When Miya Ward graduated from Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep Academy in 2011, she enrolled in classes at Southern Illinois University. However, after a few semesters and some trouble with financial aid, she was forced to return to her home in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood without a degree.
She worked in various jobs: as a beauty advisor in a large chain store, a sales manager at a furniture store, and finally as an administrative assistant in an accounting firm on the far south side of the city. She felt ready to return to school in the fall of 2018, and chose Kennedy-King College because it was a bit of a family tradition: both her mom and sister graduated from KKC with their associate degrees in business and criminal justice respectively.
Once she got to campus, she didn’t really think she wanted to get too involved – after all, she was working and had a young daughter at home.
“I wanted to do my work and go home. I didn’t think Kennedy-King was the kind of college that had a lot of student activities anyway,” she explained.
That all changed when she met now friend, classmate and Student Government President Majaya Glenn, who encouraged her to use her flair for finance as the Student Government Association’s treasurer.
Now studying full-time, Miya has also discovered a passion for working with children thanks to her daughter. And what she sees in the news has inspired her to become a social worker, specifically helping kids in foster care find safe and loving homes. She has her sights set on transferring to DePaul University or Governors State University.
Her advice to anyone who is hesitant to go to community college is this: “Go for it. Don’t let anything discourage you. If I had come to Kennedy-King first I would be done with school already! You have to do what’s best for you.”
She also encourages students – both new and old – to get involved, saying “don’t be afraid to talk to be people and get involved on campus – it makes your experience so much better.”
Miya will follow in the footsteps of both her mom and sister next spring as she graduates with her associate degree.