MALTA – It’s never too late to pursue your dreams, and Kishwaukee College student JoEllen Kile has shown just how far continuing education can take one person.
For her journey from secretary to mother to EMT to nursing student, Kile was awarded the Illinois Community College Trustees Association’s 2020 Lifelong Learning Award. She was presented with the statewide honor at this month’s Kishwaukee College Board of Trustees meeting, according to a news release.
“Her instructors say she brings a great deal to the classroom and her classmates with her wealth of experiences,” ICCTA Executive Director Jim Reed said. “‘Lifelong learner’ is one way to describe JoEllen Kile. But she is also a lifelong giver. She came to Kishwaukee College with a specific purpose and has gone out into the community to serve with her new skill set.”
In 2012, Kile had been out of high school for three decades. Her four children were grown and off pursuing their dreams. Kile decided it was time to pursue her own by enrolling at Kishwaukee College, even if that meant she didn’t have the appearance of a traditional college student.
“The students were young enough to be my grandchildren and the teachers my children,” Kile said. “Oh well, life is living with no regrets, no ‘what-ifs.’ ”
Kile took on the training to become an emergency medical technician when she enrolled eight years ago. That work in the medical field became her passion, and she quickly found a job working in the emergency room at Northwestern Medicine in DeKalb. In turn, the hospital has invested in allowing Kile to continue her education, as she was accepted into the Kish nursing program and now is in her second term. Kile plans to continue to work in the emergency room and as a transplant nurse. She lives in DeKalb with her husband, Joe, and their pit bull, Rosie.
“Kish is proud to be an institution that promotes and supports lifelong learning,” Kishwaukee College President Laurie Borowicz said. “JoEllen is an example of how a person can continue to pursue their career goals, never letting their age be a barrier. We are proud of JoEllen and her success – in college and the workplace. She adds much to our community.”
Kile’s instructors had high praise for her efforts in the classroom, noting her determination and the wealth of knowledge she brought for other students. In return, Kile gave kudos to all the faculty and staff at Kish who have helped her along the way.
“Kish is beyond supportive. From Lu in the Financial Aid Office to the library staff, ... there are so many people to thank,” she said. “Without everyone’s help, I wouldn’t be completing my [second] semester in the nursing program and following my dream.”