MALTA – On Saturday, this year’s crop of Kishwaukee College graduates joined the 24,600 alumni who have donned the green and gold robes before them.
Family and friends packed the gymnasium for a pair of commencement ceremonies – one at 9 a.m. and one at 11 a.m., marking an end to the community college’s 51st academic year. For many students, the day provided an opportunity for a short celebration before heading onward to do the work, in academia or in the workforce, for which their degree has helped prepare them.
“I’m excited,” said Kiana Robinson, of Sycamore, who earned her Associate of Science on Saturday, drawing out the “i” in excited for emphasis. “I’m not taking a break, though. As soon as Kish opens back up for the summer, I’m going to be in the library studying.”
Robinson said she will join the nursing program at Kishwaukee College and enroll at Northern Illinois University to pursue her bachelor’s degree.
Brianna Walker said she also planned to move on to NIU to pursue a degree in child psychology.
“I’m very excited. I wish I could go again, honestly, because it’s so cheap, and [I got] really good help,” Walker said, adding with a laugh, “I think the degree is honestly going to put me in the next tax bracket up, so I’m just waiting for that.”
Walker said that she appreciated Kish College’s small class size, and the care professors were able to give to individual students as a result.
“I felt like I got a lot of help and a lot of guidance,” said Walker
Robinson, who took four years off after high school to pursue her CNA certificate, said that she had a great time at the college as soon as she started to speak up in class.
“[The first year] everyone was quiet and kind of kept to themselves because everyone was new and no one knew what was going on,” she said. “But once you open your mouth and say ‘Hi!’ to someone – because everyone’s just nervous – as soon as you say ‘Hi’ to someone you make an abundance of friends.”
Unlike Robinson and Walker, Jason Ericson of Sycamore said he didn’t know what was next for his education.
“I plan on moving jobs and going somewhere in the technology field, and maybe going back to college to get some more credits, if I need it for my job,” said Ericson, who earned an Associate of Science. “We’ll see where life takes me.”
Robinson said she was thankful for a core support group during her time at the college, and learned a lesson from her family that will likely be helpful for whatever comes next.
“I accidentally failed a couple of my classes. What my mother and all of my family members did was, they said, ‘Okay, you’ll do it again next year. You don’t give up ’cause you fail. You get back up and keep running.’ ”