Go back nearly two decades, and you’ll be able to find NLU alum Judy Mitchell ’12 somewhere at Joliet Junior College (JJC). She originally set foot at the first public community college in the United States as a student. Now the president of JJC, she’s leading the very community that fostered and encouraged her growth.
In a previous life, Mitchell was a stay-at-home mom on hiatus from a 10-year corporate career. Planning to transition back into full-time work, she enrolled at JJC in order to hone her competitive edge before jumping back into the corporate world.
However, instead of moving back to the corporate world like she had planned. she began a whole new career at JJC. She started as an administrative assistant in the mid-1990s and worked her way through a number of promotions. In 2005, she was named director of business and auxiliary services.
Those who were around Mitchell during her steady advancement at JJC encouraged her to set higher and higher goals. So when an NLU faculty member was invited to JJC to discuss community college leadership, the encounter eventually led Mitchell to pursue an Ed.D. in Community College Leadership at NLU.
The doctoral experience was “intense” but a “perfect fit,” explained Mitchell. “I graduated from NLU in June of 2012 and received a vice-president role in August.”
After nearly four years of service as vice president, Mitchell was offered the opportunity to serve as interim president for the junior college. She was appointed as JJC’s ninth president less than a year later.
Mitchell is deeply grateful for the opportunity to give back to a community that has given so much to her.
“Not only do I work at an institution that has believed in me, but having the opportunity to help and support students of every age is truly a gift like no other,” said Mitchell. “I am proud of our students and our community, and that is what keeps me invested.