Spotlight on Alumni
At Triton, we seek to celebrate the success of our students and graduates! The Alumni Relations Office stays connected for life through recognition of the achievements of our alumni after leaving our gates. Each month, the success stories of our alumni will be featured in our Spotlight on Alumni series.
Triton Alumnus Gives Back to Illinois Community Colleges after Getting His Start at Triton
After attending multiple high schools, Jamil Steele graduated feeling unfocused with no college or career goals and poor academic skills. Spending the summer after his graduation working many low-paying, general labor jobs, he decided those jobs were not suited for him and that he wanted more out of life. Steele then enrolled at Triton College in 1989 and never looked back.
After Triton, Steele earned a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies and a master’s degree in Education from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. He entered the education field initially as an instructor and curriculum developer for the St. Louis community college system. He worked there as part of a team that developed customized curriculum and programs to aid under-served adults in improving their basic academic skills to levels of college and career readiness and to equip them with the tools to earn a living wage to better their life chances.
Currently, Steele serves as Senior Director of Adult Education and Literacy for the Illinois Community College Board. Steele states, “I have experienced first-hand the difference community colleges can make in individual lives.”
What have been some obstacles you’ve had to overcome in pursuit of your educational and career goals?
I had to overcome a poor high school academic record, bad study habits, and low reading, writing, and mathematics skills. My family had financial challenges, so I had to work to contribute to the family income. Coupled with an unstable home environment, it was hard for me to focus on academic goals.
When I decided to pursue the education goal to go to college to obtain a career, I had to face the fact that I did not have the academic skills to be successful in college courses nor the financial means to pay for them.
What have been some sources of inspiration both in your career and in your life?
My students have been the source of inspiration for my career and life calling. I see individual lives change when they took advantage of educational opportunities. This is why I chose to work with adult education and community college systems. It allows me to collaborate with others to create programs that offer disadvantaged populations educational opportunities.
How has Triton College impacted your life?
Triton afforded me the opportunity to strengthen my academic skills to levels of college and career readiness and to explore various career pathways at an affordable cost.
What advice would you give someone who would like to pursue a career in your field?
Education is the currency of the 21st century. Encourage educational engagement and attainment among your family and friends. Study the latest trends so that you can refer individuals to career pathways that best meet their specific needs.
What are your words of wisdom for current Triton students?
Pursue your passions with tenacity and vigor, and become a lifelong learner. The more you learn about your passion, the more doors of opportunity will become available.