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Meet Danton Floyd.
Floyd is getting a second shot at a career he’s passionate about.
At the same time, he’s giving Chicago’s African-American youth the inspiration they need to get it right the first time.
He got the boost he needed to do it all through UIC College of Education’s Youth Development master’s program.
“I don’t think there is anywhere else in the world that would give me what UIC did,” he said.
High school never nurtured Floyd, whose goal those four years was to get out.
He had a vague notion that he needed to go to college to make money. So he did. He cast about trying to find a major that suited him. After the third try, he settled on marketing. But that didn’t make him happy, and it showed like a stop light in his grades.
After graduation, Floyd started working in the community, but knew he needed more. His connections brought him to education policy Associate Professor David Stovall. After that first conversation, Floyd was hooked: UIC was his next home. He then met with Dean Victoria Chou, who led him to YD Professor Stacey Horn. That meeting changed his life.
Floyd had the passion to help make the lives of teenagers in the city better. He had the drive. But he didn’t have the grades, and wasn’t exactly sure what he wanted to do.
Horn helped lead him on that journey. Floyd started taking classes as a non-degree –seeking student to bring up his GPA. Now that he had found his mission in life, Floyd knew he could make the grades. And he did. With guidance from Horn and Stovall, he was finally accepted into the YD program.
“It was so funny. I was looking over my transcripts when I applied to UIC and I noticed I had a lot of nontraditional classes. I had a class called ‘youths as agents for change’ – that was an ‘A’ class. I had ‘youth in society.’ That was another ‘A.’”
“Hindsight," he said, "is 20/20.”
Now, there is no more looking back. Floyd who plans to graduate with his master’s degree in May, works at the Institute for Youth and Community Engagement at Chicago State University. He serves as a violence prevention coordinator/program coordinator for a project called Truth in Trauma. The students he works with, who come from Roseland and the surrounding area, will use theater, research and other skills to address pressing issues that they believe most impact their communities.
He couldn't have done it alone, he said. UIC’s YD program infuses its curriculum with theory and strategies about social justice and empowering youth – skills that can make real change in someone’s life.
“The other programs out there are cookie-cutter,” he said. “But UIC? It makes you better.”