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IVCC’s 38th annual Adult Education Recognition event honors 26 students

OGLESBY — Twenty-six students were recently honored during Illinois Valley Community College’s 38th annual Adult Education Recognition event.

Two student speakers shared their stories during the event.

Cesar Verdin of LaSalle is a high school equivalency recipient who moved to the United States when he was 17 years old. He was unable to attend high school, so he started his educational journey in the U.S. by taking English as a Second Language (ESL) classes offered by IVCC’s Adult Education department.

“It was difficult to take classes because I worked full-time while I was attending school. The English classes helped me to gain skills I would need to continue my education,” Verdin told the audience.

In 2017, Verdin transitioned from ESL classes to high school equivalency classes so he could study for the General Educational Development (GED) test.

“I was still working full-time, but with a lot of hard work and a lot of encouragement from my parents, I was able to achieve my goal of getting my GED,” Verdin said. “I want to continue with my dream of getting a good job as a welder. I have completed four welding classes at IVCC. My goal is to complete the welding production certificate.”

He thanked his teachers Tracy Makransky, Patti Furlan and Luke Olivero, along with Director of Adult Education Sara Escatel and the rest of the adult education staff.

“I also want to encourage other students to continue their education at IVCC. Never is it too late,” he said.

The second student speaker, Yohnatan Medellin of LaSalle, was recognized for obtaining U.S. citizenship. However, he previously completed one of the Bridge to Careers classes, and he earned his high school equivalency certificate while participating in adult education programs. He told everyone that it was not easy to achieve these goals, “but it was not impossible either.”

“Approximately five years ago, I arrived here in Illinois with the hope of learning English, and it was very difficult for me because I did not understand anything, not even when someone told me ‘Hello. How are you?’ I hope you understand how lost I was, but I got very lucky because I found this academic institution, IVCC, and I came here to college and I met many people and teachers who helped me to reach my goals,” Medellin said.

Medellin thanked his ESL teacher Sandra Woest for not giving up on him and for getting the best out of him. She demanded he continue on his educational path so he could get ahead, he said. He also is grateful for the adult education teachers that followed Woest.

“After Sandy, I had more teachers that helped me to continue growing and to accomplish my dreams, giving me many opportunities. Thanks to IVCC and all the teachers with whom I had the joy of sharing a classroom, I managed to get my GED certificate, I became an American citizen and I managed to speak English,” Medellin said.

“This is a great country full of opportunities, and if you take the opportunities and grow as a person, the country also grows. Don’t wait any longer. Go for your goals and your dreams. They are waiting for you,” Medellin concluded.

Also during the ceremony, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Bonnie Campbell announced the names of two who’ve completed their GED and are eligible for IVCC Foundation scholarships for earning high scores.

Out of 59 GED students who chose to share their high school equivalency passing scores, 38 requested the first class tuition-free waiver that supports students in transitioning to credit courses at IVCC.

In addition to the first class tuition-free offering, IVCC makes available college transcript credits for students meeting or exceeding the College Ready + Credit score on the GED Test of 175 in each subject area. Two testers met the cut score requirements in one or more areas to receive IVCC college credits.

Each high school equivalency graduate received certificates from IVCC President Jerry Corcoran and was congratulated by board chairwoman Jane Goetz, trustees Angela Stevenson, Amy Boyles and Jay McCracken, student trustee Matt Klein and Vice President for Academic Affairs Deborah Anderson. Chris Dvorak, superintendent of the LaSalle-Marshall-Putnam County Regional Office of Education, read student names.

Woest read the names of six naturalized citizens and nine who completed the Bridge to Careers program. This program prepares students for careers or further education in health care or manufacturing. Other participants included singer Jenilyn Roether of Peru and Adult Education instructor Carrie Danekas of Oglesby.

For information on IVCC’s Adult Education programs, call Escatel at 815-224-0355 or visit

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