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Lt. Gov. Simon delivers Kishwaukee commencement address 

MALTA – May 17, 2014. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon delivered the commencement address to Kishwaukee College’s Class of 2014 today and encouraged them to share their stories and successes to inspire others to pursue higher education.

“Today we recognize your dedication and perseverance,” Simon said. “Many of the students graduating have experienced hardships and a tough road to get here today. You are all a testament to what can be accomplished with determination and hard work.”

During her speech to the approximately 200 graduates and 1000 attendees, Simon referenced two in the graduating class and the paths they took to complete their degree, and along the way made significant marks on their school, families and communities.

Doraelia Navejas is a mother of five and first generation college graduate. She is the daughter of migrant workers who instilled the importance of a hard work ethic when she was young. She and her three sisters have graduated from the Kishwaukee nursing program, Simon said.

Paul Belcher grew up in DeKalb. He had good luck with jobs as a drafter but when the housing market dissolved he lost his job and went to work at a pizza place. Wanting to set a strong example for his 15-year-old daughter, Belcher is pursuing a drafting and engineering education at Kishwaukee College. Belcher is excited to find work upon graduation and encourages students to pursue a degree and chase your goals even when it can be tough, said Simon.

“Doraelia and Paul have come so far and should be an inspiration to us all,” said Simon. “They never gave up and are ready to enter the workforce thanks to their time at Kishwaukee.”

Simon is supporting Senate Bill 16, which would provide local school districts with incentives to encourage students to earn college credit while still in high school through dual credit programs. This allows a student to get a jumpstart on a college credential or degree for free.

As the state's point person on education reform, Simon has visited all 48 community colleges in Illinois to discuss their completion efforts and convened Affordability Summits at each of Illinois’ 12 public university campuses to learn how best to address rising costs. She is working to increase the proportion of working-age adults with college degrees or certificates to 60 percent by 2025.