Sandburg at 50: Andrea Vitale: Education is worth the investment – Galesburg Register-Mail

Andrea Ferretti Vitale

Education enhances lives. It has made all the difference in mine, not once, but twice.

Carl Sandburg College is one of three colleges that gave me the education I needed for two careers I loved. It is time to give back. I challenge other Sandburg alumni and friends to do the same during Sandburg’s 50th Anniversary.

I have donated $5,000 to the college’s annual fund this September. If we raise $100,000 by the end of September 2017, I will add another $5,000. Many people give to their four-year colleges but forget community colleges. It is time to remember Sandburg.

In addition, in memory of my late husband Guy L. Vitale Jr., another $10,000 will be donated for a scholarship in his name. Guy, as president of G & M Distributors Inc., worked with Jim Peelle, the late Sandburg instructor, to offer students real business experience. They established a kiosk at the Sandburg Mall and sold Pepsi logo items and other products. Guy enjoyed the program and developed a friendship with Peelle.

As a Sandburg Foundation Board member for two years, I have evaluated scholarship application essays. The need is great in our community. A father may be returning to school to better his income for his family. A young person being supported by a single mother may be working to fund an education. Families may be supporting children with disabilities and are unable to help the college-bound son or daughter.

Many years ago scholarships were not as plentiful, so I am happy Sandburg has donors to help current students, but many more could be served. Sandburg graduates may become the nurse tending to your mother, the mortician helping with your grief, the teacher instructing your child, the welder assembling your farm equipment, or the technician setting up your computer.

It is a struggle to pay for a college education. As a young person, I worked many jobs and had help from my family to attend college. My parents quit high school during the Depression to support their family. I was a first generation college student. At one point I feared I would have to drop out because of the costs involved. Luckily, I became a residence hall assistant, and the University of Missouri paid for my room and board. I also took out a student loan for tuition.

I graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism and came to Galesburg for my first job as a reporter for The Register-Mail. After six years, I left that job to have children. When my children were in junior high and high school, I decided to get back into the working world, but a journalist’s hours were not conducive to raising children. What would I do?

My first step was to meet with Dan Yasenko, a Sandburg counselor, to take a career preference test. With his advice, I returned to school for a second degree, this time to teach English at the high school level. Some coursework could be completed at Sandburg before heading to Western Illinois University for my teaching certificate.

I was in my early 40s when I returned to school. After years at home, starting school again was a scary proposition. Sandburg instructors like Norm Burdick, Cathy White, Jill Johnson and Mary Robson helped restore my confidence. I later earned my second bachelor of arts and a master of arts at WIU. I taught English and journalism at Galesburg High School for 12 years.

Why share my story? Why give to Carl Sandburg College? I am indebted to Sandburg for helping me find my self-confidence and a second career.

Please join me in donating to Sandburg to help others succeed! We all win with an educated workforce.

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October 7, 2016 at 03:50AM

Sandburg at 50: Andrea Vitale: Education is worth the investment – Galesburg Register-Mail

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