RAISE Graduation Ceremony at Rock Valley College

On Thursday, May 23, the Stenstrom Student Center Atrium at Rock Valley College was filled with excitement and pride as the community gathered to celebrate the RAISE Graduation Ceremony. The ceremony honored the incredible achievements of the students in the RAISE program, which stands for Raising Aspirations through an Inclusive Student Experience.


RAISE graduation

Students celebrate their achievements during the RAISE Graduation Ceremony on Thursday, May 23, 2024.

Since its beginning in 2010, the RAISE program has been dedicated to helping individuals with intellectual disabilities achieve their dreams of attending college and finding meaningful employment. The program provides a comprehensive college experience that includes interactive learning activities, independent living skills, work ethics, self-respect, and empowerment through education.

Family members, friends, faculty, and staff all gathered to celebrate the graduates. Rachel Boge, RAISE Program Coordinator, encouraged family and friends to become part of their student’s team in helping make their dreams a reality. “They have high aspirations and raise the bar for those around them. I encourage all of you to get to know this incredible group of students. Ask them about their dreams, then become a part of their team and encourage them to make their dreams a reality. I guarantee walking alongside them will energize and inspire you.”

The students, dressed in their graduation gowns, beamed with pride as their names were called one by one. They walked up to the stage to receive their certificates, each step symbolizing a significant accomplishment.

One of the highlights of the evening was a speech by Sarah Hinde, one of the RAISE graduates. Sarah spoke about her journey in the program, sharing how much she had grown and learned. “Only we can decide what we are capable of and we are capable of a lot. I see a bright future ahead for all of us and can’t wait to see where the world takes us. To the teachers and staff that have helped us along the way. We couldn’t have done any of this without you. You have poured so much love and energy into us and into this program. We see you and we thank you for that.”

The RAISE Graduation Ceremony was a perfect celebration of the students' hard work and the supportive community that helped them achieve their dreams. The graduates left the atrium with their certificates in hand, ready to embark on the next chapter of their lives, empowered by their education and experiences at Rock Valley College.