Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Despite Itt's Closure, Graduates Get to Walk for Degrees

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Despite Itt's Closure, Graduates Get to Walk for Degrees

Article excerpt

Jessica Keller, who cleaned offices at night so she could take college classes by day, was busy this summer lining up family and friends to witness a proud moment in her life.

Then something unthinkable happened: Weeks before her graduation ceremony, the school where she had just completed her degree, ITT Technical Institute, abruptly shut its doors for good in September.

"I was devastated," she said.

With that closure went any hope the 33-year-old Bellevue resident had of walking in a commencement ceremony to celebrate her associate degree ? or so it seemed.

As it turns out, other private career schools and technical colleges across Pennsylvania and in New Jersey had decided to give students like her who had successfully completed coursework at ITT the chance to be recognized publicly for their achievement.

This month and next, roughly a dozen of those schools are opening up their own commencements to students from various ITT campuses, and two of those schools will hold ceremonies specifically for students from ITT.

On Wednesday, Ms. Keller will join about 10 other ITT students in one such event ? a private 6 p.m. ceremony on Pittsburgh Technical College's Oakdale campus.

Those students are among 14 who had just completed studies on ITT's two Pittsburgh-area locations and were approached by PTC with the offer. Ms. Keller, who was raised in East Liverpool, Ohio, graduated high school in 2001. She said she worked in retail and as a cleaner, enrolling in ITT in September 2014. Her studies were in the applied sciences of computer and electronics engineering technologies.

What drew her back to the classroom, she said, was a nagging sense that she was not using her talents fully. That feeling helped her cope with the the coursework and the grind of trips between ITT's Robinson campus and her overnight work.

"I got tired of working nights," she said. "I felt I had so much more potential."

Ms. Keller said she bonded with her instructors and loved classes.

So she was shocked by the announcement on Sept. 6 from ITT Educational Services Inc. that it was closing more than 130 locations in 39 states amid a federal inquiry. …

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