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District 214 Education Foundation supports lifelong learning, path toward dreams

Becoming a United States citizen is life-changing, and the Rhonda Serafin Legacy Fund is helping make the dream a reality for adult students in District 214’s Adult Education & Family Literacy program. 

This year, the Serafin funds, awarded through the District 214 Education Foundation, went to nine students and relieved nearly $6,000 in financial burdens connected to citizenship application filing fees and the evaluation of degrees earned in other countries -- a pathway to promotion in the United States.

For more than three decades, Rhonda Serafin inspired thousands of District 214 Community Education students. When she retired in June 2018, the Foundation announced the new Legacy Fund, aimed at providing additional resources to assist enthusiastic adult learners in the community. 

This year’s recipients are Prav Shah, Dipikaben Shah, Adam Mularczyk, Anna Pusz-Kielar, Nikolay Shterev, Rania Elsadawy, Lorena Moreno, Norma Leal and Lelizaveta Dukhovna.

 The majority of the recipients were awarded $725 each to empower their path to citizenship. 

“I see students saving up for the fee sometimes for years,” Citizenship Program Coordinator Ewa Crowe said. “Last year’s recipients were very grateful and a couple of them, while fighting back tears, were saying how much they appreciate the financial help and the chance to apply for U.S. Citizenship.”

 Attaining citizenship changes people’s lives forever, she said, and means so much to immigrants.

 “It’s hard to describe the joy, pride and sense of accomplishment on their faces when they come back to class to tell us that they passed,” shared Crowe. “For many, this is the biggest accomplishment in their lives. I see students start believing in their own self-worth.”

Winners this year sent notes of gratefulness, noting the impact would have on their lives and future.

Other award winners will be able to have their foreign credits, earned at colleges in other countries, evaluated, which can lead to upward mobility in their jobs in America and progress in careers here. 

The Serafin Fund, like other funds through the Foundation, is supported by the generosity of donors who believe in the cause and the support of students, lifelong learning and public education.

The awards are given annually. For more details or to donate, visit

Tracy Gruen