“OMD is simply a part of me. For as long as I am able, I will continue to play a role in supporting its unlimited and promising future.”
Dr. Connie Mixon, a founding board member of OMD, was a Dean and Professor at City Colleges of Chicago when OMD was created, thus holding knowledge and experience that could be leveraged to great effect. When she was initially approached about getting involved in the organization, she held a key insight that continues to guide OMD’s work today: “For community college students, it is not just the financial hurdles keeping students from succeeding and completing. More often than not, it is life.” From this foundation, she helped shape and build up the supports that are still the keystones of the OMD model: advising, tutoring, and mentoring.
Through each stage of the organization’s development, transitioning from the DMK Foundation to the IEF, and finally One Million Degrees, Connie was there to help it along. She saw the work she was doing through OMD as “a vehicle to promote the public good and advance social justice,” while addressing “important and complex social, economic, and political injustices and inequalities in our society.” Throughout the experience, she too was learning and growing: “OMD Scholars continually provide me with unique learning opportunities. Our scholars renew and inspire my creativity, motivation, vision, and teaching.”
Today, Connie is an acclaimed Professor of Political Science and Director of the Urban Studies program at Elmhurst College, in addition to authoring several articles, co-editing a book, and providing political commentary and analysis for national media outlets. She maintains her deep ties with OMD, serving as a coach and attending events such as Scholar Orientation and Scholar Awards. She hopes that OMD will “continue expanding and further institutionalizing our model of supporting community college students,” and remains excited about the “unlimited potential” of both the scholars and OMD itself.