Oakton Announces 2023 Distinguished Alumni Awardees

Pictured from left to right are Jerrod Tucker, Julian Thompson, Filza Ali and Nathan Norman.
Des Plaines (Sept. 15, 2023) - Celebrate four accomplished Oakton College alums at the Distinguished Alumni Awards presentation and reception, Sept. 28, 6 p.m. on Oakton’s Des Plaines Campus. This year’s honorees distinguished themselves with their commitment to building just and thriving communities, which is Oakton’s strategic plan Vision 2030 goal.

Filza Ali, Skokie
While a student at Oakton, Ali was active in the Oakton Muslim Student Association, becoming the organization's president in her second year. After earning an associate in arts degree, Ali transferred to Loyola University, receiving the highly sought-after full-ride Magis Scholarship for undocumented students. Despite the challenges due to her undocumented status, Ali remained committed to serving undocumented and immigrant students.

She facilitated the Share the Dream Undocumented Ally Training for over 300 Loyola students and employees. Additionally, she hosted events like “UndocuWeek” to create platforms for undocumented students to network and strengthen their connection with the community.

Ali graduated with honors from Loyola, earning a B.S. in Biological Sciences, and now works as an associate research strategy and operations analyst at a local biotechnology company. In her free time, she continues advocating, including lobbying at Capitol Hill for immigration reform.

Nathan Norman, Skokie
After graduating from Oakton with an associate in arts degree, Norman transferred to Northeastern Illinois University, where he graduated Suma Cum Laude, earning a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a minor in Child Advocacy Studies. He later earned a master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University.

Norman has worked for the City of Evanston for 11 years and has been passionate about serving young people for over a decade. In his current role as the workforce development manager, he connects Evanston youth and young adults with workforce development opportunities and resources that contribute to sustainable career paths.

Norman is a well-known advocate in the Evanston community and serves as the ambassador for Oakton’s Emory Williams Academy for Black Men, a unique program designed to support the success of Oakton’s Black male-identifying students.

Julian G. Thompson, Chicago
After attending Oakton, Thompson transferred to Loyola University and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. Later, he received a master’s degree in Sociology from DePaul University and a doctorate in Social Welfare from the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy and Practice at the University of Chicago.

Throughout his educational journey, Thompson excelled in his scholarly work and served in leadership positions at various local organizations supporting vulnerable populations with job reentry, housing and access to mental health services.

Thompson has authored many articles on various social work topics. Currently, he is an assistant professor at the Department of Criminology, Law and Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Jerrod W. Tucker, Jacksonville, Fla.
While studying at Oakton, Tucker was a basketball team captain and led the team to its first trip to the national tournament. After transferring with a scholarship to Bellevue University in Nebraska, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management and later a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Florida.

Tucker was inducted into the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference Hall of Fame in 2019. Currently, he is the head coach of the Jacksonville 95ers, a men's professional basketball team based in Jacksonville, Fla., that plays in The Basketball League (TBL). He also serves as dean and head varsity basketball coach at a local charter school.

In addition to coaching and training, Tucker is an active community member volunteering his time to support homeless and low-income populations.

To RSVP, please visit oakton.edu/alumni by Sept. 25. The event is open to the community and free to attend. For more information, contact the Office of Alumni Relations at alumni@oakton.edu or 847.635.1813.