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Tiffany Peppers

Photo of Tiffany PeppersGoing to college helped Tiffany Peppers get a better life, and she is eager to help others in the African American community also gain the benefits of an education.

Peppers, the executive director of JIC Community Development Corp., a Waukegan-based non-profit whose services include free tutoring for K-12 students, is a community volunteer on CLC’s African American Outreach Committee.

Many parents in the African American community don’t understand the value of a college degree, or they feel they can’t afford to send their kids to college, Peppers said.

“When talking to their kids, they still view college as an ‘if’ rather than a ‘when,’” she said.

Peppers herself started her adult worklife without realizing the importance of earning a degree. After graduating from Waukegan High School, she held waitressing and clerical jobs. Then in 2002, she was hired by a local pharmaceutical manufacturer and was able to advance from an entry-level filing job to a sales training coordinator. But after five years, she hit a dead-end because she didn’t have a degree.

Though Peppers had begun taking courses at CLC in 1999, she had not completed either an associate or bachelor’s degree. After realizing her career was stalled, she decided to focus on getting a degree. She transferred her CLC credits to Columbia College of Missouri and completed a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration and human resource management in 2010. Three years later, she completed a Master in Business Administration degree from Olivet Nazarene University.

Today, as an executive director at her church, Peppers is responsible for managing finances and keeping the business practices cost-efficient and transparent. The skills that she learned in her undergraduate and graduate education are critical to being successful in her position, she believes.

CLC started her on the road to being a college graduate, and Peppers believes it is a smart choice for others. “I went to CLC and it turned out better than fine,” she said.