Roosevelt University alumni often achieve notable success after they graduate. Melissa Conyears-Ervin (MBA, ’03) already made her mark in Illinois politics as a state representative, and is now pursuing a bid for Chicago city treasurer.
With an initial start in corporate America, Conyears-Ervin felt unfulfilled by her previous jobs and wanted to marry her passion for community and her expertise in finance, which led to her campaign for Illinois State Representative in 2016.
She recently decided to announce her bid in October 2018 for Chicago city treasurer.
Prior to her foray into Illinois state politics, Conyears-Ervin worked at Allstate, which provided her a route to pursue her graduate studies. She simultaneously gained professional experience while completing her MBA studies.
“Roosevelt and Allstate had a great tuition reimbursement program that allowed employees to further their education,” she recalled. “Plus, I knew that Roosevelt’s MBA program would set me up for success in the future. My MBA allowed me to further my professional career and allowed me to move to a more senior management position while I was at Allstate.”
It was when she took on an Executive in Residency with Allstate that she discovered her need to serve her community.
“The organization I chose was Breakthrough Urban Ministries in Garfield Park. I wanted to work somewhere that I could make a difference in my community,” she said. “While at Breakthrough, I was impacted not only by the homeless clients turning their lives around, but also the joyfulness volunteers and staff exhibited while they worked to improve their world. I was able to see firsthand the effects on poverty in my community. I knew then that I had to have a more direct effect on what was going on around me.”
Conyears-Ervin said she was so moved by the compassion and joy in her community that she decided to run for Illinois state representative.
“I wanted to enact change in my community and fight for the people that I represent,” she said. “The time I spent at Roosevelt prepared me for diverse interactions as a state representative and allowed me to be represent my constituents.”
During her time as a representative, she directed over $221 million in funding to Chicago Public Schools and sponsored key legislation that protected child care assistance, something that helps working parents immensely.
With Chicago Municipal elections quickly approaching, Conyears-Ervin noted the difference between the types of campaigns she’s run.
“The main difference is the scope of the campaign. When you run for a seat in the Illinois House of Representatives, you have a district that can span different neighborhoods and parts of Chicago, running for City Treasurer encompasses the entire city. You need to balance the needs of an entire city instead of just the neighborhoods in your district,” Conyears-Ervin said. “However, there are a lot of aspects that are similar such as getting out and meeting voters and going to events and meeting with different Democratic organizations.”
Having been in the position of a student herself here at Roosevelt, Conyears-Ervin has strong advice for anyone wanting to follow in similar footsteps to hers: “Find something that you are passionate about and look for opportunities to volunteer and get involved within your community. Don't be afraid to start small and look for different avenues to help enact change
As a private, non-profit institution of higher education, Roosevelt University in no way endorses or promotes political candidates.