Gina De Rosier began her life after high school as a young mom without a diploma. In 1994, the teen had no idea where her future would lead.
Fast forward to present day. De Rosier now works as an instructional coordinator in Joliet Junior College’s Department of Adult Education and Literacy (DAEL). She has a master’s degree, and an amazing ability to connect with her students – because she knows what they are going through, firsthand.
“I have my GED certificate as well,” she said. “I think that’s why I’m so passionate about what I do. I’ve been where my students are – each and every one of them.”
The DAEL, located in JJC’s City Center Campus in downtown Joliet, is a place where adults can come to study for and acquire their GED certificate, take classes they didn’t finish in high school, learn English as a second language, prepare for the COMPASS test, receive academic and career advising, and utilize many other services.
De Rosier can relate to her students not only because she experienced a similar life path as many of them, but also because she understands the emotions that come with that journey.
Twenty years ago, De Rosier dropped out of high school after giving birth. Instead of finishing school, she stayed home to take care of her baby boy.
“I didn’t think I was cut out for school,” she said. “I can relate to my students so much in that way. It was my mother-in-law who said to me, ‘Try one class. I bet you’ll love college’.”
Five kids and 13 years later, De Rosier graduated from National Louis University with her master’s degree. After landing her first job at Prairie State College as a part-time GED instructor, De Rosier came to JJC two-and-a-half years ago.
In addition to teaching, De Rosier is active in her professional field. She was recently promoted to Senior Director of Region One of the Illinois Adult and Continuing Educators Association (IACEA).
“I have my dream job,” De Rosier said. “I’m really following my passion. Realistically, you have to have your associate degree to make a sustainable wage. To help students get to that path is what drives me every day.”
De Rosier knows going back to school as an adult takes courage, a lot of hard work, and poses its own set of challenges. De Rosier’s job not only is to teach adult students, but to encourage, motivate, and help them in any way that she can. This is her favorite – and the most rewarding – part of her job.
“You can do anything you put your mind to. I think persevering through it, you can do it,” she said. “Even if it’s been 15 or 20 years, you can go to college. You can change the path you’re on. It’s never too late.”
De Rosier thinks JJC is a perfect place for adults to start because it’s an affordable option with a variety of resources.
The DAEL provides its own opportunities for adults who are just starting, but De Rosier often recommends other JJC resources, such as counseling, the Academic Skills office, and the StAR office, which helps students with disabilities.
Students aren’t the only ones learning at JJC, either – De Rosier said she has learned much in her role as DAEL instructional coordinator.
“I’ve learned that you have to strive to do the best for the students and every student is so different. JJC is such a melting pot of cultures and ages,” she said. “JJC has taught me to look at the student as an individual, and that every student needs something different.”
For more information about the Department of Adult Education and Literacy (DAEL), visit http://www.jjc.edu/site-info/pages/search.aspx?q=dael&cx=014925834977568330850:wnxddeznxga&cof=FORID:11.