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CAEL Pathways Blog

Joining the Ambassador Program:Links between my profession and CAEL's mission

CAEL is grateful for the expertise and experience its Ambassadors lend each day to the CAEL community. Recently, CAEL announced its 2023 Ambassadors, which include Angel Maguire, who is adult education director of instructional services for Illinois Eastern Community Colleges. Angel completed her master's degree in adult education last December and her microcredential in leadership in higher education in February 2023 at Southern Oregon University. While attending the online graduate program at SOU, she was encouraged and inspired by peers from all over the country and some even overseas. They shared their areas of expertise, challenges, and aha moments to further enrich each other's professional as well as personal lives.

'Adult education is just that,' said Angel. 'It is an experience that we share with other adult learners that is enhanced by our prior learning experiences and furthers someone else's walk. While I am an adult and continuing education educator, I am also a perpetual student. My learners and my instructors know that I am learning right alongside them and growing because of what they are bringing into my life. Because I have had the opportunity to really get to know them, I find myself advocating for them and their successes. This in a nutshell encompasses some of my connections and passions for adult education.'

Below, Angel shares what inspired her to join the CAEL Ambassador program.

The CAEL community was introduced to me as a student working toward my master's degree in Adult Education and Leadership in Higher Education. One of the key Ambassadors and my advisor/mentor spoke highly of this community and the valuable resources and connections that can be gained for myself and my organization. I am a long-standing member of the Illinois Adult and Continuing Education Association and the Coalition of Adult and Basic Education, as well as the Illinois Digital Learning Lab now known as a national cohort, The Digital Learning Lab of ScaleLIT.

These organizations, community groups, and cohorts pour into my professional organization, my instructors, and my learners and add value to what I do on a daily basis. When introduced to CAEL, I saw a valuable opportunity to expand my networking reach and further understand what other organizations similar to mine are experiencing in adult education throughout the nation.

I currently lead the Illinois Eastern Community College's (IECC) Adult Education Instructional Services Team, overseeing instructors, curricula, resources, course building, professional development, training events, marketing and recruitment of the classes and the program. Within the IECC Adult Education program, we offer high school equivalency courses, English as a Second Language, and Career Bridge courses. Our student population ranges from beginner level students to advanced learners, students who are seeking to further their education and those preparing to better themselves in the workforce. Our program speaks not only to college and career readiness but helps learners build digital literacy awareness along with academic engagement.

The CAEL community offers opportunities to network with postsecondary institutions, employers, community action agencies, and businesses across the nation that can enhance our organization through shared resources, inspiration, and policy awareness that can benefit the IECC communities. Through an understanding of lifelong learning solutions, resources, and innovative inspiration to grow our learners and our communities with new reaches, CAEL becomes a game changing experience for IECC. Until my experience at Southern Oregon University with Dr. Amy Belcastro, (my advisor, mentor, and fellow ambassador ), I had not heard of CAEL. Now I am very grateful to bring this community into mine!

Why I decided to join:
After becoming a CAEL member in 2022 and experiencing the first CAEL Conference in Chicago, IL as an educator and presenter, I was sold on diving into this community! CAEL professionals, associates, and representatives embody what it means to support and advocate for success in adult and continuing education. From witnessing the student successes honored at this year's conference, and seeing the comradery exhibited among everyone who attended and put the event together, I knew that this was a life-giving establishment and desired this to be a part of my educational and professional enrichment. I have a vision that CAEL will be on my professional organization's radar by the end of this fiscal year. I am prepared to continue to present and pour into this community and attain valuable materials, resources, and connections for my instructors and learners.

My passion for Adult Education
As an adult education professional, I serve small rural communities in and around our 12-county Illinois Eastern Community Colleges district. I have been a professional in higher education and adult education for twelve years, teaching advocating, supporting, and coordinating articulations with surrounding universities and pursuing pathways for workforce development opportunities for our learners, and now I am serving as an Instructional Services Director for Adult Education.

My experience and training have taught me that life will always bring waves of change. A great perspective - the learners that we serve are in the same ocean, although some are on different boats, they all need the opportunity to learn to swim, sail, and succeed! We are given the distinct privilege to pour into learners' lives, encourage them, help them grow, and in turn we grow through the process. Equipping community members with the ability and knowledge to appropriately set SMART goals, pursue an education, and obtain a family-sustaining career will strengthen communities as a whole and ultimately the organizations within.

My personal appreciation, and reason behind my tenacity for seeing adult learners succeed, is that I have been given much in my walk through education and professionalism. I give back because I believe in the learners, I relate to their remarkable journeys and stories of overcoming, and I value the never-ending pursuit of lifelong learning. Giving back and advocating for adult education does not always look like a 9 - 5 job, it includes countless hours of communication and connection, advocacy at local, state, and national levels, outreach opportunities within the organizations we serve and within the communities our learners reside, and opportunities to show compassion, kindness, and perseverance. Serving in and being a part of the adult education community, while it has been challenging and sometimes nail-biting, has proven to be the most rewarding and beautiful experience that I, myself, as a learner and an educator, could have ever asked for.


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