Pursuit of the highest education
John Gomez does not settle and will not settle—even after he earns his bachelor’s degree from Northeastern Illinois University. “Ever since I was little, the one thing I have always wanted to do—which I know is kind of odd—is that I’ve always wanted to go to college,” said Gomez, who naturally is a member of the University Honors Program. “I really value education. I think it’s so important for people to be educated—not necessarily just to get a job but just to better yourself.”
A career path to smile about
If you ask Wanda Nguyen about her career plans, she does not hesitate with her answer: She will graduate from Northeastern Illinois University, attend dental school and eventually become an orthodontist, she says. And then she smiles. Nguyen hasn’t always been so quick to smile. As a child, she was teased and bullied by her classmates for having crooked teeth. She became shy and withdrawn. But after receiving orthodontic treatment at 21, Nguyen’s self-confidence skyrocketed.
A mission for education
Oscar Ramírez never had a Latino teacher growing up. Not in grade school, not in middle school and not in high school. Nunca. That all changed when Ramírez, the son of Guatemalan immigrants, enrolled at Northeastern Illinois University. “I suddenly had Latino teachers,” Ramírez said. “I would visit my professors during office hours and talk to them. They opened my mind and made me believe I can do anything.”
Destined to Empower Others
In May of 2014, Claudia Hernandez earned her bachelor’s degree in social work from Northeastern Illinois University. It was the first major step in realizing her lifelong goal of becoming a social worker—a goal born from tragedy. When she was just seven years old, Claudia’s father passed away unexpectedly. “My father’s death made me a sensitive child,” Hernandez said. “I remember crying in bed every night and out of nowhere in my second-grade class. For that reason I was referred to the school social worker. Her help during that time motivated me to become a social worker.”