In less than a year, Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo has enrolled more than 550 students in English Language Learning classes.
Family Literacy Coordinator Laura Hidlebaugh says while that number is impressive, what’s more remarkable is that the students come from 38 countries.
“They’re responsible students and parents and community citizens working on becoming U.S. citizens, but from so many different countries," she said. “But within those countries there’s so much diversity in those first languages.”
More than 70 students were recognized in a ceremony today. They received honors for participating in literacy and basic skills classes and for being ambassadors for the program. Nearly two dozen were awarded scholarships.
The keynote speaker was Christophe Shabani Kumbelu. He says part of his name means “father to many", so he is paying forward his success.
“My message would just be to encourage them that’s is possible to succeed here in the United States." he said, “There are many good people here who you can ask for help."
Kumbelu is a native of Congo. He has received a scholarship from the University of Northern Iowa and plans to be an accountant.