CHICAGO HEIGHTS | As a student in a university in the Republic of Colombia, Jolie Avant was studying to be a foreign language teacher in her native land.
She had no idea her decision to visit the United States to better learn English as an international exchange student at Prairie State College would set her life on a completely different path.
She started her adventure in 2007 staying with an American family in Flossmoor as an au pair and enrolling at PSC. She quickly earned a scholarship for running, and her future took off from there.
Since graduating PSC with an associate in arts degree in education in 2010, Avant used a full scholarship to Governors State University to earn a bachelor of arts degree in interdisciplinary studies, and recently was hired as an English Language Learner teacher at Nathan Hale Elementary School in Lansing. She credits much of her decision to stay in the United States and teach to her time spent at PSC.
“The people at Prairie State College gave me so much support and believed in me,” she said. “Being involved in the school gave me the chance to take advantage of the opportunities that Prairie State offers."
Avant says she always wanted to help people. She chose teaching as her way to give back to the community.
“I love sharing with people, and teaching is my way to share what I know with others,” she said. “I want to leave my footprint on society, and teaching a new generation is a great way to make an impact.”
Sharing her knowledge with others is even extending out of the classroom. According to Avant, one of the many things she discovered about herself as a student at PSC was a passion and talent for distance running. She is using that talent to give back to the school to which she is so grateful. She recently was named head coach of the women’s cross country team at PSC, and practices with the team every weekday morning.
Avant says her outlook on life, too, has changed because of her experiences at PSC.
“The people at PSC believed I could succeed,” she said. “And, I bring that belief wherever I go.”