Alum Returns to CTK to Share Advice on College and Work

Standing up at the podium as part of the 2021 CTK College Signing Day ceremony, Daryah Ireland, CTK ‘17 thought of her own signing day just four short years ago. She began her remarks with, “I feel like I’m too young to be up here talking with you all.” The mature, confident college graduate giving advice to CTK’s current seniors had come a long way from being “a little rough around the edges” during her time at CTK.

The foundation of strong study habits, time management, and networking skills she established at CTK paved the way for a smooth transition to Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIU). Although outgoing by nature, she still needed to push herself to get to know her classmates and professors, who mostly didn’t look like her, and to ask for help when she needed it. Early on she decided she was going to pursue a different health care path than her nurse mother and go into health care administration. Her Corporate Work Study Program stint during her senior year at CTK working in administration at Arrupe College at Loyola University helped give her confidence working in a professional setting. “My supervisors took the time to teach me, providing direction and giving me the opportunity to learn on the job. I asked a lot of questions because I wanted to understand their expectations and for them to understand mine.

She is deservedly proud of graduating in four years from SIU with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and specialty in Health Care Enterprise. She credits a belief in herself and in God, and a willingness to being open to growth (her favorite Grad at Grad) and making connections.  On top of her studies, she also carved out time to work in the dining hall and be part of the National Association of Colored Women. Of course, the pandemic forced a shift to online learning for the end of her college experience which canceled many outside activities.

This fall, Daryah will be embarking on a 3-year dual master’s program at Southern Illinois combining Health Care Administration and Health Infomatics. She was drawn to this career path for the opportunity to use her people, organizational, and leadership skills, while helping people, - something she first enjoyed doing during her CTK service experiences. She intends to take most of her classes online, allowing her to also work part-time.  Her networking skills helped her to secure the first CTK alumni internship assisting her former College Counselor, and now CWSP Director, Daniel Zundel during the recent Summer Business Training program. She was excited to be able to give back to CTK and the staff, whose love and support she credits with helping her through CTK and SIU.

Her advice to new CTK students during Summer Business Training was consistent with what she shared with seniors on Signing Day, “Don’t give up on your dreams. Ask for help when you need it. Be open to meeting new people and experiences. Keep God first. Continue to set the world on fire!

Once a Gladiator, always a Gladiator.