CHICAGO – Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined Chancellor Cheryl Hyman in addressing the 2012 Graduating Class of City Colleges of Chicago on Saturday, May 12th at UIC Pavilion. This year, City Colleges granted nearly 3,300 associate degrees in 2012, up 800 from 2011 and double the number ten years ago.
“We are proud of our graduates for putting in the hard work to achieve their goals,” said Chancellor Hyman. “Through our Reinvention initiative we are making the investments in our students to ensure that they receive credentials of economic value and graduate prepared for further education or a career.”
The City Colleges’ new emphasis on encouraging timely completion of a degree included doubling the number of advisors, bringing the advisor-student ratio from 920:1 to 450:1 and helping ensure students have clearly defined academic and professional goals.
Over the last few months, CCC has also worked with students with 45 credit hours or more – some of them with more than the 60 credit hours normally necessary to graduate –to ensure they took the remaining classes necessary to meet foundation and major requirements for an associate degree and on to jobs or further education.
Today’s graduates represent the increasingly non-traditional college student working hard to gain an education that will give them the skills employers need and provide a clear pathway to a job in an increasingly competitive workplace. The 3,300 graduates included:
• Meosha Thomas a single mother and disabled U.S. Navy veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom is a Kennedy-King College early childhood development major who received the highly competitive Civic Consulting Alliance (CCA) Public Internship this spring. Thomas was chosen from all seven valedictorians to provide the City Colleges valedictorian commencement address.
• Dwight Dawson, an Army veteran who also served in Iraq, is considered a campus renaissance man at Olive-Harvey College, having earned a 4.0 GPA, and being selected as class valedictorian—a distinction his sister earned in 2009—all while holding down a full-time job and serving as an Army reservist. The 25-year-old honor society member plans to transfer to the Illinois Institute of Technology in the fall and before that, begins a full-time IT job this summer.
• Lupe Cotto, wife and mother of three, lost her job two years ago and took a leap of faith when decided to go back to school at age 50 but, she never imagined she would have a Mother’s Day like this weekend. Cotto graduated salutatorian of Daley College—only one day after her own daughter, Nicole, graduated from Loyola University. She plans to study accounting at one of three Chicago-area universities where she has been accepted.
• James Barnett, 61, spent more than 40 years away from school and didn't know how to turn on a computer when he started college. But he thrived at Harold Washington College, joining Phi Theta Kappa honor society and has plans to transfer to University of Illinois-Chicago in the fall. Barnett battled substance abuse and is now planning to pursue his studies in order to help others kick their addictions.
“As we watch these students go out into the workforce, prepared for a job and ready for life-long career, I believe we are one step closer to ensuring we fulfill the mayor’s vision for City Colleges. We are committed to investing in our community college system to ensure that it becomes an economic engine for Chicago,” said Paula Wolff, Chair, City Colleges’ Board of Trustees.