Graduate student and Director of First Year Experiences at Harold Washington College, Veronica Villanueva joined PCC this Spring as an intern. Learn about her work below.

Role at PCC? Graduate Intern for the College & University Partnerships team.

What is your current role/title?  Director, First-Year Experience at Harold Washington College.

Where did you earn your degree(s)? Types of degree(s) and field(s) of study? DePaul University, Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies

How did your college/university support your success in earning your degree(s)?  Why did you choose NEIU for graduate school?  During my years in undergrad, I was fortunate to have had support from my amazing advisor in the College of Communications, she is the reason why I started my career in higher education. I chose Northeastern Illinois University for their ENLACE Higher Education Leadership Program. This program has provided me with the tools to build on my current career in higher education.

What excites you about equity work at PCC and at your institution? PCC has provided me with professional development with an in-depth lens focused on equity in supporting policies, practices, and systems that increase college completion and eliminate degree completion disparities for low-income, first generation, and students of color in Illinois – particularly Black and Latinx students. At Harold Washington College, I have been part of our Equity Partners Program, in efforts to support the academic growth of Black and Latinx students, the Equity Partners Program (EPP) was launched in summer 2021. The EPP establishes a cohesive cross-system working group with representatives from each college serving in an Equity Partner role. The Equity Partners collaborate with the Equity Team and City Colleges of Chicago’s Continuous Improvement (CI) partner by leading work that builds CI’s capacity in my department and implementing equity initiatives grounded in CI science. This program’s second cohort is focused on First Year Student Success and our sub-theme is student connectedness on-campus.

In your role at HWC, how do you impact equitable outcomes for your students? My role is to provide programming and support to all first-year students. I ensure students have access to in-person, virtual, and hybrid options that work best for their schedules. My goal is for HWC students to have accessible resources virtually or in-person, and support starting their first year, and more during their time at HWC. My work in the Equity Partners Program has also shaped my foundation in first-year student success and student connectedness.

What projects/initiatives are you undertaking in your practicum at PCC? I had the privilege of supporting PCC’s Equity Institute in March.  I am currently working on creating a proposal form and timeline for individuals who are interested in presenting at the next convening, the annual ILEA Summit this November. This proposal form, aligned with a timeline, will support the efforts in obtaining submissions for presentations. Additionally, working to revisit the ILEA’s participant survey to learn about what participating partners would like to see at the upcoming annual ILEA Summit and other programming.