Education alums support 2024 graduates 

Students listen during a panel discussion.
UIC College of Education graduates receive support and advice during one of the career panel discussions. (Photo: Tim Lemberger/University of Illinois Chicago)

Kevin Rodriquez says the career support and resources he’s received from the UIC College of Education have opened doors for him. 

“One of the big takeaways was the advice given by alumni that I should do something I am very passionate about. I intend to become a teacher and mentor, enriching the lives of children, teens and adults,” said Rodriquez, a 2024 graduate of the College of Education.  

As this year’s graduates from the College of Education begin their careers, the college is providing them with the opportunity to learn from and connect with alums. 

Kim Meares received a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and a master’s degree in youth development at UIC. Now she’s committed to supporting other UIC graduates. She is the program director at Opportunity Knocks, a nonprofit in River Forest that supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  

“I have a deep appreciation for UIC. Giving back to UIC is important, and one way I do this is by sharing my experiences with future professionals,” Meares said. “I believe hearing from alumni can be invaluable for current students.” 

This year, Meares supported graduates by participating in a career panel discussion.  

“Inspiring others and discussing values that are important to me bring me great joy,” Meares said. “Speaking on a panel with my peers and engaging with students afterward was incredibly rewarding. My passion lies in working with people and being a positive influence in a challenging world. Ultimately, my goal is to contribute to making the world a better place, a goal I believe UIC shares.” 

Three people sit on a panel
College of Education alums Melvin Woolfolk, Elia Olivares and Kim Meares participate in the career panel discussion. (Photo: Tim Lemberger/University of Illinois Chicago)

Melvin Woolfolk, a College of Education alum, is an academic advisor in the UIC Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition. He received a bachelor’s degree in human development and learning and a master’s degree in instructional leadership. 

Woolfolk participated in the career panel discussion and offered to assist students with their resumes, cover letters and LinkedIn profiles. He also stays connected with the college through the Human Development and Learning Club, which he founded as a student to support other College of Education students working toward a degree in human development and learning. Woolfolk now collaborates with the club’s current president and vice president. 

Joe Rey, a 2024 graduate, attended the career panel discussion with alums who have served as school principals and district superintendents. 

“The career panel helped me prepare for the interviewing and job application process by reinforcing ideas that I learned through Call Me MiSTER,” Rey said. Call Me MiSTER, a national initiative, aims to increase the diversity of available licensed teachers.

“I was able to have a heads-up on what administrators were looking for in potential candidates, which gave me an extra boost of confidence when interviewing for a teaching position,” Rey added. “To make a long story short, resume, cover letters, student artifacts, wardrobe and passion-driven communication were the focal points of the discussion and proved to be worthwhile when I began my job search.” 

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