Five Facts About Ivan Bew
Ivan Bew is JJC's 2016 Commencement student speaker. Learn five interesting facts about the 26-year-old psychology major here:
After coming to JJC, he found that there was a world of possibilities for him.
Ivan Bew remembers days in high school where all he would do was go to class and get home as soon as he could, feeling too shy to get involved with any activities at school.
Today, the JJC psychology major's life is nothing like that. In fact, the list of activities and pursuits Bew is involved in are almost too numerous to mention. "JJC is where I branched out and learned that there were so many options for me," Bew said. "My world suddenly opened up, and I met so many friends."
Since coming to JJC, Bew has worked in the Student ID Office; joined student clubs like Intervarsity, Psychology, American Sign Language, and Comedy; volunteered for extracurricular events like Fosterpalooza; and is part of the Mayor of Joliet's committee for citizens with disabilities.
He lives with a difficult physical disability, but does not let it define him.
Bew does not allow the condition he lives with, spastic cerebral palsy, to hold him back. While daily transportation and other activities can be challenging for him, he learned at JJC that it would not prevent him from getting involved in numerous activities.
"Just getting from place to place is a challenge because I cannot walk as fast as others," Bew said. "Because of my muscle contractions, I am not able to drive a car like the average person. So I depend on public transportation, mostly the PACE bus system."
He has applied for an internship in Washington, D.C. this summer.
Pending acceptance in June, Bew will be going to the nation's capital for a year-and-a-half fellowship with the National Council for Independent Living. In this role, he would be helping teach people with physical disabilities to live successful, independent lives.
His message to his fellow graduates is one of hope and the value of perseverance.
Bew hopes to share with the graduation audience his own story, how not giving up in the face of adversity has made him the person he is today.
"In moments of doubt, I want my fellow graduates to remember their diploma, and recognize that it is more than a piece of paper; it is a symbol of victory," he said. "With hard work, we can all overcome the challenges that we meet."
His long-term career goal is to work with children.
With his psychology major and experience with different jobs and committees, Bew wants to have a career working with children.
He says his experience as a youth counselor at the Joliet Park District showed him that his disability was an opportunity to connect with the children in a unique way.
"My disability was not an impairment at my job but a benefit," he said. "At first the kids were curious about me, but in the long run they listened intently to my instructions and I kept their attention easily. Since the children had never encountered someone with my uniqueness, they were naturally more compassionate and helpful to me which created a better environment for everyone."