SALISBURY, N.C. – Rowan-Cabarrus Community College recently held a completion ceremony for 11 students in its Skills, Opportunity, Awareness, Readiness (S.O.A.R.) program for adults with intellectual disabilities, along with five students in the English Language Learner/ESL program.
The students received their diplomas in their caps and gowns and were congratulated by faculty and staff, friends, and family. The College created a festive atmosphere for the ceremony, with music, signs, tents, a firetruck, and a large American flag flying above the event site at North Campus. The College’s mascot, a red-tailed hawk named Beacon, also was on hand to congratulate the graduates on their accomplishments. The event culminated with a lunch and reception.
“The S.O.A.R. program has helped me with so many things,” said former graduate Kendall Ferguson, who now has a job in the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College business office. “The program taught me to accept the fact that I have a disability and embrace it. It taught me to love myself and who I am and to know my limits, but also push them.”
S.O.A.R. students receiving diplomas were Nicholas Black, Carl (Trey) Childers III, Tommy Lee Jr., Katyanna Dittmeier, Aerial Hanno, Sydney Lewis, Katherine Osterhus, Kathaleen Scott, Corey Steele, Zoe Pressley and Jackie Allison.
ELL/ESL students receiving diplomas were Vinh Chau, Esdras Espinoza Arteaga, Diego Garcia Ruiz, Jorge Perdomo Ayala and Viengxai Vanalath Phetsomphou.
The S.O.A.R. curriculum focuses on helping individuals become more independent and self-directed by teaching specific skills needed to function successfully in daily life. Classes are built around each student’s unique strengths and goals, covering functional academics, community living, health and safety, leisure activities, and humanities. Students in the program use computers and other technology and participate in campus and community activities tuition-free.
The English Language Learner (ELL/ESL) program assists students whose native language is not English gain skills in reading, listening, writing and speaking English. This allows them to participate more fully in American society and/or achieve their full academic potential in learning environments where instruction is delivered largely or entirely in English.
“We are so proud of our graduating S.O.A.R. and ESL students and, in addition to celebrating their accomplishments, we treasure the many wonderful lessons they have taught us,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus. “At Rowan-Cabarrus, we are passionate about meeting all students where they are and empowering them to go as far as they can go.”