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City Colleges of Chicago Celebrates 2015 Commencement

5/2/2015 12:00 AM

Hip-hop artist and recent Academy Award winner COMMON encouraged the 2015 City Colleges of Chicago graduating class to give back to their communities in his commencement address on Saturday, May 2nd at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago. More than 1,800 students from the seven City Colleges were in attendance at the ceremony. 

“Congratulations to all the graduates and their families on this tremendous achievement,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “The City of Chicago is proud of our City Colleges graduates who have worked hard to receive a quality education and will go on to a great job and a bright future. Remember this day and how much your city has invested in you and how much we want your success to be something we can share.”        

“Our graduates have overcome many obstacles to arrive at this exciting milestone,” said Chancellor Cheryl Hyman. “They’ve juggled full-time jobs and families along with school. Some are the first in their family to attend college.  Still  others are returning to the classroom after many years. We’re here to support them and provide the resources they need to succeed at City Colleges, four-year colleges, and in-demand careers.”       

Each college selected a valedictorian with an inspiring story of success. The 2015 Valedictorians are:             
  • Richard J. Daley College: Karla Gama Ramos – Raised on Chicago’s South Side, Karla lost her motivation for education while in high school. She bounced around from job to job for a few years, before deciding to pursue an associate degree at Richard J. Daley College. She excelled at Daley College, joining and leading Phi Theta Kappa and the Honors Program. Next year Karla will transfer to the University of Illinois at Chicago complete double majors in English and History. Her goal is to become a teacher.
  • Harold Washington College: Tamila Pashaee Alamdari – Born and raised in Iran, Tamila left her full-time job and her son to pursue a college education in the United States. A friend from Iran recommended Harold Washington College because of the quality, affordable education. Tamila had a 10-year gap since she had been in school, but she quickly adapted and thrived at Harold Washington College. She will transfer to a bachelor’s degree program with a scholarship next year. 
  • Kennedy-King College: Dontea Williams - 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 but he passed his GED and wanted to continue his education. His original goal was to complete a certificate, but he is graduating with an associate in applied science. Next year he will transfer to the Illinois Institute of Technology to get his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Industrial Facilities Management with a minor in sustainable energy. He hopes to run his own consultancy firm, bringing sustainable energy initiatives into Chicago businesses.
  • Malcolm X College: Idris Ayantoye – Born in Nigeria, his first goal when he arrived in the United States was to complete his GED. He then enrolled at Malcolm X College with the plan to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program. Idris was an active student, playing on the NJCAA soccer team and joining multiple student groups, including Phi Theta Kappa. In Spring 2015, Idris started his bachelor’s degree in molecular biochemistry and biophysics at Illinois Institute of Technology and was awarded the Presidential Scholarship. Idris plans to go on to medical school and become a neurologist. 
  • Olive-Harvey College: Samuel Amadi - Born in Ghana and raised in Lesotho, Samuel came to America to chase his dream of becoming an accountant, like his older brother. Taking accounting classes, and doing an internship, made Samuel realize accounting wasn’t for him. Taking his general education courses at Olive-Harvey College helped him realize he was truly passionate about science. In the fall, Samuel will transfer to Belmont University’s Doctorate of Pharmacy program in Nashville, Tenn​.
  • Harry S Truman College: Juliana Spricigo – Born and raised in Brazil, Juliana applied to Truman College’s nursing program because of its high NCLEX pass rates. She excelled at Truman College and credits her success to her family, especially her husband, for understating her absence and supporting her decisions. Next year, Juliana will transfer to North Park University for the RN to BSN program. 
  • Wilbur Wright College: Eric Lund – Eric spent more than 20 years working in finance before he decided it was time to pursue a college degree. The transition to school was difficult and he had to make sacrifices to juggle his classes and his full-time job. He completed his degree in December and has already started his bachelor’s degree at the University of Illinois at Springfield. 
Since Chancellor Hyman launched a Reinvention, City Colleges of Chicago has doubled its graduation rate.  City Colleges has also recorded all-time highs for the number of degrees awarded annually for the last three years. 

​Photo Credit: A. Angela Guernica​

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Nikole Muzzy