Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Leadership lived: Opportunities at UIS inspire student’s career choice

When senior political science major Dan Garcia came to the University of Illinois Springfield he knew he wanted to get involved. Four years later, he’s learned a few things about leadership.

“Leadership opportunities don’t fall into your lap. You have to go out there and fight for it, you have to get it. In that process, you find you develop even more as a leader,” said Garcia.

Garcia’s passion has helped him land jobs on campus as a Student Ambassador in the Admissions Office and as a Summer Orientation Leader for the Office of New Student Orientation and Parent Relations.

“I love it so much; this is actually what I want to do when I graduate,” said Garcia. “I want to continue on into higher education, particularly admissions.”

As a Student Ambassador, Garcia is often the first face that future UIS students meet. He takes applicants and their parents on tours of campus and shares his personal experiences.

“I like connecting with students and their parents on a personal level. One of my ways to break some of the awkward ice in the beginning is to make some jokes, make them smile, and make them laugh. I like to make them feel comfortable here,” said Garcia.

Garcia says UIS is special because students can tailor leadership opportunities to fit their own interests. For example, his interest in higher education led to an internship with the UIS Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.

“I think there’s an overabundance of leadership opportunities at UIS. I find that there are so many opportunities that a lot of students might not even know,” said Garcia.

In addition to his work in admissions, Garcia volunteers as a senior peer mentor in the UIS Capital Scholars Honors Program where he’s developed, organized, and implemented programming designed to help first-year students.

He also volunteers with the Necessary Steps program, mentoring first-year, first-generation students as they face the challenging transition to college. Garcia is the treasurer for the Greek Life Advisory Board and Senior Treasurer for Habitat for Humanity at UIS among other volunteer activities.

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