Joseph Prendergast

Fifty years ago, Joseph Prendergast ’66 graduated from Lewis College with a bachelor’s degree in English. Now a retired teacher after more than four decades in the education field, he travels the world touching the lives of others.

“Lewis opened the door for me; my only job was to walk through it, and I definitely did,” Joseph says.

The oldest of 12 children, Joseph struggled financially to get through school. After receiving a scholarship, he was able to take full advantage of what Lewis had to offer. Lewis College in the 60’s was an all men’s college with only two dormitories on campus. Involved in Student Council and Yearbook Committee, Joseph took extra classes in various subjects to ensure he got the most out of his education in college.

After graduating from Lewis, Joseph went on to earn his master’s degree in Education, with a focus in reading, from Northern Illinois University. Throughout Joseph’s professional career, he worked as a reading teacher in Township High School District 214 for Elk Grove High School and Wheeling High School and as a Reading /ESL/AP English teacher for Rolling Meadows High School.  Soon after retiring in 2001, he began working as a part-time English teacher at Guangxi University in Southwest China, teaching English as a second language for nearly three years. For 47 years, the impact Joseph had on so many young lives was made possible through the belief and financial support of scholarships at Lewis University that allowed him to earn his degree.

Joseph’s influences from Lewis still unfold every day and did during every step of his professional career. “Lewis provided me with a broad foundation of knowledge. I can now walk into a museum, go to a concert hall, study a new language or read a book and appreciate it,” he says.

Inspired by the great teachers he had at Lewis, Joseph felt confident in his ability to help young people grow their skills inside and outside of the classroom. He dedicated his life to making a difference in his students’ lives. In fact, he continues to do so by tutoring in his spare time.

Now an enthusiastic traveler with working knowledge of French and Chinese, Joseph spends much of his time traveling between China and Paris with his wife, Patricia. He is grateful for the experiences he had as a Flyer at Lewis College. “Lewis prepares you to live a culturally rich life, and I have done that,” Joseph adds.

Joseph encourages others to learn a new language, gain knowledge in areas outside of their comfort zone, and truly find ways to enrich their life.

“I have been able to touch so many lives as a teacher,” says Joseph. “I owe much of my success to Lewis, for providing me with a solid foundation of knowledge that led me to such an enriching career and life.”


September 2016

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