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The ribbon cutting of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning.

The ribbon cutting of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning. Blair Fernandez is second from the right.

Student’s involvement ignites passion for civic engagement and Student Affairs

The Division of Student Affairs offers numerous opportunities for students to get involved at Illinois State. Many students, like senior Blair Fernandez, choose to participate across many different areas of the division.

Fernandez transferred to Illinois State as a sophomore, and initially became familiar with Student Affairs through her employment at the InfoCentre in the Bone Student Center. “By being at the desk, I would interact with others from the division and they would tell me about all of the wonderful opportunities it has to offer,” she said.

Since then, Fernandez has not only been promoted to a student manager position at the InfoCentre, but also serves at the president of the Advocacy and Leadership Council for Event Management, Dining, and Hospitality (EMDH). She is also a participant of the ISULeads Leadership Certificate Program and a member of the University Hearing Panel. In previous years, Fernandez served as a Welcome Week intern, a Body Project facilitator, and an Alternative Spring Break trip leader.

“The staff here really make you feel at home. (They) are passionate and put students first. They make me feel like more than just a number.”

Additionally, Fernandez utilizes several services throughout the division such as stopping by the Career Center to have her resume reviewed and visiting the Dean on Duty for their support when she needed a little extra assistance and guidance. “The staff here really make you feel at home,” Fernandez said. “(They) are passionate and put students first. They make me feel like more than just a number.”

Staff from across the division have even served as individual role models for Fernandez. While she credits her success to many staff members, specifically, Associate Dean of Students Jill Benson has been very influential. “She has helped me since I stepped foot onto this campus,” Fernandez said. “When I leave and move onto the next step of my life, I wish to be as kind and intelligent as she is. I want to be what she has been for me, to other students.”

“My experiences have made me a better citizen in my community. I am prepared to leave ISU and make the world a better place.”

Because of the relationships she has formed and the opportunities she has experienced, Fernandez hopes to pursue a career in Student Affairs. She shares that her experiences in the division have helped her grow and develop as a leader. Through ISULeads, Fernandez took a deep dive into leadership philosophy and explore her own leadership journey. Further, she learned to become an active citizen in her community, fostering a strong passion for civic engagement.

Fernandez explains the importance of students understanding that they are not only members of the Illinois State community, but also residents of the Town of Normal. She encourages students to become civically involved through the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, and learn more about the communities around them, as those are the areas that this generation can most greatly impact. “My experiences have made me a better citizen in my community. I am prepared to leave ISU and make the world a better place.”

Thank you, Blair, for your commitment and passion to the Division of Student Affairs and Illinois State!

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