Courage to change

June 3, 2016

Stuck in dead-end jobs, Jeffery Redmond empowered himself to change the world

“Ask yourself every day, ‘What would you do if you didn’t doubt yourself?’ and then do that,” said Jeffery Redmond.

This philosophy led Redmond to Johnson County Community College, to membership in its student senate and then to the presidency of the group. For Redmond, the idea of college wasn’t just to better himself, but to help better others along the way.

“I want people to know – it’s OK. Life doesn’t have to suck. You can do anything you want with your life,” he said, smiling.

Conscious change

Redmond knows of what he speaks. After high school, he bounced from one unfulfilling job to the next, covering the low-wage land of retail, restaurant and customer service.

He kept waiting for things to “get better.” They didn’t.

“I saw no one was going to come save us. No one was going to change my life but me. I needed to change my life to the way I thought it should be,” Redmond said.

He sat down and consciously thought of ways he could make the world better and settled on engineering. In that career, he could preserve and protect drinkable water, breathable air and the communities that needed both.

Here was the problem, though: Redmond wasn’t a math whiz, and engineers need a great deal of mathematics. Others may have thrown out the idea. Redmond signed up for Elementary Algebra (MATH 115).

“What I want is always more than what is currently possible, but I think that’s the way it should be,” Redmond explained.

Putting in the work

Steadily, he worked his way through the math sequence, through intermediate algebra, then college algebra, then calculus, until he most recently completed Differential Equations (MATH 254). That jump from 115 to 254 is bigger than the numbers might suggest.

Redmond, 29, took these classes and more while working two (sometimes three) part-time jobs to support himself.

“I cut costs where I can,” he said. “I find a way to make it work. My education is the most important to me, so it’s about setting priorities.”

Mindy Kinnaman, manager of student life and leadership development, worked with Redmond as adviser of student senate.

“Jeff has a passion for individuals and doing his best to help them reach their goals, whether on a personal or a large-scale level,” she said.

“His commitment to others shows through his daily interactions with everyone. Through those interactions, Jeff has found inspiration in how to serve and make things better for all.”