‘A Cornerstone of Hope’

Public service—and Chicago—run in Myetie Hamilton’s blood. At 48, Hamilton (M.P.A. ’03) serves as vice president and executive director of City Year Chicago and as board president of the Chicago Park District. Rewind to her childhood, and you’ll find the first-born daughter of a teenage mother growing up in the South Side Chicago neighborhood of South Shore.

Hamilton was a child who found inspiration in her family: in her young mother’s resilience and determination; in her grandmother, who she says embodied “elegance, grace, and strength”; and in her grandfather, whose steps Hamilton would ultimately follow.

“I was fortunate to have my first mentor in my home, and that was my grandfather,” she says. “My grandfather was a service man, a man of the people. He was a courageous advocate. When I was a young girl, I experienced my grandfather as a fierce and compassionate leader in his role as the vice president of a labor union for health care workers. My grandfather had an impeccable work ethic. It wasn’t as much what he said, but what he modeled. He was one of the most brilliant people I knew.”

Among his accomplishments, Hamilton’s grandfather, James W. Mykes, founded Provident Foundation, a nonprofit that “helps under-resourced youth of color achieve their dreams of becoming medical practitioners,” Hamilton says. After he passed away in 2012, Hamilton became a board member and board chair of the organization, a position she still holds.

The oldest of four children, Hamilton attended college at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University, where she majored in business, in part, because she first perceived her grandfather as a businessman. Eventually, she recognized that his work was truly in service to others, and she sought to emulate his commitment to excellence as well.

“I was taught that what matters is what you do when no one’s looking,” Hamilton says. “I think of it as how I show up; I think it’s representative of who I am. No matter what I’m doing I try to give it my all, my 150 percent.”

This story was featured in the summer 2022 issue of Illinois Tech Magazine. You can read the full story on the Illinois Tech Magazine website