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Olive-Harvey College, Kennedy-King College and Malcolm X College Valedictorians Recognized for Outstanding Achievement

Olive-Harvey College, Kennedy-King College and Malcolm X College Valedictorians Recognized for Outstanding Achievement

5/9/2013 12:00 AM

City Colleges’ largest graduating class in more than two decades included hundreds of students from Kennedy-King College, Malcolm X College and Olive-Harvey College celebrating commencement on Friday, May 3 at the UIC Pavilion. Nearly 4,000 students will earn an associate’s degree at City Colleges in 2013—an 80 percent increase since the launch of the Reinvention initiative in 2010 and the highest in more than two decades.

“City Colleges of Chicago marks a tremendous achievement with a historic number of graduates, many of whom juggled the responsibilities of work and family and overcome serious obstacles to reach this moment,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Simon.  “This day demonstrates the power that a quality, affordable education focused on student success can have to transform lives and communities.” 

“All of us at City Colleges are proud of this historic group of college graduates,” Chancellor Hyman said. “Their achievements prove that putting education first pays off, and offer more evidence that the student-centered reforms we’ve implemented in recent years are providing a solid pathway to further education or a stable career.” 

Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon delivered the keynote address at the graduation ceremony to a crowd of thousands of students and their proud families. As Governor Quinn’s point person on education reform, Simon is working to increase the percentage of working-age Illinois residents who have a college degree. Since taking office, she has highlighted the important role community colleges play in increasing the state’s college completion rate and putting residents on pathway to workplace success. 

Laura Bruck, valedictorian of Malcolm X College, is a career-changer and like many City Colleges’ students returned to school as an adult. After working in IT and customer service for years, she decided to pursue the career she had always dreamed of in healthcare. While working on her prerequisites she decided to take on a part-time job at a hospital and decided through her experiences to pursue a degree in respiratory care.

Olive-Harvey valedictorian Glen Williams, 33, is also a returning student. While pursuing his studies, Williams was a leader in student activities serving as President of Phi Theta Kappa, the student director of the Illinois Violence Prevention grant, and in campus activities focused on HIV prevention. He currently works as a student advocate at Chicago Gear Up Alliance, which works to increase the rate of high school graduation and participation in post-secondary education. After graduation from Chicago State, Williams wants to pursue a career teaching communications and become a motivational speaker. 

The road back to school was a long one for Vanessa Davenport, 32, but her determination and hard work paid off.  She enrolled at Kennedy-King College after having dropped out of high school and having taken a break from school.  While balancing responsibilities as a mother of three children, Davenport graduated at the top of her class and plans to major in education at a local four-year college to fulfill her dream of becoming an elementary school educator. 

While City Colleges students come to the college from a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences, all share common goals for career success and a better future. Iraq war veteran Eric Rice, another member of the Class of 2013, served in the Army for nine years before returning stateside. He thanks Kennedy-King College Veterans Services Specialist Meosha Thomas for persuading him to pursue a college degree. During the last six months, City Colleges has hired full-time veterans specialists like Thomas at all seven campuses. With support from state and federal financial aid programs for veterans that Rice learned about from Thomas at KKC’s new Veterans Services Center, he is receiving an associate’s degree in construction management. He plans on continuing his education at a four-year college.

Along with veterans services, in recent years City Colleges has expanded and strengthened other services central to supporting students’ academic and professional goals and well-being. These services include tutoring, academic advisors, transfer specialists and Wellness Centers. Colleges also form targeted support groups such as the King’s Men, a group launched in fall 2012 to help provide an additional support system for predominately African-American male students at Kennedy-King College. 

“City Colleges’ steadily growing number of graduates is a testament to the institution’s rising value,” said Paula Wolff, chair of City Colleges’ Board of Trustees. “By providing affordable and quality higher education which prepares Chicagoans for additional education and for careers in growing fields, City Colleges is an indispensable part of this city’s future.” 


Contact Information

Nicole C. Lacey773-291-6403
Nicole C. Lacey
Phone: 
773-291-6403

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