University Park, IL,
13:31 PM

Back to Work, Back to You: A Govenors State Student's Story

Heather Haynes-Jones found her niche following a forced job transition, thanks to Governors State University (GSU).

She had been working as a General Manager at a local corporate hotel when it was sold to a franchise that had its own management team in place. Always proactive, Heather had already earned her Associate Degree from Joliet Junior College, so she visited their Downtown Resource Center for job search support.

There she learned about the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA); a federally funded grant program that assists unemployed individuals in entering or returning to the workforce through providing education and training vouchers to dislocated workers.

Governors State offered WIOA-approved programs, but the one she wanted (a bachelor’s degree in Communications), was not yet approved.

To her surprise, the team at GSU’s School of Extended Learning, went through the process to get the degree approved, just for her. She complete her Communications degree in the fall of 2012 in an accelerated schedule (a little over a year) and celebrated the beginning  of an ongoing relationship with GSU, and the turning point in her career.

In November 2013, Haynes-Jones had been asked to speak at a meeting for the Chicago Southland Chamber’s Hospitality and Education Committee. Her co-presenter was from GSU, and that meeting led to her being invited to join the committee and lend her valuable expertise. “Soft skills training was the number one opportunity for the hotels,” she told them. Shortly after she was asked to handle all the marketing and communications for the Chamber.

“Because I had the communications skills, from a human relations perspective, my network just kept expanding,” Haynes-Jones shared. “After the sitting chamber President left in 2016, I was asked to step into the role. I wanted to be the change that I wished to see. That’s what WIOA gave me. It made me a better person.”

Haynes-Jones is now the Downtown Property Manager for the Village of Park Forest, where she recruits retail and service businesses to establish a presence in the community.

To start the new year with your own transformation, join the next WIOA free information session on Feb.  27, 2020 at Governors State University. Click here to register.