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Project RISE celebrates success

April 22, 2016

It was an evening full of pride and a celebration of success at the 2016 Project RISE recognition ceremony held April 21 on Heartland’s Normal campus.

Project RISE is part of TRiO, a group of federally funded college opportunity programs that motivate and support students academically. Specifically, Project RISE helps community college students who are first-generation, low-income and/or disabled remain in college, graduate and transfer to four-year institutions. At its annual recognition ceremony, 75 students were acknowledged for their involvement in the program and academic achievements.

In his closing address, Vice President for Learning and Student Success, Dr. Rick Pearce, said Project RISE is an approach that fully engages its participants and is a program that really works.

Each semester, Project RISE students participate in numerous college skill and success workshops on a variety of topics including finances, time management, careers and study tips. They also embark on college visits and cultural events throughout the community.

For people like Angell Davis, the program and its opportunities provide a path to success. Davis, a 2008 HCC graduate and ceremony speaker, joined Project RISE as a non-traditional student. “I was confused and didn’t know what I was doing,” she recalled. “But Project RISE helped me with everything, including my transition to ISU.”

After her transfer to Illinois State, Davis remained involved in TRiO, eventually becoming their graduate assistant and full-time employee for five years. Just recently, she moved into a new role as coordinator for professional development and staff training. “Even though I don’t work with students anymore, I make sure that what I do with professionals helps students succeed.”

Many achievements were recognized at the Project RISE ceremony, including high grade point averages, scholarship recipients and honor society memberships. The ceremony gave recognition to special members within Project RISE including rising stars, peer mentors and outstanding mentees. Understanding that success is not possible without support from faculty and staff, students recognized several Heartland employees at the ceremony.

As students continue their journeys, Davis and Pearce offered some parting words.

“Never let a statistic define you,” said Davis. “Use every resource available to you and invest in yourself. Whatever your goal may be, research it. Know what it means to your life and future and invest in it. Then, you’ll really see your full potential.”

“I don’t need to tell you how much you can benefit from taking part in Project RISE, you’re living proof,” commented Pearce. “For those of you graduating next month, congratulations and all the best as you move on.”

Written by: Becky Gropp