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BHCC’s Adult Education Program Celebrates Steps toward the American Dream

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) Adult Education and Transitions Program celebrated the achievement of students on June 22, 2019, at the Homewood Suites in Chelsea, MA.The students who were recognized completed their education courses in a consortium where they passed the HiSET®, completed adult basic education courses or completed their college courses for Transitions to College.

In her welcoming remarks, Kristen McKenna, Dean of Workforce and Economic Development, informed the audience about the levels of success the student groups achieved. The program celebrated students who completed the Spanish Hi SET®, Level IV English Second Language and completed or made significant progress in the Transitions to College Program. “We are so proud of our students that they are on a new path of learning and discovery,” said McKenna. “For many, they are embarking on an educational journey that begins with college.”

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BHCC President Pam Y. Eddinger applauded the students for their courage in pursuing and completing their secondary education credential. Eddinger shared her personal story as an immigrant, a story that many of the students in the Adult Education program identify with, where her parents worked hard so that she and her siblings could receive the opportunity to go to college. “High school graduation and college is the beginning of a new life, for you and the generation after,” said Eddinger. “I hope that with today’s graduation you will come to college. If you come to college your children will also come to college, and they are our future.”

Faculty member Carlos Maynard was selected to speak to the graduating students. Maynard, like many of the students, understands what it means to be in a new country. He discussed the importance of value and knowing the power within one’s cultural wealth. “As students you have personal, educational, work and family experiences. As students those experiences are an asset to those around you. Others can gain from what you have gained throughout your life. Appreciate the skills you have in language, networking and creativity.”

Michelle Surin, Director of Workforce and Economic Development, addressed the graduates. She reminded the graduates that the College is excited and honored to be a part of their educational careers. She encouraged them to reach out to their instructors, advisors and staff for support in the continuation of their future goals.

Angela Lux, a student from the HiSET® program, shared her experiences with the guests.  Forced to leave school after the third grade to help her family with household responsibilities, Lux arrived in Los Angeles in 1989 at 18 years old from Guatemala. In 2017, after moving to Boston, she enrolled in the Spanish HiSET® program. “Thanks to our desire to learn and persevere in our classes,” Lux said, “we are one step closer to achieving our goals and having better opportunities.”

Verona Whittaker was the student speaker from the Transitions to College program. She told guests about her steps from getting a secondary education credential and then moving on to College. Whittaker came to the U.S. from Jamaica 11 years ago. After receiving her GED, Whittaker, a former janitor, decided to take courses at BHCC to improve her English skills and pursue higher education. Her advice to fellow students entering the Transitions to College program was, “Be optimistic and ask for help,” she said. “You may not have anyone to cheer you on. If you can’t find anyone to cheer you on, be selfish and cheer on yourself.”

Emmanuel Paul also spoke at the celebration. His experience can be used as a model for Adult Education. A former journalist from Haiti, Paul came to the U.S. in 2013. He enrolled in adult education to improve his English skills. After completing the adult education program, he attended classes at BHCC. He then received his associate degree in finance and transferred to Northeastern University. He later received his bachelor’s degree and became a CPA. His next step is to take courses at Harvard Business School. Paul knew that his endeavor in higher education began the same way as those who were being recognized at the celebration. He encouraged his fellow BHCC Adult Education alumni to continue their educational careers in college. “This is a great opportunity for you,” Paul said. “You can achieve whatever you want regardless of where you come from. Think of this program not as a destination, but as a journey.”

The Adult Education program at the BHCC Chelsea Campus and the Boston Education Consortium provides educational and support services for adults who lack English language and literacy skills and/or do not have a high school diploma. The Transitions to College Program at BHCC enables students currently or previously enrolled in an Adult Education program to enroll in college-level courses by learning essential skills needed to be a successful student.  Visit bhcc.edu/adulted for more information.