Chicago Entrepreneur Named Waubonsee “Fab 40”
Sugar Grove — Being a Miami, Fla., native, Steve Duroseau had never seen snow before he came to Waubonsee Community College. Instead of being intimidated by his new surroundings, Duroseau was invigorated and determined to find success. A standout wrestler while at Waubonsee and a burgeoning entrepreneur today, Waubonsee is proud to honor Duroseau as one of the college’s “Fabulous 40” alumni.
A former standout wrestler at the college, Steve Duroseau, seen here in Chicago’s Jackson Park not far from his Hyde Park salon, is one of Waubonsee Community College’s “Fab 40” alumni.
As part of the college’s yearlong 40th anniversary celebration, Waubonsee is honoring 40 alumni and students who embody the mission, vision and values of the college. These individuals represent the diversity of Waubonsee’s students and the college district, as well as the diversity of the college’s mission as a comprehensive community college.
Growing up in Miami, Duroseau was a two-time state qualifier and state runner-up in wrestling. An average student, he did just enough work to get by. His senior year, he connected with Waubonsee wrestling coach Dale Gross, who had coached in Miami. Duroseau and three other Miami graduates came to Waubonsee in 1998.
“It wasn’t a hard transition,” he said. “I was seeking something new and wanted something different for my life.”
That doesn’t mean it didn’t take Duroseau some time to get adjusted to the snow, weather and his new environment.
“It was a little scary at first,” he said. “But I had the determination to conform to my environment and be the best student-wrestler I could be.”
His first winter saw Duroseau battling the flu and a series of infections — going to the hospital five times. He persevered with the help of strong mentoring and assistance from Waubonsee faculty and staff. In particular, financial aid advisor Susan Harmon made a difference in Duroseau’s life.
“She became like a second mother for me,” he said. “She invited me to her home for dinner and made me feel like I was a part of the family.”
Duroseau lived in Aurora with two roommates while he attended Waubonsee. He had two successful seasons with the Chiefs wrestling team including qualifying both years for nationals and being named a two-time Academic All-American. He also won the college’s Vermilion and Gold athletic award as a sophomore.
“While I was there, the team became recognized as a respected program,” he said.
At Waubonsee, Duroseau gained a love of education and found success in that field as well.
“The faculty were so great and I had such a great experience,” he said. “I was able to get the help from the faculty and tutoring when I needed it. It was up to you to take advantage of it, but the program was set up to help you succeed. And I took advantage of all of the resources as a student.”
Outside of the classroom and his athletic responsibilities, Duroseau also served as president of the African Cultural Alliance, treasurer of the Student Senate and a student ambassador for the college.
“I’m most proud of going from an average student to an above-average student,” he said. “In high school I never took school that seriously, but at Waubonsee, I began to understand the importance of academics. I pushed to be the best student I could possibly be.”
After graduating from Waubonsee, Duroseau went on to Northern Illinois University (NIU) to earn a bachelor’s degree in business marketing. He is currently working on his MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management. At NIU, he served as vice president of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, president of the Black Student Union and was a member of the school’s student government.
Leaving NIU with his degree, Duroseau entered the management track with Fortune 500 company Enterprise Rent-A-Car. There he learned about the corporate world, but he had a lifelong entrepreneurial streak and desire to be self-employed. He had worked in the salon industry since his childhood and was an award-winning platform artist, competing in barber and beauty competitions.
“My vision was to develop a professional environment and provide the best service,” he said.
After managing a series of salons, Duroseau started Optimum Hair Cuttery in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood in 2007. He aims to continue to grow his business and open new salons over time.
Duroseau and his wife, Miechelle, live in Evanston with their newborn son, Steve. He is a member of New Life Oakwood Church.