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Alumni Spotlight Archive


Kennedi Strickland-Dixon
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Kennedi Strickland-Dixon

Job:
Director of Special Education for a local school district.

Vitals:
Married with two children. Attended Triton College from 1990-1992.

Accolades:
Developing the first district program with Chicago State from the ground up. The program is for individuals seeking a master’s degree in special education or for certified teachers looking to advance their career. This is the first time the district has hosted such a program that can benefit the district immensely. With such a program, we are able to train our own staff with our vision for students. In addition, it’s a great opportunity for teachers who have their degree in special education to become further educated and to look at current best practices. Developing a Parent Advisory Committee for parents to receive information about resources for their children while providing a forum for parents to provide suggestions in enhancing the program.

What would you describe as your strong suit?
I am a people person. I naturally draw to others and they draw to me as well.

What have been some obstacles you've had to overcome in pursuit of your educational and career goals?
Financing my college education. I grew up in a college educated family, however, my mother was a single parent and I was the first in our family to go away to school. When I applied for financial aid the first time, they said that my mother made too much money!

What has served as a source of inspiration both in your career and in your life?
My elementary school teachers and mentors I met at Triton College. My elementary school teachers taught me the importance of an education and gave me the confidence I needed to work hard and helped me embrace a love of learning.

How has Triton College impacted your life?
I initially didn’t want to attend Triton because all of my friends were going away to school. In high school, I was involved in many extra-curricular activities and because I didn’t feel school was challenging, I didn’t apply myself 100%. My mom suggested that I attend Triton for at least a couple of years. It was the best decision I ever made! I met instructors who were extremely focused whom I still keep in touch with; I matured academically and learned the importance of a higher education.

In one of the first classes I took, I met an instructor who told me about a special needs work study program on campus that he thought I would excel at. I took the opportunity and realized that I really enjoyed working with special need students. The rest is history. Without the guidance, focus and special attention I received from mentors at the college, I would have never realized the love of this niche of work. I dedicate the pursuit of my doctorate degree to the late Dr. Roosevelt Thomas and Dr. Annie Thompson-Moore, mentors and former staff at Triton College.

From Triton, I went on to get my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. I am currently pursuing a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership and have only two more classes left and then I begin my dissertation. After Triton College, I became a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated at Western Illinois University. Membership in the organization provided me with the balance needed to realize the importance of giving service to others, maintaining high academic standards, and enjoying being a college student.

What advice would you give to someone who would like to pursue a career in your field?
You have to be a well defined person coming into the profession. What I mean by that is that once you walk through the door at work, any personal issues need to be detached. This position is all about the students and their needs. If you don’t have a desire to service children, this is not the career to choose. I work 14-15 hour days and if I didn’t love my work, it would make for a very long day!

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy spending time with my husband and two children. Since my work week is very regimented, I enjoy doing things unscheduled.

In addition, I am on the Board of Directors for the Mary E. Smith Foundation. This is an organization that works to advance brain tumor research. The organization does many wonderful things including providing scholarships to students who are interested in brain tumor research.

What are your plans for the future?
In the short term I am looking forward to finishing my dissertation and to continue to bring innovative programs to the district. In the very long term, I would one day enjoy teaching full-time at a university while continuing collaboration with school districts in special education.