Dr. John Suarez

“My story starts with a simple flip of a page; Any wrong flip to the left or to the right would change my whole life from the start. I was adopted into a family from Illinois with little wealth as they had to earn every penny they would spend. Although money didn’t come easy, my parents still loved me and cared for me in a way that seemed almost impossible. Growing up, I wasn’t the easiest child to deal with, but my father always found a way to keep me in line. This was evident all throughout my elementary years. Even after being kicked out of school and low grades, I was able to prevail and ultimately end up at the University of Illinois. My parents each worked two jobs to barely put me through college, and it all paid off when I reached my doctorate degree from Northern Illinois University. There was only one bump in the road, and that was, my father became extremely ill, and I knew he wouldn’t be able to see me receive this esteemed honor. Before I turned in my dissertation, I took it to the hospital and we had a conversation about almost every page, but the most special moment came a little later. When my wife finally arrived in the hospital room, my dad was under morphine causing him not to be himself and hallucinate. My father, the man who had adopted me decades prior, acted as if he was me and the dissertation was his. He proceeded in telling my wife the following words with my papers in his hand: “Did you see what I did. I did it, and no one thought I would do it, but I did it. I’m going to do big things with this. ” At that moment I knew, I was about to accomplish everything I have ever dreamt of. My father passed soon after, and I graduated with a 4.0 with my doctoral degree — something that seemed unfathomable for what I had to overcome. The first thing I did after receiving my degree was an obligation which needed to be done. I took a copy of my dissertation and went down to my father’s grave. Along with my sister and mother, we burned the paper and spread the ashes so my dad would have a copy of his own. The man who raised me, in the most perfect sense of the word, deserved my most important accomplishment, and this was my way of saying thank you.”

– Dr. John Suarez, Director of Curriculum and Instruction

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