It was a handshake four decades in the making.
On Monday, Angela Piermarini – a Schaumburg resident who took her first Harper College classes as a fresh-out-of-high school teenager in 1970 – earned a personal congratulations from Harper President Dr. Kenneth Ender, who lauded her and her classmates for successfully completing a College credential.
Working through Harper’s Fast Track accelerated program for adults, Piermarini has finished her General Management Certificate at age 60. In May, she’ll cross the stage at Harper’s formal commencement with her next credential – an associate degree in Management – and an even bigger smile.
“This is something I’ve always wanted to achieve,” says Piermarini, who took on a career in the hospitality industry and raised her daughter before returning to Harper to finish the educational goal she’d set years earlier. “I have always had the work experience, and now I’ll have the credential.”
The informal Monday event honored the more than 55 Fast Track students who’d earned a new credential – 20 more than last fall – and drew a crowd of fiercely proud family members and words of praise from Dr. Ender, who noted the example of success they have set for today’s children.
“It felt good to be able to take a moment to say that I’ve accomplished something,” Piermarini said. “It was rewarding to say, ‘You know, I’ve done this.’ It was a really big thing.”
This kind of success runs in the family: her adult daughter also returned to Harper for an associate degree before transferring to Southern Illinois University, where she’s pursuing a journalism degree.
“We help each other sometimes,” Piermarini said, laughing.
Harper’s Fast Track program offers accelerated coursework, a flexible schedule and a cohort format that progresses students through classes together as a group, giving adults like Piermarini – who enjoyed the one-day-a-week class time and support from fellow students – a top shot at success.
New students can earn an associate in applied science degree in Business Administration and a variety of certificates in areas including Health Insurance Billing and Human Resource Management.
“This program works well because of its format, the instructors and the students who participate in it,” Fast Track Manager Maggi Franks says. “Whether they come here seeking a new career or looking to finish a higher education goal they’d set years earlier, they arrive eager to succeed, and we’re here to make sure they do finish and do move forward successfully. Everyone who completes this program may be inspiring someone else to do the same.”
For more information on Fast Track, visit the program's page online.