As an undergraduate student at Illinois State University, Karyn Aguirre ’86 was already headed for fame.

A mass communications major, Aguirre was active on campus as a student leader serving on the executive committee of the Theta Delta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and in leadership roles within the Black Student Union. Aguirre also served on the 1985 Homecoming Committee and the next year was selected for the 1986 Edition of “Who’s Who” Among Students in Colleges and Universities.

Having served as Homecoming co-chair of the Illinois State University Black Colleagues Association (ISUBCA) among other roles, Aguirre was positioned to ascend to the ISUBCA presidency, where she served from 2016 to 2019.

For her “passion to make a difference and commitment to excellence,” Aguirre has been named a 2020 inductee into the Steve and Sandi Adams Legacy Hall of Fame with the ISU Division of Student Affairs.

The award honors Redbirds’ commitment to the community demonstrated as a student and in their professional careers.
A social worker in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system, Aguirre says she’s humbled to receive such a prestigious honor for living out her passion to help Black students.

“What I tried to do at Illinois State, and what I have been doing ever since, has always aligned to provide opportunities for Black students. Our voices need to be heard along with everyone else’s.”

To lift the voices of Black students, the Chicago native has served 16 years in CPS as a social worker, helping to shape and mold lives.

“If Karyn were writing a script for student success, she would communicate to students the importance of volunteerism, academic excellence, student engagement, and servant leadership,’’ Stan Shingles ’82, M.S. ’88, wrote in his nomination of Aguirre for the award. Shingles was inducted into the same hall of fame in 2019.

As part of the award experience, Student Affairs pairs current students with inductees. Aguirre said her selected host was an ISUBCA scholarship recipient, underscoring the impact she’s having on students’ lives.

Having already formed a relationship with the student, Aguirre said her host was special to her. “I knew him so it meant even more that I had a personal connection.”

Read more about Aguirre’s work and contributions.