Chicago-area grads recognized for success in achieving careers

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Kenneth Clair, Computer Aided Design/Architectural Drafting — Chicago, IL

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To honor the 2012 Westwood Success Stories from Illinois, Westwood College is donating $10,000 to A Better Chicago, whose mission is to create opportunity through early childhood development, K-12 education and workforce development. A Better Chicago provides funding and management support to high-performing nonprofit organizations that are dramatically advancing opportunities for the region's low-income population.

The 2012 Westwood Success Stories is a group of 100 graduates demonstrating exceptional success in pursuing careers in the face of a tough economic environment and personal challenges after getting a degree from Westwood College. From a variety of degree programs and located across the country, this group's collective determination and dedication are an inspiration to current Westwood College students, faculty and staff showing them through personal accounts how the hands-on training students receive from a career college education pays off.

Of the 100 graduates recognized, 18 are from the Chicago area and include:

River Oaks Campus (Calumet City, IL)

· Blanca Arteaga, Construction Management - Chicago, IL

· Courtney Vance, Computer Aided Design/Architectural Drafting - Gary, IN

· Ebonee Sims, Criminal Justice: Major in Administration - Calumet Park, IL

· Nicholas Henry, Construction Management - Calumet City, IL

· William Bass, Construction Management - Calumet City, IL

· Heather Bingham, Medical Assisting - Hammond, INDuPage Campus (Woodridge, IL)

· Brenda Gray, Construction Management - Plainfield, IL

· Carrie Collura, Graphic Design: Major in Visual Communications - Naperville, IL

· Pedro Gonzalez, Graphic Design: Major in Visual Communications - Aurora, IL

Chicago Loop Campus (Downtown Chicago)

· Christopher Torres, Construction Management - Round Lake Beach, IL

· Kenneth Clair, Computer Aided Design/Architectural Drafting - Chicago, IL

· Nicasio Sanchez, Computer Aided Design/Architectural Drafting - Chicago, IL

O'Hare Airport Campus (Chicago)

· Cynthia Boeche, Criminal Justice: Major in Administration - Hoffman Estates, IL

· Debbie McLaughlin, Medical Assisting-Chicago, IL

· Elkin Jimenez, Criminal Justice: Major in Administration - Chicago, IL

· Leticia Alvarado, Medical Assisting - Chicago, IL

· Przemyslaw Rog, Criminal Justice: Major in Administration - Brownstown, MI

· Rebecca Proctor, Criminal Justice: Major in Administration - Elgin, IL

The Westwood Success testimonials are presented in personal profiles, photos and videos featured online at and are seen across campuses on signs and in books made available to students. The stories represent the diverse student population of Westwood College and provide straightforward, first-person insights into the obstacles and challenges many people face when making a decision about furthering their education.

"It is such an honor for all of us in the Westwood College family to share in the success of our Westwood Success graduates," said Bruce McKenzie, campus president at Westwood College - River Oaks in Calumet City, IL. "The power in each individual story speaks to the determination, hard work and personal sacrifice our students and graduates undertake to achieve their goals. This is not an easy economic climate for any job seeker, but our graduates have embraced their education, the support provided here on campus and overcome sometimes overwhelming challenges to launch their careers."

Westwood Success Stories graduates serve as ambassadors for more than 30,000 Westwood College graduates who have gained real-world experience from classes led by industry professionals. These students now use their Westwood degrees to launch, change or transform their careers.

Collectively, the students represented in the Westwood Success Stories program faced numerous challenges in order to earn their degrees. These hurdles include lack of family and peer support, single-parent childcare obligations, juggling multiple jobs or lack of transportation to and from campus.

Nearly half of the students attending Westwood are single parents and most are working either full- or part-time while getting their education. More than 60 percent of students are the first in their families to pursue a higher education degree, and many have been unsuccessful at traditional and community college programs.

Westwood College congratulates these exceptional men and women featured as the second round of Westwood Success Stories alumni and looks forward to celebrating the successes of all our graduates for years to come.

To learn more about the Westwood Success Stories program go to You can also watch testimonial videos of select Westwood Success graduates on Westwood's YouTube channel.

About Westwood College: Westwood College is an institution of higher learning with 14 campuses located in California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois and Virginia. Westwood offers a hands-on, career-focused curriculum in fields such as healthcare, technology and business. Westwood is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). A 2012 survey conducted by Noel-Levitz showed Westwood students are significantly more satisfied than the comparison group of approximately 125 public and private colleges, particularly in the areas of course content, quality of instruction and the school meeting their career goals. For more information, visit