Year in School: Senior
Hometown: Waukegan, IL
Before I started my first semester at NIU, I attended a 2-day orientation. I met so many students and NIU faculty. One of the guest speakers caught my attention. She talked about the minority population, especially Latinos, and was emphasizing the importance of continuing education beyond a Bachelor’s. She gave us statistics on the retention rate of Latino students who attend and graduate from high school, 2-year college, 4-year university, and what type of degree they receive (bachelor’s, master’s, PhD). Her story inspired me and motivated me to break barriers as a Latino student. After her speech, I approached her and introduced myself. I found out her name was Dr. Emily Prieto and she was the Director of Latino Resource Center (LRC) at NIU. She is currently not in NIU anymore, but we still try to keep in touch. She has impacted my life at NIU as a student. She introduced me to many opportunities and pushed me to do more and better things as an undergrad that could potentially help me for grad school.
Because of her I was in the Research Rookies program which then lead me to join the Undergraduate Research Assistantships Program. With research as part of my background, I was able to present my research studies in conferences and join the SACNAS (Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science) team, another organization that Dr. Prieto told me about. I also got involved in the Honors program, which is awesome. There are many more things that Dr. Prieto has done for me and I can’t thank her enough. I truly miss her!
I wanted to help prospective students the way I was helped by my mentors. It can be hard when you’re a first-generation student and you have to figure out everything on your own because no one that you know has been in the same shoes as you. I did not want other students to struggle or feel like they are alone. So I joined a program from the LRC called M.A.S. Mentoring program. I was paired up with a freshman student who had a health-related major. The way I helped my mentee was by asking her what were her interests, goals and future career goals. She expressed to me that she wanted to get more involved on campus. I gave her a list of health-related organizations that were on campus and other programs that she might be interested in. If she ever needed a friend to talk to or any questions about relating to academics I was here for her. She also became one of my good friends at NIU–it’s been 4 years now and we still keep in contact. You do make life-long friends and build relationships with people while attending college. It is a great way to help each other and become better people.
I am hoping to build that relationship with my mentor from the Student-Alumni program. I am not sure if my mentor is a nurse or what she does for a living, but I hope she could guide me or provide any advice about anything that I may need. I can’t wait to meet her and have another role-model in my life. I am excited to see where we go on this journey.