Jordan Colon, the senior coordinator for Early College programs at Harry S Truman College, plays an important role in the lives of young people in the city of Chicago.

City Colleges of Chicago’s Early College program provides high school juniors and seniors with the opportunity to enroll in college-level courses for free. As a first-generation high school and college graduate, Jordan says that he sees a lot of himself in these students. That’s why he puts extra effort into ensuring there are Early College opportunities for students who grew up like him—in Black and Brown neighborhoods where the students look like him. Jordan wants to show these students that the future they desire is accessible.

“There are brilliant young people who just can’t access education because it’s not always accessible,” Jordan said.

According to the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB), not only are more students enrolling in early college programs, but students who took at least one dual credit course before graduating high school and enrolling at a community college have a considerably higher advancement rate than those students who did not enroll in dual credit coursework.

Jordan’s work in the Early College program has taken him to Albany Park, Humboldt Park, Avondale, Brighton Park, and all over the city of Chicago. He’s most fulfilled when students who say they never thought they’d take a college course enroll in Early College.

“It’s an attempt to help out students who remind me of myself across the city of Chicago,” he said. “I want them to understand there are people that can help.”

Jordan is also passionate about increasing the number of men of color in higher education and improving Truman’s retention numbers for men of color. Thanks to the Takeoff Grant that Truman College received from the U.S. Department of Education, Jordan and his team plan to launch a mentorship program to support that effort. Faculty and staff will be paired with male students of color who have similar experiences and backgrounds. The goal is to help improve retention rates with extra support and to celebrate benchmarks like the successful completion of their first semester.

Jordan is grateful for his colleagues at Truman who are willing to try different things, like going into high schools to teach Early College courses. He’s also grateful for the partnerships that allow Chicago high schoolers the opportunity to earn college credit.

"These are wonderful students who will be the future of our city. My goal is to help schools see Early College as a benefit.""