“Transformational.” That’s how Joseph Onesimus, Internship Coordinator, described his hiring at Elgin Community College 15 years ago.
“When I was hired, my life was transformed,” said Onesimus. “My passion is to invest myself in mentoring others. I now get to do what I love and work with others who share the same vision.”
Onesimus spends his days meeting with ECC students and discussing the importance of adding the word ‘experience’ to their resumes. Beyond grades and certifications, he believes experience makes the difference in a student’s pursuit of their career aspirations.
“I see myself as a guide who helps students discover more about themselves by adding an experiential learning opportunity before they graduate from ECC,” he adds. “I get an opportunity to be involved in the success story of another engineer, another doctor, another scientist, another entrepreneur, or another successful employee. This tenacious pursuit from our students adds purpose in my job and gives me joy in doing what I do.”
Learn more about Onesimus and the bright future he envisions for all ECC students below.
In your words, what do you do at ECC?
I lead the internship programs at ECC under the department of Strategic Partnerships and Experiential Learning. I have the opportunity to meet and to listen to our students’ aspirations and dreams of what careers they want to pursue after they graduate from ECC. I also serve as an adjunct faculty of business communication and report writing.
The dreams I hear from our dedicated, focused, and driven students are amazing. These students want to make a difference in their generation, and that is inspiring. I get a chance to look into the eyes of our courageous students and know that America has a bright future. Every day I get a chance to listen to our students share with me their quest for knowledge and the desire to be successful.
What is your greatest accomplishment since you’ve been here?
Being involved in the learning process with the students is amazing. I learn as the students learn, and taking classes for 15 years is quite an accomplishment.
What would you do if you were ECC president for a day?
Have a day set apart to just listen to our students share what they would do if they were ECC president. I think there is so much we can learn from our young leaders. We have to tailor education to meet them where they are. That is transformational leadership at its best.
If there was a movie about your life, who would you want to play you?
That is a tough question. I don’t think anybody knows me well enough to play me in a movie. I would probably want to spend time with someone scholarly, tenacious, and a good thinker before they can portray my life. Maybe a Denzel Washington-type. I guess what I am saying is that I enjoy good conversations over a delicious cup of AA Kenyan or Ethiopian coffee if Mr. Washington is interested.
What’s on your “bucket list?”
I‘d like to visit Poland and the Grand Cayman Islands. I also want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, which I grew up seeing every day.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work (i.e. hobbies/interests)?
I love to read books on leadership development and philosophical theology, and to play golf when I can. I also love to go jogging.
Where was the best place you’ve traveled to? Or, where would you like to visit?
I loved the Seychelles—beautiful islands in the Indian Ocean—but Kauai Island in Hawaii is still on the top of my list as one of the most beautiful places in the universe. I would also love to visit Zanzibar soon.
What’s one fact we should know about you?
I do not sweat the small stuff, and I always think of a Plan B for when Plan A does not work. I believe there is always an alternative. All things are possible and humans can overcome a lot of challenges when we are determined—including running a marathon in under 2 hours.
What’s something about your job that others should know?
It is transformational and it gives me hope for a brighter tomorrow.
What would be your “theme song?”
Martin Luther’s Ein Feste Burg ist unser Gott (A Mighty Fortress is our God). A good orchestra can really make this song inspirational.
What was your favorite class in school (could be elementary, high school or college)? Philosophy and leadership classes, especially with Dr. Eugene Habecker of Lancaster Graduate School.
What was your first job out of school?
I taught English to Korean missionaries. I also worked at Biblia Broadcasting Network in Kenya as a radio producer and presenter.
What quote best describes your philosophy?
I believe he who leads must first learn to follow. Give your best to others, do everything to the glory of God, and learn how to number your days. If I get the opportunity to live to 80 years, I have 12,754 days left on planet Earth.
Complete this sentence: “I enjoy working at ECC because … “
There is a sense of shared vision and a valuable community that nurtures the educational dreams of our future generation.”