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A Publication of WTVP

During Illinois Central College’s commencement ceremonies this spring, we celebrated the academic accomplishments of hundreds of students who are completing their education and beginning the next step in life. Many of them sought an ICC education to prepare them to complete a bachelor’s degree at a four-year college or university, while others have gained the knowledge and skills needed to enter the workforce in their career of choice. While they all share the desire to learn and take the next step in life, they all bring a different set of circumstances, challenges, gifts and triumphs. Each student has a story that is uniquely his or her own. I am continually inspired by the height at which students set their goals and the obstacles they overcome. Let me show you what I mean.

Nemoy Malcolm became blind at age 18 and chose to become a trained massage therapist following high school so he could work his way through college. For the past two years, he has worked as a massage therapist while attending ICC full-time. He and his guide dog, Samson, will head to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale this fall where Nemoy will study social work and psychology with hopes of becoming a counselor.

Originally from Maryland, Nemoy said his ICC experience has taught him as much about himself as the classes he’s taken. While he enrolled in the general education courses needed for his major, he also explored plenty of subjects new to him, including classes like pottery, piano and golf. Nemoy said that since becoming blind, he has gained mental strength and emotional stability and has met a lot of people whom he may not have met—explaining that visual impressions lead us to form judgments about people and may influence whether or not we speak to or get to know them. He no longer judges people that way. When asked if he had any message to share, he said, “Go one day without sight, and you’ll see you still have vision.”

Aimee and Chantelle Saint Andre are two fabulous young women who are classmates, teammates and sisters. Both were outstanding contributors on our women’s soccer team, but it is their performance in the classroom, perseverance and dedication to family and one another that makes them shine.

When their mother moved out of state, Chantelle was forced to move home to Pekin after one year at the University of Illinois to help raise her brother and sister and take over household responsibilities. For her, that meant working three jobs to help pay the bills. She did that while balancing the demands of a full-time student and the practice and game schedule of a student athlete on a highly successful team.

Her younger sister Aimee was a valedictorian at Pekin High School and earned a Board of Trustees scholarship to ICC. She earned Dean’s list honors every semester as well as All-Region honors for soccer both her freshman and sophomore years. Aimee supported herself and did what she could to help out at home. Working two jobs helped her to pay the bills and buy groceries to help out the family. Both Aimee and Chantelle plan to study physical therapy at Western Illinois University this fall.

Amy Tabb graduated from our nursing program and will be taking state boards to become a registered nurse. Her motivation and inspiration to pursue nursing came from her 3-year-old daughter, Jaida. Jaida spent the first five months of her life in the hospital. With her daughter facing subsequent tests and heart surgery, Amy learned a whole new dimension of caring and care. Jaida is deaf and has a feeding tube, tracheotomy and ventilator, but her mom says she is just like any other 3-year-old, with a few extra challenges. It was those early days of Jaida’s life in the hospital room when Amy found the desire and inspiration to pursue a nursing career. Amy said, “I want to be that nurse who came in smiling when I was crying and depressed.”

Linda Varner, 58, and her 33-year-old daughter Phoenicia La’Miko Nichols graduated together. Linda graduated from two of our Cisco Computer Networking programs and will return in the fall to complete a third. Her daughter received her associate’s degree in general education and will return to ICC in our Licensed Practical Nursing program. Linda retired from the Peoria County Health Department and decided to return to ICC. When Phoenicia thought she was too old at age 33 to return to school, her mother told her, “You’re never too old to learn.” Linda was proud that together she and her daughter walked across the stage to receive their diplomas in front of four generations of family. She wanted to be an example and inspiration to her grandchildren and great grandchildren.

These students are an inspiration to all of us at Illinois Central College, exemplifying the spirit, courage and commitment to excellence of so many of our students. IBI

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