Since its founding in 1949, more than 42,000 alumni have graduated from, and thousands more have attended ECC. Among these District 509 residents are generations of families whose roots run deep within the college and the community.
Alumna Sharon Fisher-Larson counts four Spartans among her family, including her husband (Eric), daughter, and two granddaughters. With each generation, the feeling that drew her to ECC has deepened. First as a student, then as a faculty member, and now as chair of the ECC Foundation's Purses with Purpose affinity group, Fisher-Larson has 55 years invested in ECC.
“As a student, instructors saw something in me I did not see,” said Fisher-Larson, who values the support she found at the college. “Any time I recommend ECC, I talk about how caring the faculty are here.”
Fisher-Larson’s husband, Eric Larson, is a former ECC dean and serves as vice chair of the ECC Foundation board. Their daughter, Shannon Hernandez, graduated in 1989 and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) honor society. And now, granddaughter Isabella Hernandez is involved with PTK, student government, and serves as the Illinois Community College Board’s statewide student representative. Even the youngest granddaughter, Mari, attends ECC's Kids’ College.
“I knew it was my best choice,” said Isabella Hernandez, who never questioned that she would attend ECC. “Those who go here have wonderful experiences, and they pass that narrative down to their family members.”
Fisher-Larson agrees. “ECC is still the best place to be. I continue to work with the college because it makes a difference for so many individuals. ECC has given me so much over the years; I just want to give back,” she said.
One of Fisher-Larson’s students, Diane Kerruish, can still be found on campus today. Kerruish, senior executive assistant to the president, even met her husband while playing intramural softball. In all, Kerruish's family counts 12 ECC alumni, including two sons, one of whom has returned to earn a culinary arts degree.
“There are so many different paths to take after high school, and ECC has something for everyone,” said Kerruish, whose family members have attended the college for nursing, dental assisting, office administration, drafting, culinary arts, and general education programs. “I’m proud to work for the institution that has touched so many lives in my family and the entire community."
The record for most alumni in one family, though, might go to the Dumoulin family. Pat Dumoulin started teaching at the college in 1970. Counting her late husband Bill, three children, their spouses, and 12 grandchildren, a total of 20 family members have walked ECC’s halls so far. Half of them played on the women’s basketball team, and all 12 grandchildren received scholarships from the ECC Foundation.
When the family received ECC's Lasting Impact Award in 2018, Pat Dumoulin expressed pride in her family’s choice to make ECC their college. In addition to one family member on campus this fall, the family tree will likely have a few more Spartans, as several grandchildren are still in high school.
Elgin Community College’s roots have made it possible for thousands of families across District 509 to establish strong foundations and build bright futures.