Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Leadership lived: UIS graduate student works to finish his education following a military deployment

Like most graduate students, Francisco Solano planned to finish his MBA at the University of Illinois Springfield in two years. However, his plans were changed by a military deployment.

A year and a half into his education, while in the middle of a Graduate Public Service (GPSI) internship with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Solano got the opportunity to deploy for a year with the U.S. Army.

“That interrupted my internship as well as my studies,” he said.

A few months before returning to the United States from deployment, Solano reached out to the GPSI Program to discuss how he could finish his education at UIS.

“I contacted the GPSI office and told them that I was still interested in pursuing the internship and completing the program,” he said. “They were nice enough to allow me to come back and finish the program.”

For 43 years, the UIS Graduate Public Service Internship Program has been helping graduate students receive real world experience working in state government.

“(UIS and IDOT) did go out of their way to make everything work so that I could return in time and so that both of our timelines would work,” said Solano.

Solano commissioned as an active duty solider in the U.S. Army in 2010. Upon starting graduate school, he left active duty and joined the Illinois Army National Guard where he currently holds the rank of captain.

Reflecting on his experience at UIS, Solano is glad he made the choice to come to Springfield.

“What I like the best about UIS specifically is that they have the resources of a large university, but they give the attention of a smaller university. The student to professor ratio is excellent,” he said.

Although deploying in a middle of his internship wasn’t his original plan, he’s happy with the way that things have worked out.

“It wasn’t my initial plan, but everything just kept falling in place,” he said. “I’ve kept with it and it’s worked out great for me.”

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