GED Recipients and English as a Second Language Students Honored at SCC's Adult Education and Literacy Recognition Ceremony

July 01, 2011

Students in the Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) program at St. Charles Community College were honored during a recognition ceremony on Wednesday, June 15.

GED Recipients and English as a Second Language Students Honored at SCC's Adult Education and Literacy Recognition Ceremony

Amber Sparks, of O’Fallon, Mo., addresses GED students, families and friends at the Adult Education and Literacy Student Recognition Ceremony on June 15.

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. One student from Ecuador, Maria Layman, was recognized for becoming a U.S. citizen.

GED student Tim DeRienzo and ESL student Minh Pham were each presented with a $100 book scholarship from the SCC Foundation Board at the ceremony.

Pham also participated in the SCC Fast-Track GED program, and she was honored at the ceremony for earning her GED credential. Pham is currently enrolled in a summer credit class at SCC and plans on taking four more classes this fall. Her dream is to become a registered nurse. “In Vietnam, I helped take care of my sick grandmother, but I didn’t really know what I was doing,” she said. “I’m excited to learn how to give proper medical care.”

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 2010-11 academic year, more than 200 SCC students received their GED credentials and more than 500 SCC students took part in the ESL program.

“For many students in the GED and ESL programs, this is the first step toward a better job and a better life,” said Diane Schroeder, associate dean of extended learning at SCC. “Adult students face many challenges when they decide to return to school, and this ceremony celebrates their success.”

Amber Sparks, 30, of O’Fallon, Mo., was the GED student speaker for the evening. Sparks first signed up for GED classes when she was five months pregnant, and she set a goal to earn her GED credentials before her son was born. Four months later, Sparks completed her GED test just 12 hours before she gave birth to her son.

“I was having small contractions when I showed up at 5:45 a.m. to take the GED test that day,” Sparks said. “But I didn’t want to tell anybody because I wanted to take the test and get my GED.” 

Sparks received her GED certificate in the mail on March 5, the same day her son was expected to be born. “I wanted to be a good role model for him,” she said. “So I took advantage of what SCC had to offer and I worked hard to reach my goal.”

The keynote speaker was Tom Robbins, the assistant director of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education GED Testing.

“Most of us think our lives are tough enough without going out and looking for more to take on,” Robbins said during his address. “But that’s exactly what these students did. The honorees tonight not only took on more but overcame many obstacles, and that is something to celebrate.” 

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

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

SCC Social

SCC Blogs

Andrea Compton
Associate Professor

Brynne Cramer
Marketing Specialist

Dan Porter
Grounds Supervisor

Jenny Hahn Schnipper
Academic and Career Counselor

Ron Chesbrough

Student Activities
Students in clubs and organizations


Heather McDorman
Vice President for Marketing and Communications

Ben Munson
Associate Director of Marketing and Communications

Nick Hogan
Website Coordinator