Posted On: 05/05/23
Almost 400 degrees and certificates will be conferred at the 54th annual Kankakee Community College commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 13 in the George H. Ryan Gymnasium in the college's Activities Building. Members of the media are invited to attend the event. Photographs will be welcome.
“This graduation is unique because this is my first real graduation,” said Gabriel Emerson of Beaverville. “I graduated high school in 2020 right when the pandemic hit, so this is a huge step-up from grabbing my diploma off of a table that was on a huge flat-bed trailer.”
Emerson completed an Associate in Science in December 2022, and has completed a semester at Eastern Illinois University, where he is studying environmental biology.
“I just turned 50 last year, and to finally be graduating from college is a dream come true,” said Laretta Graves, who will receive an Associate in Arts transfer degree.
“This has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life,” Graves said. “I plan to continue with my goals and dreams by attending GSU (Governors State University) in the fall, majoring in pre-clinical psychology with a minor in philosophy. I will miss KCC, though, as it has become a place where I have further empowered myself and grown. Here's to 50 more years!”
A first-generation college student, Noah Stack has a simple message for his mom, “I’d like to give a special thank you to my mother, Jeanne Stack, for her continued support, encouragement, and strength as a solo-mother for the past three years.”
Stack will receive an Associate in Applied Science degree in Agri-Hort Technology. He is going to move to California and attend a ministry school.
“This has been a long journey for me,” said Adlene Noble of Kankakee. “These last couple of years, I took the initiative to focus and get the last few classes I needed done to obtain my associate’s degree.
“I am a first-generation graduate,” said Noble. “I’m so proud of myself for this accomplishment.”
After receiving an Associate in General Studies degree, Noble plans to continue at KCC, first by applying to the Licensed Practical Nursing program, and eventually completing the Registered Nursing degree.
The speaker at KCC’s ceremony will be a 2012 graduate, Eric Peterson. Peterson is chief executive officer and founder at Project Headspace and Timing, a non-profit that assists veterans. He is a U.S. military veteran who served in Afghanistan with the Illinois Army National Guard. Peterson also has worked as a paramedic and a private investigator.
Three students will be honored as members of the All-Illinois Academic Team, a special recognition based on outstanding academic performance and service to the college and community. They are Julie Anco of Frankfort, Halie Kohl of Herscher and Thomas Daily of St. Anne.
The KCC Outstanding Faculty Member Awards for 2023 will be presented to Kristine Salmons, professor for the Electrical Engineering Technology Program; and Dana Corlett-Bryant, adjunct professor for English and speech programs.
The recipient of the John M. Fulton Distinguished Alumni Award is Tocarra Eldridge-Robinson, a 2003 KCC graduate who is founder and executive director of Still I Rise, a nonprofit organization founded in 2014.
The ceremony will stream live on commencement.kcc.edu. Social media users can use #KCCgrad2023 to congratulate graduates.
The ceremony will last about 90 minutes.
For guests needing assistance or special accommodations, entry will begin at 8:45 a.m. General seating will take place from 9-9:55 a.m. Guests are asked not to bring balloons and other large items that could obstruct the view of others. The college also will have an overflow room where the ceremony will be streamed live.
KCC is located at 100 College Drive in Kankakee, south of downtown Kankakee.
In her words: Meghann Rosemary Miller
Associate in Arts transfer degree
“I began this journey after high school in 2003, with a class here and there. I have taken several breaks. In 2016, I decided to begin again, this time I became pregnant with my first born and through a rough pregnancy I managed my first semester. My husband received his degree from KCC 2016. One of my first classes back was one of his last. Restarting the journey with him pushed me to follow through. I slowly went through courses while working full-time and being a new mom. I was set to graduate in 2020 when I had to take a medical leave when I became pregnant with my second child. He was born in 2020 during the lockdown. After two years, I decided to go back to work, and they actually encouraged me to go back to school. I realized that after those two classes, I really only needed one more to graduate. So finally, after 20 years, I have a degree and can make my children proud and let them know to never give up and with enough dedication and hard work anything is possible.”
Miller’s two children are now ages 3 and 6. They participate in organized sports and other activities. She is going to take a break from college, and plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree once they are in school.