When Aifeng Chen first moved to the United States in 2012, she decided to take ESL (English as a Second Language) classes to learn English at Harold Washington College. She liked her classes so much and was so impressed with the faculty, she decided to go on to take credit classes.

While taking classes to complete her associate degree, she took a few breaks – when she had her first son in 2015 and then her second son in 2017. Anxiety made her doubt if she was ready to return to school when both her sons were so young and demanding of her time. It would mean juggling classes and being a mom, but Aifeng wanted to be the best she could possibly be. She decided to return to school, managing her time between academics and her family. “I have my time to study, and then there is time just for my family – no books, no phone, no laptop. After dinner and bed for my sons, I can get everything back out and start studying again.”

While at Harold Washington studying business and accounting, Aifeng used the Tutoring Center and the Writing Center for help when she needed it. She also notes that the faculty are passionate and are always available to help. “They aren’t just concerned with your grades, they are concerned about you. They are more than teachers – they are mentors.”

Her advice to students just starting out at CCC is to “decide what you really want to do, then put in the time and energy. I love the saying, ‘when you have a goal and passion in your heart, that goal will never be unaccomplished.’”

Aifeng kept pushing herself to come back to school not only for herself, but to set a good example for her boys. Now, not only have they seen her work hard, but they watched her walk across the stage to receive her diploma at graduation as Harold Washington College’s salutatorian in May 2018.

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