Interview with NDP (BOG) Alumnus Eric Rojas
Alumni Board member Eric Rojas graduated Summa Cum Laude from NEIU in 2005, earning Nontraditional Degree Programs' Board of Governors (now the Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies) BA. One of Chicago's most prominent realtors, Eric was awarded the Chicago Association of Realtors' "Top Producer" Award for seven consecutive years. He excels at using social media to make meaningful connections, and authors the award-winning blog Chicago Real Estate Local. Eric is the father of three children (6, 4 and 18 months) and was elected Parent Representative to Chappel Elementary Local School Council. He is also an active volunteer and fundraiser at St. Matthias School.
I'd taken some community college courses after high school but was never focused or understood the process, benefits or the common journey of getting a degree. When I met my wife and was getting married at 25 years old, I worked in restaurants and I felt something huge was missing. My wife was the top student in her college nursing major. Seeing her accomplishment and hearing how she did it inspired me to focus on a degree.
I was able to get out of my comfort zone at NEIU. I committed to the Honors program which opened doors and scholarships. I committed to my Professors and in return they made great, lasting relationships with me. Committing and making relationships led to many great experiences such as over-seas travel and participating in the 2004 Republican National Convention in NYC on a scholarship. The best insight is to get involved in programs and seek out relationships and scholarships.
I believe in the opportunity (NDP) gives to people with life and work experience. Sometimes I forget how distinct and advantageous that was for me as an incoming student at NEIU. As an active Alumni Advisory Board Member, I get a seat at the table on issues involving NDP and other interests in the University.
I never had a vision of what my life would be. However, I've discovered that success to me is "evolving". As long as I am improving things in my life that will have a positive benefit on my kids, my wife (and myself) then I'm successful. That... and a vacation house in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Adult learners must change. They cannot have the same attitude and habits as they have entering a degree program. You have to commit and have blind faith that your work on your degree will help you grow and be successful. I remember distinctly changing my routines and habits to be successful obtaining a degree.