A few ECC graduates to talk about what this achievement means to them
Graduate stories and more
We've asked a few ECC graduates to talk about what this achievement means to them.
During my time at ECC, I have learned a lot about my fellow Spartans. They are talented, skilled, and full of wit. They are strong, determined, and wise. Today is a day to celebrate these incredible humans.
For Cristina Bahena Benitez, the Education and Work Center provided the support and guidance she needed to earn her State of Illinois High School Diploma.
I am a foreign student from Ibadan, Nigeria, and I would never have imagined myself giving a commencement speech in a reputable college in the United States of America.
You welcomed me to this country with smiles and open arms, and I will personally miss all of you. I've never been one to give good pep talks, so I'll keep it honest. This is not over; life is barely beginning, and I can say that many challenges await us in the coming months.
For Sheronda Murray-Jamison, her State of Illinois High School Diploma has opened the door to new career options.
On my first attempt at college, I went away to school, as most 18-year-olds leaving high school wanted to do. I quickly realized it wasn’t for me, and when I moved back home, I enrolled at Elgin Community College. I was excited; I felt better being back at home with my family, and at ECC, I was awarded a scholarship to play for the women’s basketball team – a sport I absolutely love.
I am a first-generation college student. My parents were immigrants from central Mexico, and both came to this country at a young age but did not have the same opportunities I had. Thanks to their efforts and sacrifices, I discovered what I truly wanted to do with my life.
My time at Elgin Community College has been quite the experience! I first enrolled in 2016 to start my journey to qualify for the nursing program.
After deciding that I would stay home and enroll at ECC, I decided that I would make the absolute most out of the two-year associate degree I was pursuing - A goal I definitely achieved.
My journey to discovering what I wanted to be when I grew up was very long and winding. I have started and stopped college multiple times. Right out of high school, I originally went to college for another science-based degree and struggled.
In the fall semester of my senior year of high school, I took on one of the hardest challenges of my life. My school offered a dual-credit program where I could simultaneously work on my high school diploma and an associate degree from Elgin Community College.
My love for the medical profession began when I was just two. I was in a sledding accident and had to go to the ER to get eight stitches in my right eyebrow. That experience sparked something in me.
My time at Elgin Community College was a life-changing experience that I will always treasure. I’d never reflected on the past two years here until I was asked to write this essay.
I have been a student at Elgin Community College since the fall of 2021. In this short time, I had the opportunity to engage in our diverse student organizations and be involved in our theater productions. Most importantly, I have been blessed with a robust education.
My time at Elgin Community College has been the best years of my life. Since a freshman in college, even during the height of the pandemic, I was able to make new friends and get involved, whether virtual or in person.
It's been a long road, some of us longer than others. And if you are wondering, I am one of the others! So, are you ready to go on my journey?
It is a pleasure to be speaking here today. I have dreamt many times of being here. Over the past two years or however long it has been for you - reflect on how much has changed.
After high school, I left home for university life, which was very appealing at 18. I did okay my freshman year, but my second year was rough, and I was missing home. I decided not to return after a horrible academic sophomore fall semester and began working full-time at a daycare center.
My college journey started in the fall of 2015. I wasn’t sure if I would like Elgin Community College, but I thought I’d give it a try. College life hasn’t been easy for me, I am a first-generation student, so I have put pressure on myself to finish what I have started.
At Elgin Community College, I was warmly welcomed and shown how to better myself through education. I was given the opportunity to learn from outstanding professors and connect with excellent staff - their dedication and communication profoundly contributed to my overall success.
When I started college, I was nervous because I knew my classes would cover twice the material in half the time compared to what I was accustomed to in high school. On that point, my instructors did not disappoint; however, they surprised me with how well they explained the material.
Ruthann Schatz tried college once, and it didn't work out. Almost 40 years later, encouragement from her son gave her the push to give college another try. Now she's graduating with her degree and a new dream for her future.
Thank you Dr. Gregory Robinson, and ECC faculty and trustees. It's my honor today to deliver the commencement address for my incredible fellow ECC classmates. Also, I want to welcome peers’ families, and faculty to this graduation day at Elgin Community College. Please note that each one of you has made a positive impact on each one of us who is graduating today.
I want to thank everyone for coming to graduation. I haven’t seen this many happy people in quite some time. It is humbling to be able to address and represent a group with so many different stories to tell.
When I was a high school student, I never thought I would be able to say I am vice president of student government, the social media coordinator for the Human Services Club, an Elgin Community College honors graduate, and transferring to my dream school, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Did you have a chance to stop and think about what you want from life? It might be one of the most challenging questions that someone can answer. As a mother of eight children, my immediate answer is “to be a good mom,” but a question behind that answer resonated in my mind: “How to become that good mom that my children need?” Then I realized that what I needed was to understand who I am.
Elgin Community College was a surprise in many different ways. I hadn’t considered applying here until a few weeks before school started in 2020. My future was uncertain due to the global pandemic and family complications, but ECC provided me with normalcy.
I never considered getting an education past high school was something meant for me. For ten years, I was in and out of Elgin Community College multiple times, trying different things. I reapplied to ECC one last time, and it has been one of the best academic experiences of my life.
Growing up, I was never a kid that knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. I went through phases of wanting to be a teacher, a doctor, a vet, a ballerina; all the things little girls say they want to be. It wasn’t until my high school AP biology class that I really started to fall in love with human anatomy and the medical field.
The past four years of being a student have not been easy. I started my journey in the spring of 2019, and since then, many things have changed in the world of academics.
It has been a great journey attending Elgin Community College for the last two years. ECC has allowed me to enhance not only my educational career but also my career in softball. I have played softball for the last 15 years, and I was not sure if I would be able to continue playing once I reached the collegiate level.
Between 2013 and 2022, I've changed majors eight times, been to three universities, earned an associate in science, completed over 100 credit hours, have a cumulative GPA of 2.8, earned my industrial maintenance certificate, and will start my career repairing kidney transporters. During my time at Elgin Community College, I was part of the Anime Club.
When I began my journey at Elgin Community College, graduating with my Associate in Science appeared to me like an impossible goal to achieve. I felt this way for many reasons, and it seemed that there were more reasons why I would not make it than reasons why I could.
I have wanted to be a nurse for as long as I can remember. In 2018, the time was right for me to go back to school. I investigated a number of schools, and found my home at ECC.
Since high school, I have had a passion for engineering and have always planned to get a degree in that field. However, despite being told multiple times that taking a gap year was a bad decision, I wasn’t sure I was financially ready for college. In the end, I decided to take a gap year to work and build up my finances.
We all have different reasons to learn English, to get our GED diploma, but we have in common something great, which is our desire to change our lives and the lives of those around us. I hope that my story inspires and motivates you to keep moving forward and keep fighting for your goals and dreams.
Taryn White, student speaker for the Career & Technical Programs Commencement Ceremony, took a risk that paid off big for her future.
Zain Alsalhani reflects on his time at ECC. We are here to celebrate our achievements and comradery not as just students but as a community.
Elgin Community College constantly challenged me to strive for excellence and put my best foot forward. Because of ECC, I am more driven and embrace challenges.
For Ashley Freeman choosing Elgin Community College was a no-brainer. While studying at ECC, Ashley was able to find the right career path in Healthcare.
Shortly after immigrating from Cameroon, Sandra Djou started her ECC journey as an English as a Second Language. Now, she's graduating with her associate degree and heading to her bachelor's.
Linda Kooper knew she wanted her life to be different by having a brighter future. She thought about the best path for her, so she decided to attend ECC.
Taylor Vitacco reflects on her journey at ECC. This school has provided me with endless opportunities, such as taking leadership roles within different clubs.
Elgin Community College helped Katherine Castiglione smoothly transition to college. The warm welcome brought a sense of belonging.
Leslie Miranda is highly grateful to her professors and clinical instructors in the nursing program at Elgin Community College.
Graduate Najmu Sahar knew she was not ready for a four-year college. She turned to ECC to start her college experience while she figured out her path. Read more about how ECC put her on the right path towards her goals.
Wendy Rivera never imagined graduating with high honors or going on to pursue a bachelor's degree. Read how ECC shaped her into who she is today.
Robert Phelan returned to school after seven years to move his education forward. Read more about how ECC helped him develop the confidence to pursue his dreams.
In high school, Danielle Lauritzen was lucky enough to know what she intended to make of her life. At ECC, she was able to grow and come to understand her place in this world through the work she had a passion for - teaching.
Experiencing culture shock and learning English as an immigrant moving from Guatemala at age 14 significantly impacted Lisbeth Castillo's life. Read about her how ECC opened doors to her brighter future.
During the introduction to Education course at Elgin Community College, I finally realized that what I wanted was to teach middle school.
I was able to transition from high school to college in a fun, friendly, and engaging environment that allowed me to work towards my associate degree whilst giving me time to figure out and explore what I wanted to do with my life. I cannot recommend ECC enough to prospective students, and can personally attest to ECC being a bright choice for a bright future.