Post Classifieds

Human Services student gets top honor

By Jim Nance, Times Staff Reporter
On May 21, 2012

Kenneth Ginlack, Human Services Student, is the 2012 Spring Semester recipient of the President's Award. The Office of the President and Local 212 Faculty Union sponsor this annual program held each spring. The Scholastic Recognition Committee, in conjunction with the Office of the Registrar, coordinates and conducts the district competition to select the MATC President's Award recipient.

To qualify for the President's Award students need a completion of at least 52 associate degree or 12 technical diploma (1 year, 2 year or short term) credits with a 2.75 or higher cumulative grade-point average and have applied for graduation with the college's Registration office. Students needed to be active participants in campus extracurricular activities or in the community. The benefit to winning this honor gives you district recognition, honor certificate and invitation to the Honors recognition banquet which will be held on May 6.

Mr. Ginlack, in addition to a fascinating essay written, also had submitted a strong recommendation letter on his behalf. Nothing could convey better who this winner truly was than when we sit down and talk to him. Mr. Ginlack was no stranger to poverty, gangs, and drugs; however, he's turning out to be an inspiration to the youth and others around him daily. As he candidly shared in this interview, this is what he had to say on his recent accomplishment.

Times: How were you able to maintain your school responsibilities in addition to working?
Ginlack: It was trying. I had to persevere through it all, working full-time past and present semesters and doing field placement. Overall, I made the time to give back, because I don't go out and I like what I do. People who know me would say I have a boring life since I don't go out to the clubs or bars. Finding time for me and ways to give back to others is what I find beneficial.

Times: Who were some of your roles models?
Ginlack: Mr. Joseph Moore III, Human Services Instructor was a personal role model within MATC. Also, Mr. Dennis Howard, Counselor. Mr. Howard was a good mentor for me because I really looked up to him and his passing was hard for me. I was honored to be the first recipient of the Dennis Howard Award presented to me 6 months prior.
Times: What does winning the 'President's Award' means to you?
Ginlack: It means a great deal to me. I was a student of MATC in 1992 and back then I realized I was not ready for the college experience in those days. I ended up dropping out of school due to failing 3-4 classes.  Coming back to MATC, I've worked very hard that first semester to get my cumulative GPA to a 3.9. I really worked hard maintaining my grades.

When I received the postcard or letter stating that I've qualified for the President's Award I was ecstatic. It validated that if you work hard and stay focused, sometimes your past don't have to determine your future.
Times: Summarize your experience for us about your volunteer work with 'Revive' and give us an insight as to what it is that you do there?

Ginlack: Revive Youth and Family Services is through the foster care system and has been a challenge. The young men there have been through a lot of life challenges in which the way they were brought up in their household.  Growing up in those homes they developed behavioral issues. The reward for me comes when they can step to me and just talk through their problems, share with me and feel confident that I am there for them. Just being patient and listening is all you need to do. It's great to see change in a young man who has started down that dark path and seeing slow changes for the positive.  Revive goes above and beyond what's required by the state; they want to make a difference by any necessary means for these young men. That's what makes volunteering with Revive beneficial for me.
Times: Out of all the programs to choose for your associates degree, why Human Services?

Ginlack: Human Services, I get to deal with people. I've struggled with addiction and someone was there to help me out and guide me in the right direction. I felt the need to give back. To further my quest, continuing my education was necessary for me to progress and to move forward in helping others. So I pursued a Human Services associate's degree here and will continue on to another college for my bachelor's degree.
Times: In your essay, you mentioned a teacher in your youth who was there to catch you on your downward spiral. Have you ever made it a point in your life to go back and let her know the affect she had on your present life?

Ginlack: (smiling and caught off guard) No, I actually did not! I have been to that school, because it was an alternative school, and I have done some work with the kids that were there. I spent time talking to the kids on drug abuse and saying NO to drugs. After I cleaned up my life, I remembered this teacher in my head saying "Ken, you have a problem." Will have to check back with some of the staff to now find her and get that closure.
Times: What do you feel is the biggest misconception after being an addict you think most people have of you?
Ginlack: Once people find that I am a recovering addict, they have a perception that maybe I am not who I say I am. In my line of work, they would think just because I was recovering I don't have the education to go behind it. I know the stigma of addiction and I am a recovering addict.  My work, attitude, and drive show that the stigma can be broken. We don't have to be burdened by our past and eventually our past catches up with us. After all, it was my past and it's not who I am today. That's a message I convey to the young men I mentor as well. As long as I wake up, God wakes me up, I have an opportunity to be something different.

Kenneth Ginlack met with Dr. Burke on Thursday, May 3 for a sit down lunch to talk and reflect on this honor. His journey was long and he altered his course, but eventually Ginlack knew in the end where he wanted to be. Mr. Kenneth Ginlack was presented with his award on May 6 with other deserving winners for the Spring 2012 graduating class.

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