was fearful of leaving the house without her husband present as a translator. There were many things she simply couldn’t do, so she started taking ESL classes through the City Colleges of Chicago. Making the transition from teacher to student was a difficult one, but as her command of the English language improved, so did her confidence to continue with her education.

After completing her ESL certification, Qiao began taking classes to complete an associate degree and she was accepted into the radiography program at Malcolm X College. She is graduating with an associate of science degree, and Qiao will start her career as an X-ray technologist at area

“City Colleges is a great environment for new immigrants and international students,” she says. “It offers a welcoming learning environment, and always had resources to help me learn when I was struggling.”  


2015 Valedictorian - Idris Ayantoye, Associate of Science
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Idris grew up primarily speaking the Yoruba language, while also learning English in secondary school. Immigrating to the U.S. in 2011, Idris attended Truman College to receive his GED.   

ris never intended to stop at high school equivalency. He enrolled at Malcolm X College in 2012 with the idea he’d spend a semester there before transferring to a four-year school. Idris quickly realized his academic plan and coursework was exactly what he needed at Malcolm X. He didn’t need to transfer to get a good education. Being at MXC offered him a smaller, more personal environment and he found it was easy to get help when he needed it.   

Immersing himself in the student lifestyle, Idris played on the Malcolm X NJCAA soccer team, was Vice President of the Biology Club, was a CCC STEM scholar, student ambassador, and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa.   

Finishing his program in the Fall of 2014, Idris accepted the Presidential Scholarship offered by the Illinois Institute of Technology to qualified CCC students. He currently attends IIT, majoring in molecular biochemistry and biophysics. He plans to become a neurologist.   

2015 Salutatorian - Angela Adney, Associate of Science
After working odd jobs for decades, Angela knew it was time for a change. She wanted something permanent, and she knew those kinds of jobs required an education. She needed something that was a real skill. She was always intrigued by the medical field, and radiology caught her eye during her research. Thanks to the cost and proximity, she quickly realized Malcolm X College was her best option. After one meeting with MXC staff, she was set up for placement testing. From that day, she never had to worry about her next step. She knew she always had an advisor dedicated to making sure she succeeded.         

That success wasn’t easy. Being away from school for almost 20 years made for a difficult transition. While the difference was stark, it was absolutely worth it. This was an achievement that was all her own, and it is something she takes complete pride in.         

 As an older student, she wasn’t sure what the total educational environment was like at MXC. She didn’t know if she would be able to get involved outside of the classroom. Those fears were quickly put to rest when she joined Phi Thete Kappa, the Biology Club, and started doing community work. Not only was she a student. She became a member of the Malcolm X College family.    

While she plans to go straight into a radiography position, Angela hasn’t ruled additional education out of the picture. A bachelor’s degree is definitely a possibility. She believes any chance at an education gives everyone an opportunity to learn and grow together.


Susan is a clinic research coordinator at Rush University Medical Center. Her job requires her to do lab work and she knew that phlebotomy certification would enhance her skillset and help her team. Her new certificate would also introduce the possibility of a substantial salary increase.      

After researching phlebotomy programs, Susan chose Malcolm X College’s program due to its flexible schedule and the convenience of its location to both work and home. Susan says she gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and hands-on experience throughout the program which included an internship and a great volunteer experience.      

With a commitment to complete, Susan earned her phlebotomy certificate in two semesters and brought her new skills back to her team at Rush.      

Previous to attending Malcolm X College, Susan received her bachelor’s degree in organizational behavior at Northwestern University, as well as a master of arts in training and development and a master of science in human resources from Roosevelt University. She says earning her phlebotomy certificate at Malcolm X College is one of her proudest accomplishments.      

Gregory, a 2014 Malcolm X College AGS graduate, is a native of Nigeria who came to Chicago in pursuit of better educational opportunities. Gregory overcome many life challenges, including homelessness, to move toward his goal of one day becoming an anesthesiologist. He took full advantage of the his time and served as Vice President of Biology Club and was an active member of PTK, the soccer team, volunteers at MXC Saturday Academy. Gregory's hard work paid off when he was received a letter of acceptance to Rush University’s BA in Health Sciences program, where he will transfer in the fall.          
Hong, a Respiratory Care student at Malcolm X College, is originally from Chongqing, China and spoke no English when she arrived to the United States. Hong says that for many years she felt afraid and overwhelmed but was determined to learn the language and culture so she could help her family to succeed. It would be ten years before Hong felt she was ready to attend school but when the time came, she chose Malcolm X College based on positive feedback she received regarding its healthcare programs. Hong credits her MXC instructors for helping her make a positive transition to the Respirator Care program. She enjoyed the experience so much that she recently volunteered to serve as a translator for Shanghai exchange students visiting MXC. Hong also tutors another student from Chongqing who is new to the MXC Respiratory Care program.           
When Suzzettgraduated from high school several years ago, she did so with a dual diploma/Certified Nursing Assistant certificate at age 16. So it was no surprise when she went on to complete the Licensed Practical Nursing program through a CCC nursing program. Suzzette was employed as an LPN with a specialization in psychiatric care for many years before working her way up to a Nurse Manager position. She returned to Malcolm X College two years ago to pursue a Registered Nursing degree so she could take her career to the next level. In spring of 2014, Suzzette graduated with an AAS in nursing and states that as a single mother, she is extremely proud to be a role model for her children.     
Jarvis took a nontraditional path to receiving his AAS degree in Mortuary Science from Malcolm X college this past spring. Jarvis also holds a degree in biology from Jackson State University, an AGS from another school, and attended a year of medical school before realizing that his true calling is mortuary science. He adds, “I wanted to pursue a career as a medical Examiner but realized God had another direction for my life". Jarvis adds says the MXC program gave him the skills needed to advance in his chosen industry (he is currently working at a funeral home) and that the cost and value enabled him to reach his ultimate career goals. 
William, a 2014 graduate of the MXC Respiratory Care program, initially attended a four-year college but says he was not ready and that he, consequently, did not do as well as he would have liked. William was diagnosed with dyslexia in the 2nd grade and has had related learning challenges. He discovered the field of respiratory care while working at a special needs camp for children with severe asthma, diabetes and cancer. When asked, why respiratory care? He responds, “If you don’t breath, you don’t live. Breathing is a fundamental necessity that greatly impacts the quality of life.” William says he has found his true calling and believes strongly that students should follow their career passion and "do nothing less than what they absolutely love".