Joliet Junior College student Brian Herrera is one step closer to his dreams after the JJC community voted for him as the new student member for the JJC Board of Trustees last April.
Herrera is a political science major who hopes to become a lawyer someday.
Herrera decided on law because he wants to fight for what he’s passionate about – underrepresented minorities and immigration law.
Today, Herrera participates in various student clubs and activities. As student trustee, one of his goals is to promote diversity and encourage students to work toward their dreams by using what resources JJC has to offer – anything from counseling to peer mentoring or using the Tutoring Center or Career Services Office.
Herrera is extremely passionate about his future career and student life at JJC, but he wasn’t always this involved. He credits the college with helping him grow into the person he is today.
As an undocumented student and a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient bestowed by the U.S. government, Herrera came to the United States with his family as an infant. He spent a lot of his early life in Chicago, and wasn’t active in school.
In 2009, Herrera and his family moved to Crest Hill where he attended Lockport Central High School. Back then, he wasn’t sure which direction his life was heading.
Everything changed once he stepped onto JJC’s Main Campus in 2012. Unsure of what to expect from college, Herrera decided to participate in JJC’s Peer Mentor Program, where another student Ana Marchan counseled him. He also received support and motivation from an adviser in the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.
“Those people pushed me to become motivated,” Herrera said. “Their support helped me to realize how important being involved is. I feel like this school truly helped me. I am proud to be here. JJC really changed my life, and made me who I am today.”
After those first steps, Herrera soon found himself getting more involved on campus, becoming more confident, and making his studies a priority. This is when he realized his dream of becoming a lawyer. Herrera’s determination and ability to work hard led him to becoming JJC’s newest student trustee.
Part of the reason why he wanted to become student trustee is to help other students who were just like him, back when he was a first-year student at the college.
“As student trustee, I definitely want to be known to the student body. I want to assist students, and inform them about what’s going on. I want to make a difference and help students succeed here, especially the students who have a lack of support,” Herrera said. “My main focus is to inspire students to dream and make their dreams a reality, because everything seems impossible until somebody does it.”
To Herrera, having an informed student body at JJC is a necessity – which is why he is the first student trustee to give a monthly Board of Trustees report to the Collegiate Club Council. From there, JJC club leaders inform their members about what’s going on at the college. Herrera also plans to host “free food” events where students can talk to him about the issues they are passionate about.
Pam Dilday, JJC director of student activities and campus life, thinks Herrera is a great student representative.
“Brian is well connected with clubs at JJC and makes sure students are aware of things happening around the college,” Dilday said. “I’m confident that he will continue being a great student trustee.”
Other goals Herrera has for his time as student trustee include increasing student enrollment and helping students achieve their educational goals – whether it be graduating, transferring, or something entirely different.
“JJC offers programs that help students with communication, involvement, becoming a better leader – all things they may need to know in the career world,” Herrera said, adding that if he hadn’t ever sought the help when he was a new student on campus, his life could have turned out totally different.
In addition to being JJC’s student trustee, other activities Herrera is involved in on campus include: Latinos Unidos, the JJC Collegiate Council, JJC Student Government, peer mentors, Brother2Brother, the Black Student Union, the International Student Club, G.L.O.W., and the psychology club.
Herrera plans to graduate from JJC in May 2015, and then transfer to Governors State University where he can pursue his ambitions in law.
For more information about the Board of Trustees, visit http://www.jjc.edu/about/administration/board-of-trustees/Pages/default.aspx.