Inspirational Roosevelt University Graduate Appointed to Champaign City Council

Photo credit: Robin Scholz/The News-Gazette

CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–July 30, 2015. Clarissa Nickerson Fourman overcame incredible obstacles in order to graduate from Roosevelt University’s online Bachelor in Professional Studies degree program in 2012. 

A ward of the state of Illinois for much of her life, she moved from foster home to foster home as a child in the Champaign-Urbana and Bloomington, Ill. area. Dropping out of school at age 15, she spent most of her teenaged and young-adult years raising children. It then took the mother of five more than a decade to catch up and get on track with college and a career. 

Appointed in June to a seat on the Champaign City Council, Nickerson has unsurprisingly focused her message and image around three words: “We can overcome.” 

“I think there is a need for people to see that they can overcome anything if they put their minds to it,” said Nickerson Fourman, who works as a paralegal in Champaign. She is currently completing an online master’s degree in legal studies from West Virginia University and is planning to go to law school. 

A resident of northwest Champaign’s District One where gun violence, drugs and unemployment are rampant, Nickerson Fourman applied to fill a vacancy on the Champaign City Council because she wanted to help people who are struggling in her community. 

“Just as Roosevelt University’s story is one of courage, so is Clarissa Nickerson Fourman’s,” said Donnette Noble, assistant professor of organizational leadership and one of the alumna’s mentors. “She exemplifies the University’s goals that challenge students to exceed expectations and to own their own futures.” 

Receiving a college degree at Roosevelt has been a major turning point for Nickerson, 29, who, as a new city council member, has been encouraging constituents to consider college as transformational. 

“Roosevelt University gave me hope. I know I wouldn’t be able to do all that I’m doing now without the degree. It truly changed my life,” she said.

Read more about Clarissa in the News-Gazette profile of her.