Cristian Biviano, Chicago, is a management major with an international business emphasis. His Illinois Experience has both reflected – and strengthened – his passion for helping under-represented students achieve their dream of going to college. This school year, he's working for Illinois Promise Student Services, where he assists with a mentoring program and blogs about mentorship.
You worked as a Resident Advisor (RA) at Garner and Nugent Halls. How did that shape your Illinois Experience?
It gave me a lot of programming experience and really built my leadership. When I was a sophomore, I had about 40 male residents, and about 15 or 20 were sophomores like me. So we were the same age, but I had to make sure I kept everything professional.
Is that how you developed an interest in Student Affairs?
I was born in Mexico and came to the U.S. when I was two. I was an undocumented student in high school, and in junior year there was a point where I wasn’t sure whether I could go to college because you can’t get financial aid if you’re undocumented. So this is why I’m really passionate about Student Affairs, about helping people get an education.
And you’ve been able to channel your passion into some research projects….
I was a McNair Scholar in the summer of 2012, and I did research on undocumented students in higher education. This past summer I did a similar program at UIC on Latino youths’ conceptualization of citizenship. And I’ll do a McNair project again this summer on Latino students in rural communities.
Thinking back, what made you choose Illinois?
I applied to 15 schools and I got accepted into all of them. I chose Illinois when I came down (to campus). It was such a great campus and program here! I wanted to kind of have the traditional college campus town, going-away-from-your-parents, independent experience. Another big factor was the I-Promise scholarship that I received.
What do you hope to do with your degree and your Illinois Experience?
Ideally, in the end, I'd like to be the director of OMSA (Office of Minority Student Affairs), just because I really like helping other minorities. And with the McNair Scholars Program, I feel like that would be my ideal job.