When Tina Siranossian was young, she had dreams of working in the medical field. But in high school, the Chicago native said she cared more about her friends than studying.
Things took a turn for the worse when she was a junior in high school. At age 17, her mother passed away.
“Before my mother passed away when she was 39, she asked me to finish with my education,” Siranossian said. “When she passed away, I was very devastated. I gave up school. I met my husband, we had a family, and my children became my priority.”
Eighteen years later, the 35-year-old Joliet resident is finally getting a second chance at her education – and fulfilling the dream she once had.
Siranossian, who has been diabetic for 26 years, said she became interested in attending Joliet Junior College for the Radiologic Technology program because of her diabetes. As a diabetic, she is used to getting ultrasounds.
“The ultrasound has always, always had my attention. I was interested in how they did it,” she said. “But I really wanted to start off doing X-rays. So that’s where I want to go, X-rays to ultrasounds. I’d like to have both backgrounds.”
Before she could take college courses, Siranossian had to study for the GED test. She took advantage of JJC’s GED resources in the Department of Adult Education and Literacy (DAEL) at the City Center Campus. Her experience working with the faculty and staff there played a big role in motivating her to do well.
“They’re great. They made me feel like I’m worth something, that I’m able to do more than I think I can,” she said. “I just feel like we’re adults talking one on one. They know how hard I am working. They’re here to help me. I appreciate everything they’ve ever done for me.”
Siranossian said the JJC employees who helped her the most were Michelle Lyman and Michele August, college and career transition specialists, as well as Kathi Ruge, GED instructor.
Lyman said she thinks Siranossian is the perfect role model for adults working toward getting their GED certificates. Each year, the DAEL services close to 3,000 adult education students, with two thirds of those students working toward earning their GED certificate.
“It just makes me smile from ear to ear when I think of everything she’s accomplished, and what she’s on the verge of accomplishing,” Lyman said. “I think one of the reasons she would be a role model to other adult or GED students is that she’s very honest, and when she speaks, she speaks from the heart. She’s very open and she’s willing to help others.”
Today, it is clear that Siranossian’s view on education has changed 100 percent since high school. She spends a lot of time encouraging her two children to do well and leading by example. She has always made a point to sit down with them to help with homework. Often, the three do their homework together.
“I always tell them, if you guys do well in school, you won’t run into what I’m having to do now. I think it especially inspires my 14-year-old daughter. She has always told me how proud she is of me, because I work so hard. I showed them that I am able to do it, so why can’t they?”
Education has become such a vital part of Siranossian’s life that even after graduating from JJC, she plans to return to the classroom many years down the road – but in a different way.
“One of the highest goals I’ve set for myself – I would like to eventually teach,” she said. “Right now I volunteer at my son’s school. I enjoy being with people, showing them the ropes. What inspired me to do that – I became close with this one woman. She was actually going to start teaching at JJC, in the radiology program. She told me that she’d been doing it for 17 years and she felt like she wanted to do more. And that really inspired me. I felt that I don’t want to ever stop in my education.”
As for now, Siranossian is focusing on finishing the rest of her prerequisite classes. She plans on registering for the Radiologic Technology program a few semesters down the road.
If it hadn’t been for JJC, Siranossian wouldn’t have been able to put her dreams into perspective.
“JJC has made me a well-rounded person,” she said. “I am able to do anything.”
Learn more about the DAEL program
Learn more about the Radiologic Technology program