28 Women English Learners Honored in DLC’s Class of 2021
Dominican Literacy Center, Aurora
June 10, 2021
AURORA—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 reflections.
The center held five morning ceremonies—Monday through Friday, May 24-28—at the center’s site at St. Therese Parish 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 Sister Kathleen and Sister Jane Ann 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 Sister 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. Katharine Drexel Parish in Sugar Grove.
Sister Kathleen recalled that the first DLC 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 Parish and graduated from the DLC’s 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.” Sister Ryan added that some tutors pivoted to Zoom sessions during the pandemic.
The 2020-2021 DLC 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. 
Info: 630-898-4636 or visit dominicanliteracycenter.org for more information.
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