Keith Bryant became student trustee at Joliet Junior College by accident – but it was a good accident, according to the network systems security student.
Bryant, a Joliet resident, worked in construction before making the decision to attend JJC in 2011. Due to the slow-down of the construction industry, Bryant felt a college degree would freshen up his skills and give him the extra edge he needed to compete in the workforce.
Bryant was determined to make his college experience worthwhile, especially because he didn’t take advantage of student activities while in high school. Determined to focus on reaching his own personal success, Bryant sought help with the Academic Skills Center’s tutoring program. He also got involved with Project Achieve, a student support services program.
As Bryant continued his studies at JJC, he became well known around campus as his list of student activities grew. By 2012, he was a Project Achieve student worker, a member of the honors organization, Phi Theta Kappa, a student leader for JJC orientation, and president of the Students Happy About Reaching Potential (S.H.A.R.P.) Book Club. He was also attending JJC on a full scholarship.
One day, Amy Sims, coordinator of holistic wellness for the Office of Student Activities, encouraged Bryant to apply for the student trustee position.
“If someone would have asked me a year ago to apply, I would have probably laughed,” Bryant said. “It’s a funny thing. Things happened based on me wanting to be successful. I didn’t set out to do these things.”
As a student trustee, Bryant sits on JJC’s seven-member board of trustees who are elected by the public. He plays a role in deciding what is best for the college and JJC students.
Since he became an official member of the board in November 2012, Bryant has learned many new things, including how a college institution operates, how to properly run a meeting, how budgets work, and the process for discussing renovations and the building of new facilities.
One of Bryant’s most memorable experiences as student trustee was when he attended a national conference for community colleges in Washington D.C. this past February.
“Just to be there, lobbying for community colleges and asking to preserve our funding for different grants and things that are available to us at the community college level – it was definitely an experience of a lifetime,” he said. “Something I’ll never forget and talk to my grandchildren about. I’m honored and humbled to represent the large student body that we have at JJC.”
In addition to the conference, Bryant also got to attend President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address as a guest of Congressman Bill Foster.
Getting involved in JJC’s student activities has really been a life changing experience for Bryant. JJC has not only helped his growing ambitions, but being a part of the board of trustees has provided him with a unique and professional experience.
Before coming to JJC, Bryant’s only goal was to obtain his associate degree. Now, he’s planning on furthering his education at Governor’s State University after graduating from JJC in May 2014.
Bryant said he thinks it is essential for future JJC students to get involved.
“It opens up doors,” he said, adding that JJC’s student activities have helped him earn his success as a student. “I know that a lot of the things I’ve been able to be a part of will definitely assist me in creating a better future for myself and my family.”