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JALC Student Trustee Jeremiah Brown Changed His Life and Now Wants to Help Others

Published on June 29, 2022

Robert Frost’s famous poem, The Road Not Taken, describes the choice between two paths. The traveler in the poem chooses the least traveled path and says it made all the difference. The story could describe the life of John A. Logan College Student Trustee Jeremiah Brown, who had to either stay on the path his life was on or choose a new direction.

Jeremiah Brown was born in Chicago and moved with his grandmother to southern Illinois at nine. His family moved back to Chicago a few years later, but not before Brown had his first run-in with the law when he attempted to steal video games from a local retailer.

He moved back to Chicago, where the family was surrounded by violence. When his grandmother noticed that Jeremiah was starting to get involved in those activities, she decided to return to southern Illinois, settling in Murphysboro.

“When we moved back, I began to get into a lot of trouble with the law, going to juvenile hall four times between the ages of 13 and 16,” said Brown. “I also abused drugs, particularly marijuana, during that time.”

He had been removed from high school for repeated violations and was in the custody of DCFS, awaiting a court date, when he found out he was going to be a father. . Brown was born while his mother was incarcerated in the Cook County Jail and did not want that life for his daughter.

“I knew at that time that there were two ways that I could go. I could end up in jail, dead on drugs, or I go to school and get my life together.”

Brown took the first step and completed drug treatment. He then returned to high school, got a job, and found an apartment. He knew he wanted to go to college and provide a better life for his daughter. He enrolled at John A. Logan College and decided to major in Automotive Services after a life lesson.

“I had saved up enough money to get my first used car. I didn’t know anything about cars, but I acted like I knew everything about cars,” said Brown. “Well, two months later, the engine went out, and the mechanic showed me that the car was rusted on the bottom and unable to be repaired.”

After that incident, Brown became fascinated with learning everything he could about cars to avoid making the same mistake again.

“I knew that I wanted to work with my hands, and after my incident, I decided to study automotive technology not only for my benefit but also to help others avoid making the same mistake I made.”

After enrolling at the College, Brown began to get involved in activities and programs to improve his chances for success.

“The Perkins Grant helped me get my tools, and the TRIO program for first-generation college students has benefited me. I quickly learned that being involved has helped me become a more engaged and a better overall student.”

As he became more involved in campus activities, he learned about the opportunity to represent the student body on the Board of Trustees. With this opportunity, Brown hopes to be a voice for all students by learning as much as possible about the College.

“The opportunities I learned about, whether the Perkins Grant or the Foundation and the TRIO program, have benefited me. I want to ensure all students know that they have these programs to help them overcome obstacles to going to school.”

In addition to classes and his involvement on campus, Brown took advantage of the College’s apprenticeship program. John A. Logan College offers 12 program majors as Registered US Department of Labor Apprenticeships, one of which is Automotive Repair, Jeremiah’s program. In the apprenticeship program, a local employer provides formal on-the-job training in the form of a paid position while the student is in school. Upon completion of their education and work training, the student is issued a US Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship Certificate and an endorsement on their college transcript.

According to the College’s Associate Director of  Grants and Program Initiatives, Dr. Tammy Gwaltney, The apprenticeship is a win-win for everyone, especially a student as driven as Jeremiah Brown.

“The student gets a formal education while getting paid on-the-job training, and the employer receives a much-needed employee,” said Gwaltney. “He is a perfect example of someone that should be in this program. The employer loves Jeremiah because he is driven to learn and rise above what he gets in the classroom to apply it to his job.”

Despite balancing work, school, and family Jeremiah Brown is coveting his opportunity to build a better life, and he has advice for others on the same path he was going down.

“You need to try to do something better in your life, never give up, and never get comfortable and keep striving for greatness.”

Jeremiah Brown had a choice between two paths. One was going to lead to heartbreak and the other to opportunity. He chose the one less traveled, with challenges and a chance, and HE is making all the difference.

Jeremiah Brown