By MICHEAL ROMERO
It’s never too late for education.
That was the message Feb. 17 when two Pima Community College students joined U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona, on stage at a Community Campus ceremony.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony marked a name change for the college’s adult education program to Adult Basic Education for College and Career.
The name change reflects a closer relationship with three workforce and employment partners: Pima County OneStop, Vocational Rehabilitation and the Arizona Department of Economic Security Employment Services.
The festivities were also part of Arizona Adult Literacy Week, an annual event that celebrates adult literacy and lifelong learning.
ABECC has provided services in Tucson for more than 40 years. Grijalva said his involvement began a long time ago, when his neighbors and other members of the community were striving to make something more of their situations.
“People who wanted to do a little more with their lives by getting their high school equivalency, wanted to learn English to become citizens or wanted to get some skill to help them get better pay to take care of their families,” Grijalva said.
“Those have always been the fundamental motivations for people to come to Adult Basic Education for College and Career,” he added.
Grijalva admitted he was initially hesitant for the program to join forces with PCC, but said the partnership will benefit students by preparing them for the next level of education after obtaining their high school equivalency.
PCC can bring college and career preparedness to adult basic education, Grijalva said. “It is now linked to an institution whose mission is the education of the residents of Pima County.”
Dominique Lewis, a student at Pima’s El Rio Learning Center, said she had never given secondary education a serious thought.
After she enrolled in El Rio’s GED program, however, she found the desire to attend Pima and then transfer to a four-year college. She’s now an AmeriCorps member, an ambassador for Adult Basic Education and is involved with the Student Leadership Council.
Lewis thanked her instructors for providing her with opportunities. “A little support can go a long way,” she said. “It gives us second chances and the willingness to be able to change our circumstances and to get things right to make a better future.”
Fellow student Israel González Jr. also thanked his instructors for inspiring him to achieve more than he believed was possible.
He obtained his GED in May 2015 and began classes at Pima in August 2015.
“A lot of my success, I owe it to the staff here at Pima and all of the learning centers,” Gonzalez said.
“The sky’s the limit here and they tell you that the first day at orientation, that you are a college student.”
ABECC will continue to provide adult learners with opportunities to increase basic skills, prepare to earn a high school equivalency diploma, take the GED test, learn English, increase civic involvement and develop the readiness skills to transition to jobs, vocational training and more education.
Pima joined other adult education and literacy groups from across the state to celebrate Arizona Adult Literacy Week Feb. 14-20.
Adult education students from across the state were recognized Feb. 18 at a ceremony in Phoenix. Students also toured the state capitol, visited with legislators and were introduced on the floors of the Senate and House.
The Community Campus ribbon cutting was followed by the 2016 National Adult Education Honor Society induction ceremony, which also featured remarks from Grijalva.
Honorees received certificates and two separate letters of recommendation to help with future opportunities.
Instructors nominated 12 students who met criteria set by the society.
The honorees were: Jose Luis Antunez, Carlos Argueta, Robert Austin, Charles Barlow, Joseph Fimbres, Sula Green, Adam Ibrahim, Dominique Lewis, Benjamin Marin, Rosa Quintana, Matias Rodriguez and Beatriz Castillejo Silva.