Graduating women English learners: Aurora's Dominican literacy center honors 28 Class of 2021 grads
There was no "Pomp and Circumstance" procession. No mortar boards flung in the air. But 28 women celebrated graduation from Aurora's Dominican Literacy Center with tears, hugs and spoken memories.
The center held 25th annual ceremonies -- Monday through Friday, May 24-28 -- at the center's site at St. Therese Catholic Church on Aurora's far east side.
Culminating three years of study with volunteer tutors were residents of Aurora, North Aurora, Montgomery, Naperville, West Chicago and Yorkville.
Awarding certificates for study in reading, writing and speaking English were Dominican Sister Kathleen M. Ryan, OP, center director and founder; Sister Jane Ann Beckman, OP, tutor and citizenship instructor; and Alison Brzezinski, tutoring coordinator.
Brzezinski opened ceremonies by welcoming groups of students and their tutors to the event. She invited the new DLC alums to continue growing their literacy skills by attending conversation sessions at the center. Then Sr. Ryan and Sr. Beckman pinned yellow-rose corsages on students and tutors and presented graduation certificates. Students and tutors responded with brief reflections on their center experiences.
For a 15th year, corsages were handmade by Sr. Henrianne Schmidt, OP, 90, of the Dominican Sisters based at Springfield. Graduates were invited to take one of 38 Afghan blankets made by Barbara Kramer of Aurora, a DLC tutor and member of St. Katherine Drexel parish in Sugar Grove.
Sr. Ryan recalled that the first Dominican Literacy Center graduation was held in 1996. Eleven students who began tutoring sessions in fall 1993 were the first graduates. They began studies in the basement of Aurora's St. Nicholas Catholic Church and graduated from the present site.
She added, "The center's adult learners range in age, reading level and even language spoken, yet all progress under tutors' patient teaching. Their one-on-one conversations provide students with an array of vocabulary words to learn and practice."
Sr. Ryan added that some tutors pivoted to Zoom sessions during the pandemic.
2020-2021 classes ended May 28.
New students and tutors are invited to apply for classes starting Sept. 9. New-tutor training is scheduled for Aug. 17, 19, and 24, from 6 to 8:30 p.m.
Prospective students or tutors can apply through the center website, dominicanliteracycenter.org, or call (630) 898-4636. After a summer hiatus, the center will reopen Aug. 1 at 260 Vermont St. in Aurora.
Founded in 1993 by the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, the Dominican Literacy Center organizes female volunteer tutors to deliver free English classes to more than 150 immigrant women annually. Additionally, free citizenship classes are offered to both men and women.
Sister Kathleen Ryan, center founder and director, said the nonprofit's mission is to enable immigrant families to participate in their communities by learning to read, write and speak English.
The center has grown from five students and five teachers to 150 tutors serving 150 students from 16 countries annually. The center has served more than 2,000 Aurora-area residents since its founding.
Call (630) 898-4636 or visit dominicanliteracycenter.org for more information.