While in the ACE program, Icylee L. Basketbill was one of the first student stories to be told here. At the time she was midway through the associate degree program in human services, and still a bit unsure about herself in the classroom.
A high school graduate by way of summer school, a beautician for 28 years, the parent of a special needs child, a volunteer leader of the special needs community, and in her mid 40s, Icylee anticipated classroom learning would only be a means to an end. “Fellow volunteers often said, ‘I thought you already had a degree,’ and I thought to myself, ‘Ok, it’s time to do something about this. I need that piece of paper.’”
But her college journey has turned out to be so much more. Icylee met the first members of her college family at an ACE partnership site, whose support and encouragement ensured she stuck with the degree program through some rough spots. She experienced instructors who had a depth of experience in their professional fields, respected her own, and taught course content she could immediately put to use in her personal life.
“School helps you understand life! I learned about biases, patterns of behavior, how family background influences our adult lives, as well as the systems (political, economic, social) in which our lives operate. School gives you the knowledge you need for your journey.”
Amidst the covid chaos of 2020, Icylee completed the Human Services Associate Degree program and enjoyed a seamless transfer process to a bachelor’s degree program at Chestnut Hill College where she is thriving. She made the Dean’s List in the first semester and maintained a near 4.0 GPA throughout the program. Her academic performance caught the attention of the Dean who invited and inducted her into the Human Services Honor Society, awarded her a scholarship to cover the costs of all remaining classes, and hired her as a consultant to write a curriculum for parents with special needs children. “They’re seeing me. They saw things in me that I didn’t see for myself.”
Having missed out on high school and ACE graduations (due to covid), Icylee joyfully anticipates in-person graduation ceremonies this coming May. “It will mean SO much to me to finally walk across that stage and claim my success.”
And she’s not stopping. Always looking to give back, Icylee aims to become a Marriage and Family Therapist. She wants to give to others what she has received across her education journey – the confidence to bring their gifts forward to the world.
Dedicated to the late Cheryl Lang, dedicated student advocate, I-LEAD colleague and friend.