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Prairie State Student Makes Higher Education a Family Affair

As she prepares graduate, Radiance Walker has paved the way for three of her family members to do the same.

When she walks across the stage to receive her diploma during the commencement ceremony May 19, associate degree recipient Radiance Walker can be proud of the legacy she is leaving behind at Prairie State College (PSC). And, that legacy will likely be in the audience cheering her on.

While a student at PSC, Walker convinced her sister, brother, and even her mother to pursue their studies at PSC. Now, all four have brighter futures because of their decision to attend PSC.

"PSC provided me opportunities to meet people and become involved and I have loved my time here. Now, I’m ready to move on to the next step," Radiance said.

She says her experience at PSC was so positive, she wanted her family to have the same chance at success. She first approached her mother, Linda, who had tried once to attend college more than five years before.

Linda Walker, mother of the three Walker children, Radiance, Essence, and Jordan, actually had attended PSC six years ago, hoping to pursue a nursing degree. But, family and financial obligations prohibited her from finishing at that time. After her two younger children had grown, Linda says Radiance approached her and convinced her that the obstacles were no longer there, and there was no reason she couldn’t try again.

“She told me, ‘Mom, you can do it. Come to school with me. I can help you,’” Linda Walker recounts of her conversation with Radiance. Essence, too, encouraged their mother to pursue her dream.

Linda is happy she listened.

“It’s great to be back in school,” she said. “I’m thankful to my daughters for convincing me to go. All the free time I spent being mad at my job and feeling stuck is now being used for schoolwork,” she added.

Linda hopes to continue pursuing her goal of working in the health profession, either in nursing or health administration.

While Essence Walker’s ultimate goal is to go to school in Los Angeles, Calif., she says Radiance’s encouragement to start at PSC to save money and start by earning an associate degree was a “good choice, and I don’t regret it.”

As a student at PSC, Essence already has made her mark. She is on the staff of the Student Reviewnewspaper, and is president and founder of the Gay/Straight Alliance at PSC. Essence says she originally wanted to be a journalist, and working on the paper has helped her hone her skills.

“I have a love for words, quite frankly,” the aspiring screenwriter added.

Middle sibling Jordan also was inspired by his mother’s and sisters’ choices, and has started the GED program at PSC. After completing the program, he plans to pursue an associate degree in music production.

“I have always been interested in the field, and currently do some production in my spare time,” he said. Though he already has some experience in music engineering and producing instrumentals, he says, “I want to complete the degree program at PSC so I can perfect my craft.”

Though the family members say their schedules don’t allow them to study together very often, they continue to encourage each other as each semester passes. They say that Radiance’s graduation is just the first of what will be a string of family celebrations in the coming years.

And Radiance, who plans to plans to travel in Europe after graduation, and then attend University of Florida to study international business with a minor in marketing, can add her family’s commitment to education to her list of many successes since becoming a student at PSC.

-Submitted by

Arthur W. Wiggins Jr. May 18, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Excellent story. What you can achieve starting out at Prairie State is simply amazing. Dedication and determination is all that person needs. As the school's slogan states "Start near and go far!"

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