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PSC Alumna Addresses 2019 Graduates During 60th Commencement Ceremony

PSC Alumna Addresses 2019 Graduates During 60th Commencement Ceremony [05/31/2019]

commencement speaker

“No dream is too small for a Prairie State College graduate!  Live your dreams.  Lead with integrity.  Remember who raised you! Now, go and make us proud!”

Prairie State College alumna and sociology professor at MacCormac College in Chicago, Dr. Yesenia N. Avalos, gave these encouraging words to the graduates at the 60th Annual Commencement Ceremony at PSC on May 18, 2019.

Avalos addressed a packed house, including more than 300 graduates, their guests, PSC faculty, administration and members of the Board of Trustees.

During her address, Avalos stressed the value of a community college, and the impact it had on her personal career successes, commending the graduates for choosing to start their career at PSC.

“Community college is just that - the college that serves its community,” she said.  No truer words can be spoken of Prairie State College. PSC is here for each of us. It has served us all well, and will continue to serve our neighbors well,” she added.

Avalos, who started her college education at PSC in 1990, said she chose to start at PSC because it was the “best choice” for her, adding that she had been involved in activities at the college since she was six years old.

“Prairie State has been home to me since I was a little girl,” she said, adding that her aunts, cousins and even grandmother had attended classes at PSC during her childhood.

“Prairie State College wasn’t a last resort for me.  It was my first choice; my first stepping stone to who I am today.”

After leaving PSC, Avalos earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree in sociology from Western Illinois University (WIU) and an Ed.D degree from National-Louis University. She has worked in higher education for more than 20 years, beginning as an athletic academic advisor and fitness assistant at PSC. She then served as an admissions counselor and multicultural recruitment coordinator and then as assistant director of admissions for WIU. She also has served as a college advisor and then associate dean of student services/student development at City Colleges of Chicago – Richard J. Daley College. She then served as dean of student development and ombuds services with Morton College in Cicero, and then as associate dean of instruction for City Colleges of Chicago – Olive-Harvey College, before becoming a full-time faculty member at MacCormac College.

As part of the commencement ceremony, PSC President Dr. Terri L. Winfree presented Avalos with an honorary associate degree.

While I said that Dr. Avalos started as a student at Prairie State College, she transferred to her bachelor’s degree program before earning her associate degree from PSC. I am pleased that we have come full circle to change that today,” Winfree said.