Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Leadership lived: UIS student may be youngest elected official in Illinois

At the age of 22, Melissa Sanchez decided it was time for a change. Algonquin Township trustees decided to increase property taxes, while giving themselves a raise. She decided to run for office in an effort to keep that from happening.

After a competitive campaign, she was elected as a trustee in February 2013. In the process she became one of the youngest, if not the youngest, elected official in Illinois.

“People don’t really expect me, a college student still, to be an elected official,” said Sanchez. “I saw a problem and I wanted to fix it, so I just followed my heart.”

The senior political science major at the University of Illinois Springfield used what she was taught in the classroom as a motivating force to help her succeed.

“If you want something done, you should try and change it yourself,” she said.

At UIS, Sanchez is secretary of the College Republicans, and a member of the Pre-Law Society, Catholic Student Organization, and the Organization of Latin American Students.

“I love the opportunities that UIS gives me,” said Sanchez. “I’ve had some great experiences with internships and working on campus.”

Following graduation from UIS, Sanchez plans to enter law school and continue her political ambitions by possibly seeking higher offices.

“People have their eye on me and I hope that I don’t disappoint,” she said.

Sanchez has seen many students, such as herself, succeed and grow at UIS. Out of the many leadership lessons she’s learned, there’s one she believes is most important.

“No matter how small or insignificant you think you are, you make a difference,” she said.

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