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Dreams fulfilled, journeys begun with CCS adult education graduation

UPDATED: Tue., June 11, 2019

Asma Abdulmohsin, center, says the Pledge of Allegiance during the Spokane Community College Adult Education Commencement in Spokane on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. She is an ESL graduate from Iraq. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Asma Abdulmohsin, center, says the Pledge of Allegiance during the Spokane Community College Adult Education Commencement in Spokane on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. She is an ESL graduate from Iraq. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
By Emma Epperly The Spokesman-Review

For Asma Abdulmohsin, it was the next step.

As she sees it, her graduation Tuesday from the English as a Second Language program at Spokane Community College only leads to more.

“I will help my family, do something with my life,” said the woman who moved to the United States from Iraq in 2017 and now plans to pursue a degree in business management.

Abdulmohsin joined 456 graduates from SCC’s Adult Basic Education program Tuesday night in celebrating their accomplishments with family and friends. Some, like Abdulmohsin, had completed the college’s ESL program, while others had successfully finished a GED, high school diploma or College to Career program.

The graduates chatted, took photos and thanked faculty as they prepared to line up for the commencement ceremony.

Sherri Fujita was excited for her first graduation as the new dean of the Adult Basic Education and Transitional Studies Department.

“This is a huge group of people with amazing potential,” Fujita said. “It’s kind of a second chance for a lot of people.”

One of those people is Elizabeth Lual, who received her high school diploma after moving to the United States from Ethiopia five years ago.

Lual started high school at 18 and was unable to complete a traditional high school education because of her age, so she finished her coursework through the Adult Basic Education program.

“This means a lot to me because I finished, and now I can move forward,” said Lual, who plans to attend Eastern Washington University in the fall.

Students who earned a large amount of high school credits but did not graduate can complete their remaining one to three credits through the High School Completion Program.

The General Educational Development, or GED, program allows students to study and take a test that serves as a high school equivalent.

Bobbi-Jo Francis smiled as her 7-month-old baby cooed. She received her GED, with honors, after dropping out of high school when she was 16.

The program made everything from signing up for classes to learning the material so simple for her, Francis said.

“It’s a chance to move forward,” Francis said of her GED. She hopes to continue her education and become a teacher or work in child care.

David Sanchez completed the People Accessing Careers and Education, or PACE, program, a supported education program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Students participate in one- or two-year college experiences that are based on inclusion with the larger student body.

Sanchez spoke during the graduation ceremony.

“I was afraid and anxious about starting something new after high school,” Sanchez said. “It was challenging, but I did every assignment in my own way.”

Sanchez is taking courses to get a child care certificate and said the program “opened doors to success.”

The ceremony was raucous in keeping with its reputation as “the rowdiest graduation in town,” which SCC President Kevin Brockbank encouraged.

He noted the graduates have faced a lot of challenges but had overcome them.

That spirit of perseverance echoed through the evening.

“You’re going to see lots of people who never believed they could do this, and now they’re here doing it,” Fujita said.

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