Student activities director retires

As they say, after climbing the mountain, you can finally FULLY enjoy the view. 

As of June 18, 2020, Pam Dilday, Director of Student Activities, will be retiring after 24 years at JJC.

While her work has been challenging at times, Dilday says, “I’ve had many great people who I’ve worked with and gave me the freedom to create programs for students.”

Dilday started her career at JJC in October of 1995 at the City Center Campus in the Dislocated Worker Program. She was the Outreach Specialist for a year and a half.

As part of her position, Dilday would go to the Illinois Department of Employment Security offices and show individuals that they could upgrade their skills at JJC under a grant and it would not cost them a penny as long as they qualified for the program.

In addition, Dilday did community work with agencies and created newsletters for the department. She also led career training for people who were attending school while seeking to improve their interviewing and resume skills, for example.

Upon applying for the JJC Child Care position, Dilday met the Director of Student Activities, who, at the time, supervised the center and mentioned a Holistic Wellness Coordinator position that would be opening at the Main Campus in the near future.

Dilday opted to wait for that position and was hired as the Holistic Wellness Coordinator in 1997 and continued with the position for a few years. As part of her role, Dilday hosted the first ever Wellness Fair, led many “Lunch and Learn” events, and did campaigns for Sexual Responsibility, Alcohol Awareness, and more.

It was not until after this that Dilday became the Coordinator of Student Activities and Holistic Wellness, where she got to work with clubs and do more general programming. She remained in the position for nine years until Anissa Jones left for a new role.

Dilday then applied for the role Jones left behind, the Director of Student Activities. She was officially hired in 2006. She spent 14 years in that position with the exception of a temporary role she took on in 2008.

Over the years, Dilday has taught College Success courses; however, she did not have experience with higher education before she came to Joliet Junior College.

“I’ve loved my interactions with the students most of all,” Dilday said. “I think my favorite thing is when students who I met early on in my career come back to see me and tell me what an impact I had on their life.”

From J.D. Ross, former President of Joliet Junior College, and Dr. Betsy Oudenhoven, former Vice President of Joliet Junior College, to the students, the people are what have kept Dilday at JJC. She is still in touch with Ross, Oudenhoven, and many of the students she has worked with.

Upon announcing parting ways with her career at JJC, Dilday has received much love and support through Facebook. “That means so much to me,” DIlday said. “I’ve made lifelong friends at JJC. I learned that I would do just about anything I was asked to do from wearing all kinds of weird costumes to being the mascot for different functions.”

Dilday has always shown immense dedication to her students. “One that comes to mind is when Phi Theta Kappa members asked me to be the Keynote Speaker for their induction ceremony,” said Dilday.

While Dilday sees herself as more of an informal speaker, she spoke about leadership lessons learned from minions.

“If you see my office, you would know how much I love minions. I’ve received minion things from students and have quite the collection.”

The countless people Dilday has affected appreciate her hard work and contributions over the years. A student she nominated to be a Student Commencement Speaker was chosen and happily mentioned Dilday in his graduation speech.

She says, “I can still cry when watching that video!”

While Dilday did not personally attend a community college, her time at JJC showed her how much growth occurs there.

For example, Dilday herself learned how to do more with less. Despite her and her fellow employees’ efforts to consistently add programs, there were no viable budget increases. However, her team made it work.

Building the Wellness Program when no one had done so before allowed Dilday to complete service projects with students and observe them continue to complete new service projects afterwards.

Dilday was awarded a grant for Generations to Connect, where her and her team paired retirees from JJC with students. Then, they went to the Child Care Center to read, where multiple generations connected.

“Lastly, I organized ‘sobering stories,’ which were impact statements made by survivors from drunk driving crashes,” Dilday said. “It was an amazing display of personal stories on how alcohol affected their families.”

The Secretary of State recognized this idea and sent it to all colleges statewide.

Dilday served as the President of the Illinois Community College Student Activities Association (ICCSAA) for six years. She loved the role and got the opportunity to do several presentations at other community colleges as part of the ICCSAA Speaker’s Bureau and help create that resource for colleges to use.

Every job has challenges, and Dilday’s fantastic work ethic made it difficult for her to wait for approval on certain ideas or programs. 

“I learned patience and had to slow down a bit,” she said. “A former dean said to “trust the process” and that was a hard lesson for me to learn. I didn’t necessarily like the process and just wanted to make things happen.” 

After all was said and done though, things managed to work out for Dilday. 

Dilday has no concrete plans yet for post-retirement. “I love to bake and can see myself baking for friends who may want to order baked goods,” she said. “I may substitute teach if the world ever goes back to normal, whatever that is and I also plan to help our parents more.”

Dilday will be leaving a legacy behind her at JJC, and she wants to share some wise words with students of the world:

“I think all students need to get involved in their college, no matter where it is…it opens doors for them and gives them great experiences outside of the classroom.”

A quote she lives by says, “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.”

In other words, students will go farther when they enter a situation with respect and intend to follow the correct protocol and process. To do this, students have to “play nice in the sandbox.”

Dilday says, “Don’t treat people differently because they look different…treat everyone with respect and respect will be returned to you. You need to follow the golden rule and treat others as you would want to be treated.

“You can also learn a lot about people by opening up and just having conversations. I’ve learned more at JJC than in my educational programs just by talking to students…everyone has a story to tell and I would encourage them to tell it to anyone who will listen!”

So tell your story, and never forget those who made your story what it is. JJC will never forget the joy Pam Dilday brought to others and the improvements she has made to the education system.

We wish Pam the best of luck in whatever she chooses to do in the future because we know that no matter what it is, it will be great.