Paralegal students get national honors

September 20, 2018

Daily Journal Staff Report

KANKAKEE — Three Kankakee Community College graduates have been recognized for demonstrating leadership and civic power.

Taylor Bradley, of Bradley; Sara Cleveland, of St. Anne; and Marta “Mattie” Gulyash, of Kankakee, received the 2018 Democracy Commitment’s Bernie Ronan Award for Student Action in May. All three students are recent graduates of KCC’s paralegal and legal assistant studies program.

Bradley, Cleveland and Gulyash were selected for their project “Special Topics in Paralegal Studies: Self-Represented Litigant User Guides and Instructional Videos.” The students received $1,000 award to share, and the project will be featured in the first ever TDC Review as a best practice in civic engagement.

“Their self-represented litigant user guides have been used in our Kankakee Courthouse,” Kristine Condon, program coordinator for KCC’s paralegal and legal assistant studies program, said in a statement. “It’s thanks to the supervision of Chief Judge Michael Kramer, who sponsored our students’ nomination, that KCC’s commitment to civics engagement and access to justice has taken its rightful place on the national stage with these student-created projects.”

“The project is a national source of inspiration,” wrote Vernin Robinson, national director of the Democracy Commitment, in a letter to the recipients. “The project demonstrates the democratic organizing skills of students and the civic power of community college students. The competition was so strong that The Democracy Commitment gave out two awards this year. The second award went to a group of students from Allegany College of Maryland.”

The Democracy Commitment is a nonpartisan national program dedicated to the advancement of civic learning and engagement at community colleges.

KCC’s paralegal and legal assistant studies program is approved by the American Bar Association. Two degrees are offered through KCC’s program, a two-year associate degree program for those who plan to immediately enter the workforce or to transfer into a four-year bachelor’s degree program and an advanced certificate for those already holding a bachelor’s degree.

The college has established partnership agreements for paralegal graduates with Calumet College of St. Joseph in Indiana, Governors State University in University Park, Illinois State University in Normal, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and St. Mary-of-the-Woods in Indiana.

The 36 credit-hour advanced certificate program is designed for those who hold a bachelor’s degree to complete training in appropriate areas such as writing and relevant computer applications to enhance their college coursework.

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