Federal official champions adult learning programs

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U.S. Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education Brenda Dann-Messier and Pima Community College Chancellor Lee Lambert discuss the importance of adult education during a roundtable discussion. The event was held Sept. 11 at El Pueblo Liberty Adult Learning Center in Tucson, Ariz. Andrew Paxton/Aztec Press

By ANDREW PAXTON

 

The federal government’s lead official on adult education heard nothing but praise for Pima Community College’s programs during a recent visit.

 

Brenda Dann-Messier, U.S. assistant secretary for vocational and adult education, toured El Pueblo Liberty Adult Learning Center on Sept. 11 before participating in a roundtable discussion led by PCC Chancellor Lee Lambert.

 

The visit gave Dann-Messier an opportunity to learn firsthand about Pima’s General Educational Development and other adult education programs.

 

“We can’t develop public policies without knowing what you need,” she told the dozens of educators and students in attendance.

 

Most of those who addressed the assistant secretary did not ask for anything. Instead, they told Dann-Messier what the programs have already given them.

 

“I was able to accomplish my dreams,” Laura Farias said. Farias is a former student who now works with PCC’s Adult Education program.

 

Others shared why they chose to pursue an education.

 

“I realized if I didn’t learn, I couldn’t teach my children,” Nancy Esquivel said.

 

Since June 2012, more than 1,500 students have received GED diplomas through PCCAE and thousands more have improved literacy, learned English and prepared for community college or vocational training, according to a press release from the college.

 

Both Dann-Messier and Lambert pledged to continue making adult education in Tucson a success story for so many individuals.

 

“As chancellor, this is personal for me,” Lambert said.

 

“You have a friend in Washington,” Dann-Messier told the crowd.

 

She expressed hope that those who have benefited from the adult education programs will inspire their friends and families.

 

“This community needs to support everyone else in this community,” she said.

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