Students in the Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) program at St. Charles Community College were honored during a recognition ceremony on Wednesday, June 13.
Students were recognized for receiving their General Education Development (GED) credential and for achievement, improvement and attendance in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program. Three students were recognized for becoming U.S. citizens, including Veronica Gutierrez, from Mexico; Wanpen Luckett, from Thailand; and Mirna Sheets, from Venezuela.
GED student Lori Lamer and ESL student Ana Lorena Villa-Gutierezz were each presented with a $100 book scholarship from the SCC Foundation Board at the ceremony.
Lamer was also the GED student speaker for the ceremony. Lamer, 50, of Cottleville, lost her job in August 2011, and after being out of school for more than 30 years, she enrolled in GED classes at SCC. Two months later she earned her GED certificate and was offered a job at Magellan Health Services in Earth City, Mo. She is continuing her education at SCC this summer by taking pre-health information technology (HIT) classes.
“When one door closes, another one opens, and the door slammed shut on my face after I lost my job,” Lamer said. “I was unemployed for the first time in my life, but getting my GED opened a new door for me. I qualified for a scholarship and now I’m a college student, and hopefully in a few years, I’ll be a college graduate.”
The criteria for the scholarships were strong attendance, academic improvement, serving as a role model and enrollment at SCC for the upcoming fall semester. Nearly $3,000 is awarded in book scholarships by the Foundation each semester.
During the 2011-12 academic year, more than 175 SCC students received their GED credentials and more than 460 SCC students from 61 different countries took part in the ESL program.
“When I see all of these students with different backgrounds in one classroom learning and working together, I wonder why world peace is so hard to achieve,” said Diane Schroeder, associate dean of extended learning at SCC. “For many students in the GED and ESL programs, this is the first step toward a better job and a better life.”
Nibras Matar, 37, of St. Charles, Mo., was the ESL student speaker for the evening. Matar, originally from Iraq, earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Baghdad University in 1999. Afterward, she got married and moved to the United States, where she had all three of her children. She became a U.S. citizen in 2007.
“My mother always taught me to never give up and fulfill my dreams no matter what, and the United States has given me that opportunity,” Matar said. “My success began here in the ESL program at SCC.” Matar wants to continue to improve her English and eventually get her master’s degree in journalism.
The Adult Education and Literacy program at St. Charles Community College teaches basic reading, math and writing skills to prepare people to take the GED tests and to assist non-native speakers in gaining English proficiency. The program extends to four counties (St. Charles, Warren, Lincoln and Pike), and free day and evening classes are available.
For more information about the AEL program at SCC, call 636-922-8411 or visit www.stchas.edu/ael.
Established in 1986, St. Charles Community College is celebrating 25 years as a public, comprehensive two-year community college with associate degrees and certificate programs in the arts, business, sciences and career-technical fields. SCC provides workforce training and community-based personal and professional development as well as cultural, recreational and entertainment opportunities. For more information, visit www.stchas.edu.