Nekeda Kirkwood says the same thing to all the students she advises: “Whether you are just out of high school or an adult learner, you will be ok. You may have challenges or setbacks, but you will be able to recover. You can do this!”

And with over 18 years working in higher education, she knows what she is talking about.

Nekeda, who hails from the South Side of Chicago, started working in higher education administration while she was still in college – as a work study student in the Academic Advising Office while she attended Southern Illinois University. Her first job out of college was as an administrative assistant in the Alumni Relations Office Chicago Kent College of Law, and after that she worked at for-profit universities as she earned her MBA.

After becoming, in her own words, disenchanted with for-profit education, she decided to make a move.

“I was attracted to City Colleges because I wanted to advise students. And because there are all these other resources like the Wellness Center, Disability Access Center, Transfer and Career Centers, I can focus on academic advising. We are all experts in our own fields, and we all work together to support our students,” she said.

Nekeda enjoys the community at Olive-Harvey, and says she learns something new every day – which keeps her on her toes. She works with all kinds of students, from different backgrounds, with different education levels, and who have different goals. She says that at Olive-Harvey, students get individualized attention, and while she wants to teach them to become self-sufficient, she is always here to help.

“I like that I can help students understand their degree requirements, and provide timely and accurate information so they can make informed decisions,” Nekeda explains.

To learn more about City Colleges’ academic advising services, visit

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