The 2024 Odyssey Project/Proyecto Odisea Graduation

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by Illinois Humanities

Read Time 2 minutes
June 6, 2024

On Saturday, May 11, Illinois Humanities was thrilled to honor the achievements of the 23rd class of Odyssey Project/Proyecto Odisea students at the National Museum of Mexican Art.

The Odyssey Project/Proyecto Odisea Graduation is among Illinois Humanities’ favorite events of the year. Almost 40 graduates in the 2024 Odyssey Project/Proyecto Odisea class were celebrated by over a hundred family members, friends, Odyssey instructors, and Illinois Humanities staff.

Illinois Humanities Executive Director Gabrielle Lyon kicked off the ceremony sharing her story of how she persevered to further her education. Still, the stars of the ceremony were the class-elected speakers: Giovanna Pacindo (first-year, North Side), Noemí Delia Garcia (first-year, Proyecto Odisea), and Lori K. Bibbs (second-year).

Making it to the end of the Odyssey program showed us what we are capable of accomplishing. We are now heading to our next chapter more confidently because of what we have learned and for that we will always be grateful,” Giovanna shared.

Lori touched our hearts as she shared the story of how she came to the Odyssey Project experience and how it turned out to be exactly what she was looking for. Fellow graduates related to Giovanna’s recounting of first-day jitters to finding your voice, building community, and finally completing the course.

We were inspired by Noemí’s story of perseverance in completing the course and achieving her goals: 

Today I am overwhelmed by the emotion of having found this program, and making the best decision to enroll, which is no secret to anyone that the best decision is education,” Noemí said.

Following the speeches, as the audience cheered on, each graduate walked across the stage to receive their certificates and sashes. 

  • 2024 Odyssey Graduation Lori Bibbs walking across stage Ilhumanitiesodyssey05112024 0328 cr GlitterGuts

    Lori Bibbs walks across the stage to receive her honors. (All photos by GlitterGuts Photography.)

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    Odisea graduate Carlos Calleros receives his certificate from Teaching Assistant Lucia Wrooman.

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    Second Year Graduate Rosemary Steward receives her certificate from instructor Andrés Lemus-Spont.

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    Audience members celebrate the graduates.

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    Odisea instructor Eduardo Frajman stands while the audience honors Odyssey Project/Proyecto Odisea staff and instructors.

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    Dance set after the ceremony.

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    Reception following the ceremony.

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    Enjoyed delicious food by Chef Jessica Pamonicutt.

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    North Side Odyssey graduate Susan Danzig poses for a photo with her daughter and son-in-law during the reception.

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    North Side Odyssey graduate Sharon Denise Dukes, who gave the invocation during the ceremony, enjoys treats with friend.

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    Graduates of the Odisea course mingle with Director of Teaching and Learning Rebecca Amato and Teaching Assistant Itzel Muñoz during the reception.

  • 2024 Odyssey Graduation memorium chair for Carla Padgett ilhumanitiesodyssey05112024 1648 cr Glitter Guts

    Lori created a memorial chair for friend and fellow South Side Graduate Carla Denise Padgett.

The ceremony ended with a photo collage from the 2023-2024 classes and field trips over a playlist by DJ L O Kari, a reception catered by Chef Jessica Pamonicutt (Menominee) and Ketapanen Kitchen, dancing, and good vibes.

As I reflect back on these past two years, I met some of the kindest, smartest, most amazing people. And I want to say “thank you”,” Lori said.

Each year this ceremony reminds us that the Odyssey Project/Proyecto Odisea is so much more than a great opportunity, it’s an experience that generates a community of life-long learners, supporters, friends, and family. We hope you will join our community by participating in the class of 2025.


View the photo album

The Odyssey Project/Proyecto Odisea is a free college credit-bearing program for Chicago-area adults available in English and Spanish. Not only are courses free, but students also receive free books and materials, plus optional transportation and child or elder care support. Find out if you are eligible and submit your application to join the class of 2025 by June 15, 2024!

Learn more