Northeastern Illinois University student Isabel Vargas has been awarded the national Student Staff Member of the Year Award by American Campus Communities (ACC).
With more than 200 student properties, ACC is the largest developer, owner and manager of high-quality student housing communities in the United States. The company hires thousands of student staff members each year.
Vargas was one of six RAs at The Nest, Northeastern’s student housing facility, before a recent promotion to assistant resident director. She has been a staff member since 2016, when the building opened.
“Isabel has demonstrated great leadership both among residents and co-workers,” said Sara Garcia, ACC’s regional manager. “She is often our go-to RA to help answer questions or if we need an extra hand. Her drive to succeed and dedication to her residents has greatly contributed to The Nest community.”
Vargas, who attended Gordon Technical High School (now known as DePaul College Prep), is a Biology major in her senior year at Northeastern. She plans to graduate in May 2019 and pursue a master’s degree to become a physician’s assistant. She came to Northeastern because of its affordability, but has found the University to be welcoming.
“I think it’s really diverse,” Vargas said of Northeastern. “I was really surprised at how friendly people were here. That’s something I was scared about when transitioning from high school to college. I felt like I wouldn’t have anyone to talk to, to connect with, but there’s a lot of spaces on campus where you can do that.”
Though the balance between school and work can sometimes be a challenge for Vargas, she appreciates Northeastern’s small class sizes, and living at The Nest has brought her closer to the University community. She has found that being an RA has helped her in ways she didn’t expect.
“It’s really rewarding,” Vargas said. “I’ve definitely grown academically, in my personal life, and professionally since I started the job. I feel like I’m able to manage my time better, communicate with others, and I feel like it’s prepared me for when I leave Northeastern to have a job somewhere else.”