It’s never too late to pursue your dreams, and Kishwaukee College student JoEllen
Kile has shown just how far continuing education can take one person.
For her journey from secretary to mother to EMT to nursing student, Kile was awarded
the Illinois Community College Trustees Association’s (ICCTA) 2020 Lifelong Learning
Award. She was presented with the state-wide honor at this month’s Kishwaukee College
Board of Trustee’s meeting.
“Her instructors say she brings a great deal to the classroom and her classmates with
her wealth of experiences,” said ICCTA Executive Director Jim Reed. “Lifelong learner
is one way to describe JoEllen Kile. But she is also a lifelong giver. She came to
Kishwaukee College with a specific purpose and has gone out into the community to
serve with her new skill set.”
In 2012, Kile had been out of high school for three decades. Her four children were
grown and off pursuing their dreams. Kile decided it was time to pursue her own by
enrolling at Kishwaukee College, even if that meant she didn’t have the appearance
of a traditional college student.
“The students were young enough to be my grandchildren and the teachers my children,”
Kile said. “Oh well, life is living with no regrets, no ‘what-ifs.’”
Kile took on the training to become an emergency medical technician when she enrolled
eight years ago. That work in the medical field became her passion and she quickly
found a job working in the emergency room at Northwestern Medicine in DeKalb. In turn,
the hospital has invested in allowing Kile to continue her education even further
as she was accepted into the Kish Nursing Program and is now in her second term. Kile
plans to continue to work in the emergency room and as a transplant nurse. She lives
in DeKalb with her husband Joe and their pit bull Rosie.
“Kish is proud to be an institution that promotes and supports lifelong learning,”
said Kishwaukee College President Dr. Laurie Borowicz. “JoEllen is an example of how
a person can continue to pursue their career goals, never letting their age be a barrier.
We are proud of JoEllen and her success — in College and the workplace. She adds much
to our community.”
Kile’s instructors had high praise for her efforts in the classroom, taking note of
her determination and the wealth of knowledge she brought for other students. In return,
Kile gave kudos to all the faculty and staff at Kish that has helped her along the
“Kish is beyond supportive. From Lu in the Financial Aid Office to the library staff…there
are so many people to thank,” she said. “Without everyone’s help, I wouldn’t be completing
my (second) semester in the nursing program and following my dream.”