Woman to receive College of Lake County diploma from her daughter

  • Theresa Ruscheinski, left, will receive her diploma Saturday at College of Lake County from her daughter, Nicole Ruscheinski-Herion, who is an academic adviser at the college in Grayslake.

    Theresa Ruscheinski, left, will receive her diploma Saturday at College of Lake County from her daughter, Nicole Ruscheinski-Herion, who is an academic adviser at the college in Grayslake. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

Updated 5/12/2016 6:48 AM

Long Grove resident Theresa Ruscheinski said she'll be fulfilling a bucket-list wish and living the American dream when she receives her College of Lake County diploma that's been 27 years in the making.

As if receiving the sheepskin wouldn't be enough for Ruscheinski, 68, it'll be presented to her on stage at Saturday's commencement by her daughter, Nicole Ruscheinski-Herion, a CLC academic adviser. CLC President Jerry Weber granted permission for Ruscheinski-Herion to do the honor for her mother.


"It makes it so much more special," Ruscheinski said of receiving the two-year degree from her daughter.

"Amazing, actually."

"I think it'll be a very emotional experience for both of us," Ruscheinski-Herion said Wednesday.

Ruscheinski, a preschool teacher at Montessori World of Discovery in Buffalo Grove, was a child when she came to the United States from Austria with her family. She said part of the American dream is attending college and receiving a degree.

"On the top of my bucket list was not just health, which everybody wishes, but a college degree," she said. "I was 9 years old when we came to this country, and my dad had two jobs, my mother worked, everybody worked in order to make life comfortable."

Ruscheinski will receive an associate in general studies degree, which the Illinois Board of Higher Education approved for College of Lake County in June 2015.

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However, the general studies degree didn't exist when Ruscheinski attended CLC from 1989 to 1996. She took general courses, such as law, political science, childhood development and Spanish, to further her education.

Aware of the new degree, Ruscheinski-Herion, who also lives in Long Grove, examined her mother's CLC academic records in August. With the 63 credit hours earned at CLC and 15 more that transferred from Elgin Community College, she found her mother topped the 60 required for the general studies diploma.

"I kind of looked through and did the math on it, and she had a degree sitting in there that we just needed to fill out the graduation application and all of that," Ruscheinski-Herion said.

Offered for the first time in fall 2015, the general studies degree program is designed for students who are undecided about future education or career goals, or whose academic goals are not met by other offerings, CLC Provost Richard Haney said.


Ruscheinski will be among the graduates in the first of two ceremonies Saturday in CLC's physical education center at the flagship Grayslake campus. The college will confer 2,023 degrees and certificates to 1,854 graduates.

CLC officials said the oldest graduate will be Alton Grant, 72, of Vernon Hills, with a medical billing specialist certificate. The youngest will be Kristina Wojcik, 18, of Lake Zurich, who earned an associate in science degree.

Meanwhile, Ruscheinski's family will have another important stop Saturday after her CLC graduation. The party won't start until after her daughter receives a doctorate in higher education administration in an afternoon ceremony at Benedictine University in Lisle.

"We have a band, the whole thing," Ruscheinski said.

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