Richard Irvin (J.D. ’98) grew up poor in public housing with his mother and brother and joined the military to avoid gangs, according to WBBM News Radio.
Yesterday, the 47-year-old was sworn in as the first African American mayor of Illinois’ second largest city, Aurora, where 8 percent of the population is black.
“I used to want to be president of the United States,” Irvin told CBS Chicago. “I knew that I would run for office. I didn’t know what that office would be, how I’d get there. I just knew I would.”
After high school, Irvin joined the military and served in Operation Desert Storm, which he says was a turning point.
“Serving in a war made me who I am today,” he said during the CBS interview. “It started me off on public service.”
During the Gulf War in Saudi Arabia, Irvin said, he wasn’t sure whether he was going to survive Scud missile attacks and he told himself that he would dedicate his life to public service if he did.
He recently served as alderman at large for Aurora, is a former assistant state’s attorney for Kane County and Lake County and owns The Law Office of Richard C. Irvin & Associates in Aurora.
Before getting his law degree at Northern, he earned his B.B.A. summa cum laude at Robert Morris University.