Scott Community College Alumnus Joe Gomez is as big as a house, literally. Well, ok, not Joe specifically, but his image has been.
That’s because he’s part of a new billboard campaign that is the brainchild of a consortium of Quad Cities area colleges. His sign just completed a run on that big electronic billboard near Northpark Mall in Davenport.
“The seven colleges began working together several months ago to create a campaign, spreading the word of how much impact we have on our communities,” said Eastern Iowa Community Colleges (EICC) Associate Director for Marketing and Communications Alan Campbell. “Our first wave of billboards went up in September and others will be coming in the months ahead.”
In addition to EICC, the other colleges include Augustana College, Black Hawk College, Palmer College of Chiropractic, St. Ambrose University, Trinity School of Nursing and Health Sciences, and Western Illinois University.
Collectively the colleges graduate more than 4,000 students each year, with 16,000 college credit students attending and an annual economic impact of $405 million.
Each college was asked to suggest alumni to be featured in the billboard campaign and Gomez was the ultimate choice for EICC.
Gomez rose from what one might call a “checkered” past to completing Scott Community College’s Culinary Program and now owning his own business, Los Primos Mexican Grill on Locust St. in Davenport.
“It saved my life,” Gomez said of his college experience.
That’s because he started college after serving time in prison on drug charges. While behind bars he learned a couple of things; he didn’t want to go back and, he liked cooking. He started cooking while still in prison.
“I didn’t always make the best choices or decisions. Too often, I really didn’t care about other people and did what I wanted to do without always thinking about the consequences. Looking back, that led me to years of my life that were just wasted and not something I could be proud of.”
“My instructors at Scott really believed in me. They gave me a chance. Getting my degree wasn’t easy, I had to work hard and really commit to making it work.”
“I was so happy and so proud on the day I graduated. Now I put those feelings into my business, doing something I love and making people feel good to be here. I want everyone to know: If I can do this, you can do this!”
To learn more about the QC higher education campaign, go to qccolleges.com
For more about the Scott (and Muscatine) Community College Culinary Program go to eicc.edu/culinaryarts