Jerel Kyles
Assistant Family Teacher, Boys Town, Omaha, Nebraska
Jerel Kyles

Passing it on

A native of Mentone, Calif., Jerel was recruited to Northwestern to play football. He enjoyed the small-town lifestyle and was able to build instant connections with the coaching staff and his teammates, giving him a sense of security and a feeling of home away from home. Now, he’s coming alongside at-risk children and families at Boys Town to provide them with the love, support and education they need to succeed.

What are some of your responsibilities at Boys Town?
I work with youth who are troubled. My degree has helped me to better understand them and know you can’t be quick to judge somebody based on the bad decisions they’ve made. And you can’t be upset with somebody if you don’t know their whole story. There is a reason why people are the way that they are. I take my time to figure out what has led them down the path they have taken. I do my best to help them get on a more positive track.

What inspired you to major in sociology?
When I started at Northwestern I was majoring in computer science, but that did not go well. During my freshman year, I took an intro to sociology class with Dr. Monsma and I fell in love. Finding out why people do what they do just intrigued me, and I ended up changing my major.

What do you appreciate most about the sociology department?
The thing I loved most is that they always believed in me and were an encouragement to me. For a little while, I did not truly believe I could be successful at Northwestern because of my early failures, but the sociology professors continued to encourage me and helped me to reach my full potential.

How has studying sociology impacted your faith?
Sociology helped me to be more aware of my faith. It helped me to show forgiveness toward others and to not be so quick to judge them. People are a product of their environment. We can't blame them for the bad decisions they make because they have been taught that by their experiences. As a society, it is our job to try to help the people who are lost to get back on the right track so they can be positive contributors.