Student Testimonials

Daiana Quiroga-Nevarez | Credential Analyst/Degree Auditor at Morton College

Daiana Quiroga-Nevarez

Why did you apply to the M.Ed. Urban Higher Ed program?

In 2019, I was extremely excited to learn that the UIC College of Education was going to offer a unique program tailored to the needs of urban higher learning institutions. It took eight years after completing my undergraduate degree to return to school. When I was admitted to the MEd program, I felt an unbelievable sense of accomplishment that I had not felt in years. I regained my identity as a lifelong learner. The program has exceeded my expectations, and I am extremely proud to be part of its inaugural class.

How has the program contributed to your personal and professional development?

I learned the importance of using data-driven analysis to propel the mission of an organization forward, which is a critical skill for today’s higher education leaders. Simultaneously, I learned the principles of governance and administration and how integral each component is when working towards the mutual goal of student success. Our classes also prompt us to analyze our profession and to identify our strengths as future administrators. This form of reflection will keep me grounded as I grow to become a stronger leader and student advocate.

How has the program influenced the way you approach your work?

Ensuring that students meet their educational goals and graduate are key components of my position. In our Institutional Research course, I learned to use datasets to interpret graduation rates at public 2-year institutions in Illinois and provided possible methods to increase those rates. I plan to utilize these empirically sound practices in my current role and as I grow professionally.

Cynthia Rosales | Student Assistance Coordinator, Office of the Dean of Students at UIC

Cynthia Rosales

Why did you apply to the M.Ed. Urban Higher Ed program?

UIC’s Urban Higher Ed program was at the top of my list because it was the only program of its kind in the country. Having experienced working at an Urban institution, I was looking forward to continuing my work with this population of students. The Urban Higher Ed program at UIC seemed a perfect fit for me at the time and I am glad I made this choice!

How has the program contributed to your personal and professional development?

The courses I have taken in this program further developed my understanding of what it means to be a leader in Higher Education. I have the tools and knowledge to be comfortable leading a discussion or addressing a room.  I feel confident in my ability to take on more leadership positions, in part, because of this program. With the knowledge I have gained from this program, I feel confident in my ability to push forward in this field and make a difference

How has the program influenced the way you approach your work?

Currently, I work in the Office of the Dean of Students (DOS) – Student Affairs as the Student Assistance Coordinator. In this role, I report directly to the Associate Dean of Students and provide a case management approach of assistance to students experiencing challenges as they continue their education at UIC. I also coordinate the efforts & initiatives for the U&I Care Network in the DOS office. I am certified as the office’s confidential resource for students experiencing acts of sexual assault, harassment, and/or stalking. Many of the courses I have taken in this program have challenged and increased my understanding of policy and how it can directly and indirectly affect every person at an institution.

Adrian Villarreal | Transition Coach for the L@S GANAS Program at UIC

Adrian Villarreal

Why did you apply to the M.Ed. Urban Higher Ed program?

I wanted to learn how to become a pioneer and a leader for developing policies or programs in the classroom that I can continue to implement at the institution for underrepresented students in my hometown of Chicago. The core courses allowed me to practice and contribute these educational skills to real-life scenarios inside and outside the classroom.

How has the program contributed to your personal and professional development?

As a 1st-generation college graduate and urban student, this program has served as a reminder and helped me recognize the systemic barriers that still exist while on the path to higher education. Because of this program I was able to grow my professional and personal network across UIC and other higher education institutions. It also allowed me to identify and compare successful initiatives at similar urban universities that could possibly be brought to UIC.

How has the program influenced the way you approach your work?

As a Transition Coach with the UIC L@S GANAS Program, I holistically support urban, underrepresented students from Latinx communities seeking STEM academic programs. The M.Ed. in Urban Higher Ed program has taught me how to think outside the box in order to develop culturally responsive and innovative strategies to better assist UIC students. The M.Ed. program has also helped me improve my leadership skills to support the growth of L@S GANAS and serve as a stronger advocate for new students transitioning to UIC.

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