Teresa Carrillo, a Joliet Junior College English instructor, has been selected as the 2019 Faculty Commencement Speaker.
The message she wants to convey to students is that it takes hard work to be successful in life. The JJC journey may be over, but the work is not over.
“Homework is done, but hard work has begun,” said Carrillo.
She also wants to remind the graduates to be humble.
“Life is not all about you. Every day, look for an opportunity to help someone else,” said Carrillo.
To start each semester, Carrillo tells her students the same story. When she was 11, her mother was involved in a car accident that left her impaired with a brain injury. Because her mother was unable to work, her father shouldered the burden of providing for a family of six. When she was a teenager she remembers her father saying, “There are two things in life that I cannot give you, they are a car and a college education. For those two things you’re going to have to work.”
Though her family couldn’t assist with her college education financially, they were always there to cheer her on. As a first-generation student, Carrillo sometimes had to work three jobs to get through college and sought financial assistance through scholarships.
Carrillo grew up in Goshen, Indiana before moving to South Carolina for her bachelor’s degree. There, she taught high school English while working on her master’s degree at Clemson University. In 2001, Carrillo moved back to the Midwest for her husband’s job and to be closer to family.
She began her journey at JJC in 2009 as a tutor before joining the faculty full time in 2010.
“My husband always says, ‘If you cut me open, my heart is the shape of an apple!’ That’s how much I love education,” laughed Carrillo.
Carrillo has three siblings, a twin brother and two younger brothers. She and her husband of 24 years, Jeff, reside in Bolingbrook with their three children, Kendra (17), Lance (15), Trey (13) and Kara (10).
She is very active in her church, Marquette Manor Baptist Church, where she has been teaching women’s ministries since 2007.
When she’s not in the classroom, Carrillo enjoys planting pumpkins in her community garden and going for walks. Her kids are also very involved in sports and music, keeping her busy most of the time.
“Their hobbies are my hobbies! My kids are my hobbies,” said Carrillo.
Although she has many hobbies, teaching is her true passion.
“I think there’s no better way to serve my fellow man than in public education,” said Carrillo.
JJC's 103rd Annual Commencement Ceremony is Friday, May 17 at 6 p.m. in the Event Center, 1215 Houbolt Road.
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