Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Leadership lived: Student takes advantage of diverse opportunities at UIS

If Ivette Ortiz isn’t busy making music, you’ll probably find her mentoring fellow students or helping the wrongfully convicted as an intern at the Illinois Innocence Project.

The University of Illinois Springfield criminal justice major plays in the orchestra, is a Necessary Steps mentor, a member of the Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS) and is a Noble Founder of the UIS Colony of Gamma Phi Omega International Sorority Inc.

She also mentors younger students as part of a new Latino/Hispanic discussion group on campus.

“I wanted to be a part of this because I knew having a mentor is very important for someone,” she said. “I think it definitely helps the students knowing that there’s people here that can help them and relate to their problems.”

Ortiz got involved at the Illinois Innocence Project because she wanted to help with a backlog of cases involving Latino inmates who are possibly facing a wrongful conviction.

“I think what I find rewarding is knowing that these people are getting help when no one else was able to help them,” she said.

At the Project, she reviews cases and presents information to staff members. It is experience she’ll use in her future career in the criminal justice field.

Ortiz, a Carpentersville, Ill. native, says she chose UIS because it was “not too far from home, but it is close enough to go home.” She feels she made the right decision.

“I don’t think I would have gotten the same opportunities at another school. I think that UIS really let me become a leader,” she said.

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