Name: Mark Edmond

Hometown: Lansing, Mich.

Title: Executive Director of Community Outreach

Business: YMCA of Rock River Valley; Rockford, Ill.

Mark arrived with a guarded attitude about Lakeland’s relatively small, rural community.

Four years later, he left with a degree – and a much different perspective.

"My experience at Lakeland College molded me into the person I am today,” Mark says. “I would never trade it for anything in the world."

After his freshman year, Mark, a homesick young football player, considered transferring. But his classmates, teammates and professors, particularly professor of sociology and nonprofit organization management Don Francis, helped him get through the rocky time.

“Dr. Francis cared about everything I did, just like everyone at Lakeland,” Mark says. “Lakeland taught me what real life is all about. As a young African-American male, I wasn’t sure what kind of role I could fill. But at Lakeland, it doesn’t matter what race you are, how tall or short you are or anything else. If you care, you will be taken care of there. People will reach out to you and help you. I learned so many life lessons there. The people at Lakeland College truly do care.”

Mark says his position is challenging and rewarding.

“I love it,” he says. “Our focus is youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, and I believe in those things. It’s a tough ride sometimes. The ‘Y’ is out there for everybody, so we get people from all walks of life. Some days I’m a counselor. Other days I’m something else. But it’s rewarding. There is never a cookie-cutter day.”