By Jason Staker

Bethany Shadow stands with Dr. Gene Leutzinger, dean of Hawkeye’s School of Interprofessional Health and Safety Services, after completing the CNA I-BEST program at the Metro Center. Bethany is one of thousands of students served annually in Hawkeye’s adult education programs.

Bethany Shadow didn’t graduate from high school.  Now and then, she would start working toward her High School Completion Diploma (HSED), but never followed through. Then Bethany became a mother, and she had a shift in perspective. It wasn’t just about finishing her diploma, it was about providing a good example for her daughter.

“Now I have the motivation to bring myself here every day and better myself,” she said.

She began working on her HSED at Hawkeye’s Metro Center, where she learned about a new Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) program starting in fall 2016. Using the Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) model, students would work on basic skills like reading and math while gaining career skills with hands-on training.

With encouragement from her teachers, Bethany signed up. She hasn’t looked back.

Student Ambassadors from the Metro Center and Martin Luther King Jr. Center join Dr. Linda Allen, president of Hawkeye Community College, for a ceremonial groundbreaking at the site of the new Adult Learning Center.

“I’m proving to myself I can accomplish the things I’m trying to do,” she said. “I never felt like I was smart enough… I’m glad I’m proving myself wrong.”

Stories like Bethany’s play out every day at Hawkeye’s Metro Center and Martin Luther King Jr. Center. They’re the reason the college is building a new 45,000-square-foot Adult Learning Center in downtown Waterloo.

“We’re building this center to serve the continued needs and growth of our programs,” said Dr. Linda Allen, president of Hawkeye Community College. “This building will let us do all the things we dreamed about and more.”

Students and instructors from the CNA I-BEST program, which successfully concluded its first session in December 2016. I-BEST (Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training) has been very successful for students at Hawkeye’s Metro Center, and the new Adult Learning Center will allow the program to expand with a Child Development Associate pathway.

The new center is possible thanks to a 2015 bond referendum overwhelmingly approved by voters in Hawkeye’s 10-county service area. The college held a groundbreaking on October 25, 2016, for the three-story building, slated for completion in fall 2018.

“There are a lot of possibilities and opportunities in that space,” said Sandy Jensen, director of urban centers and adult literacy. “It’s not just more space, it’s more usable space.”

A child development center, health clinic, coffee shop, community meeting space, and student art gallery are just some of the things planned for the Adult Learning Center, all focused on creating an innovative and welcoming space for learning.

“We want to take those student experiences and services to a whole new level,” Dr. Allen said.

The Adult Learning Center will increase Hawkeye’s capacity to serve students like Bethany, who completed her CNA training and finished her HSED. She’s in line for a promotion at work because of her new skills, and is looking at more training down the road.

“There’s no need to quit now,” she said. “I feel a lot better about myself.” 

Adult Learning Center

The new center will combine and expand services from Hawkeye’s Metro Center and Martin Luther King Jr. Center. It will be home to Hawkeye’s High School Completion, English Language Learning, Family Literacy, Citizenship, Senior Companion, and I-BEST programs. Some of the highlights include:

Child Development Center

In addition to providing a safe childcare option for students, the center will provide hands-on learning for students in a new I-BEST Child Development Associate program.

Support Services

When students register for classes, staff members will work with them to identify any additional needs, like housing or transportation. Students can make connections with community support services through special video conference rooms.

Coffee Shop

A ground-floor coffee shop will be open to the public and provide hands-on experience for students in the Hospitality Management program on Main Campus.

Student Art Gallery and Community Meeting Space

Gallery space on the third floor will feature the work of Hawkeye student artists and offer a place for community organizations to hold meetings and events.

Student Health Clinic

A clinic providing health services to students.


In addition to computer labs, the new center will include classrooms designed for Technology Enabled Active Learning (TEAL), which combines lecture, simulation, and hands-on experimentation.


The center will be located on a MET bus route, with curb cutouts for easy passenger loading and unloading.