JJC Alum Jay Bergman Wins ICCTA Award

Jay Bergman, Joliet Junior College 1968 alum, won the Illinois Community College Trustees Association (ICCTA) Distinguished Alumnus Award during the organization’s annual awards banquet on Friday, June 3. Bergman, founder and CEO of the largest oil production company headquartered in Illinois, Petco Petroleum Corporation, is also a well-known philanthropist who has donated more than $780,000 to the Chicago region of the American Red Cross.

Joliet Junior College alum and CEO/founder of Petco Petroleum Corporation Jay Bergman is pictured with ICCTA secretary Kathy Spears.

Bergman has garnered an incredible amount of success since his days as a JJC student, but in his acceptance speech, he said that he wouldn’t be where he is now if it hadn’t been for JJC.

“JJC made me understand that there was life beyond the neighborhood and that an education was something to treasure,” he said. “JJC also gave me the knowledge to be successful in business and the desire to encourage others to realize their potential can only be achieved by furthering their education.”

Bergman graduated from Joliet Township High School in 1966. He knew he was going to have to put himself through college, but he was determined to get his degree, so he began at JJC as a business major. At one point, Bergman said he was working more than 50 hours a week as he carried his full load of classes. He persevered and eventually transferred to Illinois State University, where he continued to balance his studies with work, and graduated in 1970.

Even though Bergman went on to pursue a successful career in business, he stayed in Joliet and never forgot the importance of higher education and the impact it had on his life. He served on the JJC Alumni Board as president in the 1980s and was recently recognized as the longest serving member of the ISU Board of Trustees (2003 to 2017). For the past ten years, Bergman has also served at the state level as a member of the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) and is a part of the executive committee.

Left to right: JJC President Dr. Judy Mitchell, Nursing professor Dr. Maria Wolfe, Automotive professor Dan Warning, JJC alum and CEO/founder of Petro Petroleum Corporation Jay Bergman, JJC Board of Trustees member Maureen Broderick, and Alumni Relations Manager Kelly Larson.

“The benefits of attending a community college can be seen in the successful lives of our graduates,” said ICCTA executive director Mike Monaghan. “As a first-generation student, Jay Bergman could have easily chosen a simpler path, but his perseverance has made him a community college success story.”

In addition to his self-made company and position on the IBHE, Bergman is the board chairman and majority shareholder of the First Secure Bank Group, a Chicago area banking company. He serves on several other boards, including the American Red Cross of Chicago and Northern Illinois region; the Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo; and the Community Foundation of Will County.

He received an honorary doctorate from Lewis University in 2014 for his service in Illinois higher education, and has delivered a commencement speech at the University of St. Francis.

The ICCTA Distinguished Alumnus Award was established in 1985 to recognize the success stories of community college graduates. Those who receive the award are successful in their chosen field, have provided service to the community, have an interest in education, and more.

In addition to Bergman, JJC faculty members Dr. Maria Wolfe (nursing) was nominated for the ICCTA Outstanding Part-Time Faculty Member Award and Dan Warning (automotive service technology and 2006 JJC alum) was nominated for the ICCTA Outstanding Full-Time Faculty Member Award.

To learn more about JJC, visit www.jjc.edu.

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