Lisle, Illinois ~ In just four years after graduating from Benedictine, Tyler Marcum, C13, Political Science, has put his degree into action.
He has helped students who struggle with homelessness to continue their education, was appointed to serve on a statewide taskforce addressing the heroin epidemic and has served on the board of education for a local school district.
This past year, he became one of the youngest candidates elected to the 26-member Will County Board.
“I have always wanted to serve my community,” Marcum said. “I started in politics when I was a kid helping my father (the late Joliet Park Board President Glen Marcum) and other local candidates run for office.
“Political Science was a natural fit for me,” he added. “I found the human aspect of politics to be the most interesting, studying why people and governments do what they do and how their actions influence the actions of others.”
At Benedictine, Marcum found the support and attentiveness of the Political Science faculty to be a great asset as he furthered his interests in the subject.
“They helped me achieve at a higher level than I thought was possible for myself, which has carried over to my professional career,” he said.
Outside of his studies, Marcum was an offensive lineman on BenU’s football team and played the trombone and tuba in the University’s concert, jazz and pep bands. These extracurricular activities played a critical role in his development and helped him form lasting relationships.
“Any band kid can tell you there is a special bond between bandmates,” Marcum said. “In fact, my wife Beth (Dyer), C13, and I met in jazz band in Scholl Hall. We both played trombone and the third trombone player, Sami Khan, C12, was an usher at our wedding.”
To further develop into a leader and expand his interests in politics, Marcum took advantage of the many programs and speaking engagements offered through the Center for Civic Leadership (CCL), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging civil and open dialogue across political boundaries.
As a CCL Public Service Fellow, he planned and organized CCL events such as Youth Government Day and was able to meet Fr. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina’s Parish on Chicago’s South Side, current MSNBC political analyst and former chair of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele, Democratic strategist David Axelrod and former NBA player and recovering heroin addict Chris Herren.
“Chris Herren was an impressive speaker,” Marcum said. “I and other Public Service Fellows were able to talk to him about what we could do to help our generation avoid drug use. This conversation came back to help me when I was appointed by Gov. Pat Quinn to serve on the Young Adult Heroin Task Force. His insights gave me the confidence to speak up when issues arose.”
One of the most pivotal things Marcum learned through the CCL is how to be a values-based leader by listening and working with people of different political ideologies.
“The CCL helped reinforce the idea that no matter someone’s political affiliation, we all want to make our communities better places to live,” Marcum said. “Even when there is political dissension, it is important for all of us to remember the greater good.”
One month prior to graduation, Marcum was elected to serve on the board of education for Joliet Township High School District 204. A few months later, he was hired as an assistant homeless liaison for the Will County Regional Office of Education, serving 14,000 students who fit the definition of homelessness.
After three years on the board of education, a retiring Will County Board member asked Marcum to run for his vacant seat.
“After talking with my family and some key supporters, I decided to run,” Marcum said. “Over the course of the campaign, I raised and spent nearly $20,000 and my volunteers and I knocked on more than 15,000 doors.”
As a newly seated board member, Marcum admits he still needs some time to develop a more thorough understanding of all the issues affecting Will County and its 685,000 residents.
His rookie status doesn’t keep him from engaging in debate, however.
“Being the youngest member of the board by more than 10 years gives me the unique privilege of speaking for my entire generation,” Marcum said. “We always hear politicians talk about the state they want to leave the country in for their children, and my age provides me with the opportunity to tell my colleagues how my generation thinks and feels about certain issues.
“The Benedictine values are a great beacon for managing tough decisions,” he added. “‘The Rule of St. Benedict’ states that we should treat each stranger as Christ, and when you are dealing with a wide variety of people, it is important to be fair and welcoming to everyone. Politicians have this responsibility and my experience at Benedictine has helped reinforce this principle.”
Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 9,000 students in 56 undergraduate and 21 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the sixth consecutive year in 2016. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org). For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ben.edu.