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Working hard, dreaming big

Lorena Chica is a history major and gender studies and sociology double minor. Photo via bradley.edu.

Among FUSE posters and stacks of books about Latin American history, Lorena Chica works toward her degree.

Chica, a senior history major with women and gender studies and sociology double minors, has been studying part-time at Bradley and working full-time in the interactive media department.

Not only does Chica work at Bradley Monday through Friday, she also works at Chili’s in East Peoria 20 hours a week and takes six credits at Illinois Central College and tutors a high school student in Spanish.

“It’s pretty crazy,” Chica said. “There’s so much more that I would like to do but I just really don’t have time … I’m constantly going from one thing to another.”

Chica was a student at Bradley in 2011, but with the support from her family she returned to finish her degree. She’s 26 years old, making her a non-traditional student.

She expects to graduate in May and plans to continue her studies at Bradley by applying to the non-profit leadership masters program. After that, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in history with a focus in Latin American history and U.S. borderlands.

“I think it’s important, especially when you’re trying to navigate predominately white spaces, it’s hard to know where you came from,” Chica said.

Chica’s parents came to America from El Salvador and became citizens under President Reagan’s amnesty law. She is doing her own research study to learn more about Salvadoran history.

While at Bradley, she wants to make sure Latin American students feel comfortable on campus. Chica said she wants to see a welcoming environment and give students the opportunity to talk with someone they feel comfortable within the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI).

“I think that maybe having advisers through that ODI office would be great,” Chica said. “Especially because a lot of students don’t feel comfortable going to their own adviser, so we can have an alternative thing from that office.”

She said she has several academic role models working at Bradley, including executive director of ODI Norris Chase.

“I really like doing diversity work, so that’s really my end goal, wanting to do diversity work like he does,” she said. “I look up to what he’s doing.”

Even though she has a busy schedule, Chica is there for students when they need advice.

Sophie Orlet, a sophomore animation major, said Chica is a good resource in the interactive media department.

“She’s the first person you can go to if you’re a student,” Orlet said. “Because she has roughly the same authority as the higher ups, but she’s still a student, so you feel more comfortable talking to her than the adults in the department, especially if the issue isn’t too serious.”

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