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When Janice and Sadie Wene completed the College of Lake County’s high-school equivalency graduation ceremony May 16 at the Grayslake Campus, they both knew their mom-and-daughter bond helped them achieve an educational milestone.
“Sadie and I have close relationship, and we kept each other going as we studied for the tests,” said Janice, 52, a single parent who has raised 18-year-old Sadie. “It was Sadie’s idea to study together, and giving each other accountability helped keep us going.”
The Wenes, who live in Gurnee, were two of 90 graduates recognized for completing their tests between May 2017 and May 2019. Like the rest of the graduates, the Wenes had to study to pass tests in math, English, social studies and science. For Janice, it meant relearning algebra and geometry literally decades after her first attempt in high school.
As a teenager living in west-suburban Chicago in the early 1980s, a “difficult home situation” forced her to leave home, drop out of high school and begin working accounting- and office-related jobs.
Photo: From left, Janice Wene and daughter, Sadie, celebrate earning their high school equivalency diplomas May 16 at the Grayslake Campus.
Although Janice has since become an office manager for a manufacturing firm, her lack of a high-school diploma never sat well with her. “Just about every company today requires at least a high-school level diploma,” she said. “It shows that you have completed an education in essential subjects, such as proper English, that you need for the workforce.”
Sadie, who said she had difficulty adjusting to her high school environment, left in the middle of her sophomore year. But with her mom’s encouragement, she never lost sight of the value of an education, juggling her studies with two full-time jobs, one as a nanny, and the other working at a horse stable.
In the fall, Sadie plans to enroll at CLC. After earning an associate degree, she plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in special education, then channel her passion for horses into a career in hippo therapy. The practice helps children with special needs by allowing them to take a gentle ride on a horse.
“Horses are incredibly powerful animals,” said Sadie, who has worked at a stable since age 10. “They love unconditionally and that’s something kids need. I’ve seen special-needs children get on a horse and transform from not talking to stuttering and then to pronouncing colors names or numbers. As a hippo therapist, I will be able to see that I made a difference in someone’s life.”
As Sadie sets sights on her career, Janice said her own next step is to enroll in a realtor training program. She plans to become a full broker, allowing her to own a real-estate agency and manage a staff of agents.
In the meantime, both said they were honored to be recognized for attaining their high-school equivalency diploma. “The graduation itself was motivating,” said Janice, admitting that she shed a tear during the event. “It was really great that that CLC honors a high-school equivalency graduation. The commencement speakers were so encouraging and understanding that all our lives didn’t allow us to finish high school at the normal age. But we came back, and we did it, despite family and work commitments. We really did it.”
The ceremony was sponsored by the college’s Adult Education and ESL division, along with the Lake County Regional Office of Education. For details on the commencement, call the Adult Education and ESL division office at (847) 543-2024.
To learn more about earning a high-school equivalency credential at CLC, visit www.clcillinois.edu or call (847) 543-2021 or (847) 543-2445. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
About College of Lake County:
College of Lake County is an innovative community college in Lake County, Ill. that transforms lives with its variety of accessible, quality education options. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, College of Lake County provides affordable options in a state-of-the-art setting close to home. A large student network, with small class sizes, provides advantages to our students on a career-related program or a path toward a transfer degree. We’re proud to serve the diverse needs of our community and student body. Connect to your future today at College of Lake County.
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