Posted by Stephanie Kollm on June 23, 2014
“I came to AU because they offered me what other colleges couldn’t—a chance to connect community and campus while I earned my degree,” says criminal justice and Spanish major Ignacio “Nacho” Cervantes, AU ’14. And for Cervantes, the combination of campus and community is what motivated him throughout his four years. With his family nearby in Aurora, Cervantes was looking for a place where he could earn an affordable degree and maintain his close-knit ties to the community where he grew up. But, he was also looking for a place where he could expand his perspectives, gain new insights and become an integral member of a new community. At Aurora University, Cervantes found just that, and he dove in to campus life with gusto.
Cervantes immediately joined the Latin American Student Organization (LASO), where he developed leadership skills and fostered his desire to give back to both city and campus. He was integral in bringing a chapter of Latino fraternity Phi Iota Alpha to campus, and took on executive positions within LASO in his first years.
“I followed my parents’ dream for my sister and I to graduate from college, but it quickly became my dream as well as I became immersed in the AU campus,” Cervantes said. “I learned to seize all of the opportunities that were presented to me.”
In 2011, Cervantes took on a whole new level of community involvement. He became the youngest individual ever to serve on the East Aurora School District 131 Board.
“The East Aurora School District gave so much to my education that I wanted to return the favor and help current students,” said Cervantes. “I found that I could apply the things I was learning at AU to my position, and the knowledge I gained from other board members could be applied to my studies.”
In this position, Cervantes served as co-chair of a new student-enrichment committee. He worked with school officials to bring an involvement fair to East Aurora High School with the goal of getting students involved in the life of the school, helped find funding for after school activities and brought a variety of speakers to the schools through his connections to AU and LASO. Throughout his two-year tenure on the board, Cervantes primary focus was on ensuring that East Aurora students had opportunities to learn and grow outside the classroom as well as in.
This spring, Cervantes was honored with the Ethel Tapper Humanities award at Honors Convocation 2014. The award is given to a senior majoring in one of the humanities disciplines who demonstrated outstanding academic and creative achievement during their academic career at AU. The award is named in honor of Dr. Ethel Tapper, who taught mathematics, served as a librarian and library director and was was an English professor and English department chair from 1937to 1970.
Now, armed with his AU education and a wealth of experiences in leadership roles, Cervantes is looking for his next opportunity to get involved. He hopes to take on a role in law enforcement that allows him to put his community ties to use, for the betterment of his hometown.