Brian Hodges

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“You will get more out of [OMD] than you will ever know. . . My scholar's hunger for knowledge made me reevaluate how I spent my time. I learned just as much from him as he learned from me.”

Brian joined One Million Degrees out of a desire to give back – he had worked in Higher Education and volunteered with high school students, but never with community college students. He came into his volunteer role with expectations of being “a sounding board for ideas” and “an advisor for any questions.” What he found instead was so much more.

He was matched with Jarrell, a scholar studying at Prairie State College. Brian helped him prioritize his responsibilities – he was being “pulled in a lot of directions, from school to his job to family to his own interests.” With Brian’s help, Jarrell was able to figure out the goals he wanted to set and how to go about accomplishing them. They worked together on creating and updating a resume: “He had a very humble one, he didn't understand how much he's done already.” Brian had already become so much more than a sounding board. Brian’s relationship with Jarell developed to the point where Brian was “helping him become a young man” and Jarrell “helped [him] become a better one.” They became extremely close: “My scholar viewed me as a father figure.”

Brian’s favorite moment was seeing Jarrell in his cap and gown: “It was a great feeling seeing him accomplish his goals.” Although Brian has since moved from Chicago, he still looks back fondly on his time as a coach, and the growth he made by mentoring Jarrell. His relationship with Jarrell had been a two way street, where he learned lessons from Jarrell even while imparting his own wisdom. One such lesson he learned from Jarrell? “Never stop learning.”