Spartan Spotlight: Ignacio Cervantes, Junior Criminal Justice Major

Ignacio Cervantes

Cervantes, second from left, works with LASO members at the Power Up! Youth Leadership Conference that took place at Aurora University on October 19, 2012.

Ignacio “Nacho” Cervantes, AU ’14, grew up being inspired by his parents. Originally from Mexico, they came to the United States to provide their children with better opportunities. They worked hard and always encouraged him to follow his dreams, which he never forgets as he moves through life and focuses on his goals.

“My parents have always wanted me to succeed,” says Cervantes. “Their struggles in Mexico and the United States have made me realize that nothing is easy in this world and you have to work really hard to obtain what you want. They have motivated me to work hard in school and never give up on my goals because they never gave up on their goals of giving my sister and me a better education.”

Cervantes is studying criminal justice at Aurora University and serves as the president of the Latin American Student Organization (LASO), which provides opportunities for students to develop leadership skills and become active in their community.

On Thursday, January 31, he was recognized for his achievements to the Aurora community as a recipient of the 2013 Phenomenal Men of the Year Awards from Boys II Men, an Aurora-based organization that promotes the life-transforming power of education, discipline and service to young black and Latino men.

“The son of immigrant parents, Nacho readily admits that his parents have taught him and his sister the value of work in academics and extracurricular activities,” said Eva Serrano, Assistant Professor of Foreign Languages and faculty advisor for LASO. “Self-accountability is a value that drives Nacho to uphold his commitments as a student and leader.”

As president of LASO, Cervantes was recently invited to be the official welcome speaker for the Health and Nutrition Breakfast at the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute’s 31st National Conference on Saturday, February 16 in Chicago. As the largest Hispanic leadership conference in the nation, the event attracts 2,000-3,000 participants including representatives from more than 100 colleges and universities.

Cervantes will attend the conference along with 35-40 members of LASO, where they hope to network with other individuals, such as the professionals in their respective careers and other college students.

“LASO members expect to learn a lot at this conference and stay connected with the individuals we meet. Our members see the importance of having an education and going to college when they attend these types of events,” said Cervantes.

These days Cervantes successfully balances a lot as he also is an active board of education member for East Aurora School District 131.  As the youngest board member in the district’s history, he hopes to offer a unique perspective.

“I hope to be a voice for the students to bring more programs that they can relate to and have them experience life outside of Aurora by attending conferences and getting to meet new people,” said Cervantes. “I want to advocate for the things that they need.”

A solid work-ethic is non-negotiable in the Cervantes’ family, and this shows through in Cervantes’ commitment to every project he is involved in. As the spring semester continues, he hopes to create and promote cultural awareness and encourage members of his organizations to become outstanding leaders in the Aurora community. As for him, Cervantes aims to, “finish the school year strong and keep organized in all my organizations, while keeping my grades up.”