Willowbrook resident put his education first and success fell into place
Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail could keep Jesse Rosas from pursuing his education at Triton College. Even when Rosas’ car broke down, he would walk from Westchester, along Roosevelt Road to Mannheim Road and down North Avenue to make it to class on time at the River Grove college. "Because I had evening courses and public transportation wasn't as reliable as it is today, I walked to school for more than three months," he said. "I was committed to seeing it through." Rosas has experienced even more surprising turns of events in his life that have shaped his educational and career goals, including having his parents sign him up for military service without his knowledge. "I didn't understand their actions then, but today I feel it was the best move for me," he said.
Today, Rosas serves as executive director of the Proviso Township Mental Health Commission in Hillside. The commission addresses healthcare needs by monitoring area trends and programs and providing financial assistance to local organizations serving an estimated 4,000 residents in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and developmental disabilities. Rosas, a Willowbrook resident, pursued an A.A.S. with a concentration in Basic Addiction Counseling at Triton after watching a family member have difficulties with substance abuse. He graduated in 1996 and earned his bachelor's in 1999 from Aurora University, at the same time advancing in his career. In 2008, he received his master's degree from American University in Business Administration with a concentration in Healthcare Management.
What awards or accolades have you received since attending Triton?The one I am most proud of is the opportunity given to me by the Proviso Township Mental Health Commission Board to be the first Hispanic Executive Director of a mental health commission in Illinois. It made me proud but more importantly, it sent a message to others like me – just a guy from the neighborhood – that with hard work and perseverance, everyone can achieve success. I have been given a tremendous opportunity and responsibility and knowing that others believe in me and look to me for answers makes me proud, gives me confidence and motivates me to achieve greater heights.
What have been some sources of inspiration both in your career and in your life?Rather than identifying one specific person, what stands out the most to me are the many inspirational experiences I have had or events that I have witnessed, such as watching how people I have known run their businesses, how they treat others and overcome adversity. I have had many great leaders and teachers cross my path, and I was always watching how they built consensus and inspired others to follow their vision.
What would you describe as your strong suit?Others have told me that I have done an excellent job at “thinking outside of the box” and that I have been innovative in developing the services that are now available in Proviso Township.
How has Triton College impacted your life?The school offered me a great community learning environment that was small enough to feel like home but big enough to help me grow. Triton was an important stepping stone at a key time in my life. It set my educational foundation and enabled me to achieve academic success where previously I had not.
What advice would you give to someone who would like to pursue a career in your field?I would tell them that working in human services, social services, and healthcare brings a lot of satisfaction. Helping others is the best part about my line of work. There are opportunities in the field, but I would also caution them to be aware of the current environment in Illinois – stay up to date on recent news in the field.
What are your words of wisdom for current Triton students?There are a lot of things out there that can derail you. Stay focused, stick with it, and don't get distracted from your goals.
What are your plans for the future?I work hard each day and hope that as opportunities present themselves I will be able to take full advantage of them. For now, I am happy to continue to serve the residents of Proviso Township by supporting top quality behavioral health program.
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