Eastern Mennonite University

Spring 2007

Sharecropper’s Son Goes Far

Joe, Brian and Jackie HamlettJoe, Brian and Jackie Hamlett
In the late 1960s, Joe Hamlett left his family homeplace in rural Alton, Va., where his father was a sharecropper. "Joe had no financial resources for college.

He found his way to Eastern Mennonite College because of the values instilled in him by his parents and the support of the college staff," says his wife Jackie Hamlett.

Jackie and Joe, both class of '73, met at EMC in 1970 and married in 1972.At the time of his retirement from the State of Illinois last spring, Joe was bureau chief of home services in the division of vocational rehabilitation services.

Today he consults for the agency from which he retired. Joe has won two state-wide awards, including the 1998 'Spirit of Life Award' from the City of Chicago, for his career-long commitment to working on behalf of people with disabilities.

Before retiring, Joe met elected officials to advocate for his program. "Who would have ever thought the son of a sharecropper would have the opportunity to meet with three of the governors of Illinois and several senators, including Barack Obama?" says Joe.

"We absolutely loved EMC and feel that it was the best educational experience we could have obtained," wrote Jackie in a February e-mail to Crossroads. "It has affected our whole lives and still does everyday."

Jackie teaches adult education and family literacy at the College of Lake County, a community college near their home in Beach Park, Il.

They have one son, Brian, 26, who teaches history and sociology and coaches football and track at a local high school.

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