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2024 - 4 Elgin Community College Students Inducted into Golden Apple Program

Tags: Accomplishment | Student Profile
Published 05/01/2024
Elgin Community College across Lake Spartan.

Elgin Community College across Lake Spartan.

Four Elgin Community College (ECC) students have been inducted into the Golden Apple Scholars program in Illinois and will receive up to $23,000 in scholarships.

Students Trista Skelnik, Jozephine Carlson, Dulce Rivera, and Valeria Hernandez received official invitations in April. All are pursuing elementary education and will be inducted into the Scholar Class of 2024. The program offers hands-on, personalized mentoring, extensive classroom teaching experience, job placement assistance, and more.

"The Golden Apple Scholars Program in Illinois is a teacher preparation and tuition assistance program for students who have the determination to be highly effective teachers in Illinois schools-of-need,” said Norma De La Rosa, manager of recruitment and scholar support for Golden Apple. “We prepare aspiring teachers for immediate and lasting success in culturally and geographically diverse teaching environments. Community colleges have a vast number of academically talented students and ECC isn't the exception. We are excited to include four ECC aspiring teachers in the Scholar Class of 2024!"

Additionally, the students will be able to join the Partnering to Lead and Empower District-Grown Educators (PLEDGE) program, an on-campus partnership between ECC and Northern Illinois University that allows students to complete the same teacher-licensure program offered in DeKalb on NIU’s campus at ECC.

Trista Skelnik of Streamwood will graduate with an Associate of Arts this summer. Being accepted into Golden Apple will help support her career aspirations and lighten the financial burden.

“Personally, this means a lot to me,” Skelnik said. “It means that I am doing what I am meant to do. It also proves that people believe in me and my journey to becoming a teacher because they are willing to support me.

“This opportunity will give me many resources and support throughout the next few years. It also relieves a good amount of stress that comes with the cost of school.”

ECC has been a strong foundation for Skelnik, preparing her for success. She credits her counselors and advisors for helping her find her path.

After graduation, Skelnik will attend NIU and pursue a Bachelor of Science in elementary education.

Jozephine Carlson of St. Charles will graduate with honors in May with an Associate of Arts degree. Carlson is grateful for the Golden Apple program.

“The cost of a college education can be very daunting, but this scholarship has allowed me to pursue my passion while relieving some of that financial burden,” she said.

Carlson said she looks forward to the program because it will support her career aspirations.

“This opportunity allows me to gain valuable experience teaching in lower-income schools and with children of various cultures. It also offers many learning opportunities to expand my knowledge of education.”

Carlson credits ECC for preparing her for a successful career. Along with “amazing instructors” and affordability, she said the ECC and NIU Education program will be beneficial.

“It will allow me shorter commutes while still pursuing my bachelor’s degree. The program also ensures that my courses are compatible and transferable with NIU.”