Monday, February 09, 2015

Leadership lived: First-generation college student becomes a leader at UIS

As the first person in his family to attend college, Daniel Aguilar is thrilled about the leadership opportunities available to him at the University of Illinois Springfield.

“What UIS has taught me is to be creative as a leader; to try something new that’s never been done, to try something just out of the box,” he said.

The graduate political science major works on campus in the Diversity Center, is a Necessary Steps mentor, and is a co-advisor for the Organization of Latin American students.

As a graduate assistant at the Diversity Center, he leads the Collegiate Leadership Development Program (CLDP), part of the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute.

“The goal of the overall program is to get Hispanic and Latino students engaged with UIS officials, having conversations which they normally might not have on a day-to-day basis,” said Aguilar.

The CLDP group has met with UIS Chancellor Susan Koch and others leaders on campus. They listen, ask questions, and learn what it’s like to be in a professional meeting.

“In the long run what we hope is the students are able to develop professional skills, knowing how to be in a meeting,” he said.

Aguilar earned his bachelor’s degree in political science at UIS and decided to pursue his master’s degree because of the many graduate assistantship positions available.

“Because of my graduation assistant position, I’ve noticed that I enjoy working with other students,” he said.

After he graduates, Aguilar would like to pursue a career in Student Affairs.

“UIS has taught me that in order to be a leader you need to take the first step, whether that be the right one or the wrong one,” he said. “As a leader, you’re not supposed to be afraid to fail. You’re supposed to have the courage to try things that don’t work.”

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