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Inspiring Learners, Leaders and Visionaries in the Education-to-Career-Pathway

The EvoLLLution | Inspiring Learners, Leaders and Visionaries in the Education-to-Career-Pathway
In November, CAEL recognized four award winners in who exemplify how critical adult education is to creating a gateway to career mobility.

For most people, the greatest value of a conference is the interactions. As attendees engage with colleagues new and old, they can learn from the one another’s successes and setbacks in serving adult working learners. Fellow attendees may be like-minded, but diverse perspectives inspire novel solutions. That’s why the CAEL annual conference convenes stakeholders from niches throughout the adult-learning ecosystem. Our annual conference, held in November, was no different. With so many opportunities to learn from peers, keynote speakers and other experts in our field, it’s difficult for me to pick a single favorite moment. So I’ll pick four: We presented four annual awards celebrating three inspiring individuals and one impactful institution. There are many ways to raise awareness about the importance of our shared values, but I can’t think of one better than sharing stories about the success they enable.

Each of these awards exemplifies the purpose behind the important work we all do for working adult learners to access education as the gateway to career mobility. Below is a summary of each winner and their outstanding contributions.

Learner of the Year: Caprice Morales

CAEL’s Learner of the Year is someone who has overcome multiple barriers in pursuit of postsecondary learning. Although the journey of lifelong learning is never over, this award reminds us that with the right support and drive, all adults can succeed in postsecondary education.

Caprice Morales overcame a difficult upbringing, including domestic abuse that led to addiction and incarceration. She not only recovered in prison, she pursued an education and became an advocate for women who were victims of abuse during their incarceration. She went on to become a writer for Dwight’s Newspaper, continuing to confront the issues that hinder many incarcerated women. Today she is a member of the honor society Alpha Beta Sigma. She wants to inspire others to the persistence and confidence that will allow them to overcome whatever adversity life throws in their way. You can read more about her story here.

Pamela Tate Rise Award: Dr. Kenyatta Lovett

CAEL’s Pamela Tate Rise Award recognizes excellence in the area of forging connections between higher education and the workplace. With automation, artificial intelligence and other technologies disrupting so many industries, accessible links between learning and viable careers are more important than ever before.

Dr. Kenyatta Lovett is the Assistant Commissioner of Workforce Services with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. He is responsible for the services that link demand and supply within the state’s workforce system. This includes leading the expansion of apprenticeships and the operations of more than 50 job centers throughout the state. Dr. Lovett previously served as Executive Director of Complete Tennessee, an organization dedicated to increasing college completion and attainment in the state. You can find more information about Dr. Lovett and the work of the Tennessee Department of Labor here.

Morris T. Keeton Award: Dr. Betty Vandenbosch

The Morris T. Keeton Award was established in 1989 to honor Morris T. Keeton, the founding president of CAEL, upon his retirement from the presidency of the organization. Throughout his life, Keeton was an independent voice for innovation and improvement in education. He was committed to making experiential learning an integral part of education, to increasing access for adult learners and minorities to postsecondary education, and to improving the theory and practice of assessment, teaching and learning. His namesake award honors a person whose work, commitment and ideals reflect and extend the values he exemplified.

As chancellor of Purdue University Global, Dr. Betty Vandenbosch is driving new ways to serve the adult students she has championed throughout her career. Her focus on adult learners has helped improve access to postsecondary education and the career paths it enables. Prior to becoming chancellor, Dr. Vandenbosch was president of Kaplan University, which was acquired by Purdue University in 2018. At Kaplan, she led the development of the institution’s program for competency-based education, ExcelTrack.™ Learn more about Dr. Vandenbosch here.

Adult Learner Impact Award: The CUNY School of Professional Studies

The Adult Learner Impact Award recognizes organizations that have provided outstanding programs and services for adult learners. The CUNY School of Professional Studies was unanimously selected by CAEL’s review team from many competitive submissions.

After partnering with CAEL to assess opportunities to optimize its support of adult learners, CUNY SPS implemented several enhancements, including:

  • Hiring an experiential learning manager to oversee credit for prior learning and internships.
  • Creating a new cross-program internship course available to students in all degree programs.
  • Launching a new career services online platform, Simplicity.
  • Engaging a new, 24/7 online tutoring service,, that offers resumé review in addition to tutoring in traditional subjects.
  • Increasing partnerships with employers to establish direct paths between coursework and careers.
  • Launching a new online learning simulation, Test Flight, to give prospective students the opportunity to confirm online study is right for them.
  • Launching a new performance-based admissions process, Jump Start, designed for returning adult learners. Since its launch in March 2019, the program has exceeded its initial enrollment target, increasing accessibility for degree-seeking adults who were previously ineligible for admission via traditional GPA-based criteria.

More information about CUNY SPS is available here.

We were humbled by the winners’ accomplishments, persistence and dedication to the cause of lifelong learning, no matter the obstacles. Although one winner was selected for each category, we are keenly aware that their stories represent our collective efforts. In turn, we are reminded that the work we do every day, advocating for the hero in the story that unites us all: the working adult learner. I look forward to celebrating the outstanding accomplishments of 2020 at this year’s annual conference in New Orleans, Nov. 4-6. We’ll be sharing more details soon. In the meantime, you can sign up for updates here. See you in New Orleans!

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