Myskeshia Mitchell ’01 MA ’10, creator of innovative educational programs in Cook County School District 130, received the 2014 Distinguished Young Alumni honor from the Bradley University Black Alumni Alliance. Mitchell piloted a full-day kindergarten program in the district and built a counseling program from scratch.
Mitchell, who earned a B.S. in retail merchandising and a M.A. in human development counseling from Bradley, took on the challenge of implementing the counseling program in 2010. She and two other counselors in the 4,000-student elementary district have worked to provide career guidance, emotional and mental support for students.
“In order for change to take place, you have to be willing to put yourself out there,” she said. “I had to be the visionary, transformer and surveyor — a professional school counselor dedicated to service and education of all.”
Because the district previously utilized social workers but not counselors, Mitchell used her Bradley education to help district leadership and parents understand the change while she designed curricula and counseled students.
The shift resulted in positive reviews from parents and students alike.
“I’ve had students tell me that they’re glad I’m there,” Mitchell said. “I also had students and parents thank me for helping them with social and emotional issues as well as helping them apply to private high schools. It feels good when you have parents who call you or help and understand that you are there to support them and their children.”
Life lessons from the Hilltop spurred Mitchell to make a positive impact in the school system. She credited much of her growth as an undergraduate to Delta Sigma Theta sisters, Dr. Arwin Smallwood, Prof. Anne Herbert and Center for Student Involvement Executive Director Mike Keup. When she returned for graduate school, “honest and uplifting” faculty Dr. Lori Russell-Chapin, Dr. Nancy Sherman, Dr. Timothy Drew and Dr. Chris Ryback guided her through the program.
“I love my alma mater and consider myself a walking advertisement in being B.R.A.V.E. — building relationships and versatility everywhere,” Mitchell said. “My professors always pushed me and encouraged me to be a change agent. Plus, Bradley taught me to be more tolerant and showed me how to work with people of all ethnicities.”
In addition to the two degrees from Bradley, Mitchell has master’s degrees in elementary education and educational administration from St. Xavier University.