2021 President's Medallion Winner: Jacqueline Plascencia-Perez
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Major: Liberal Arts and Humanities
Expected date of graduation: 2022
As a first-generation college student, Jacqueline Plascencia-Perez knew she wanted to make the most of her experience at Arrupe College. She took a chance and joined student government; now, she is flourishing as student body president, leading by example both in-person and online.
Jacqueline also participated in Arrupe’s Emerging Leaders program and is always eager to engage in the community through service or other pop-up events.
Here, Jacqueline discusses how Loyola’s Jesuit mission has influenced her leadership style and what she hopes to do after her time at Arrupe.
Are you involved in any community service or extracurricular activities? What have those experiences meant to you?
When I started at Arrupe, I knew that I wanted to be involved in school but didn't know how. So I joined student government. My first year, I was a senator, and then I worked my way up to student body president. Once I saw that all the people who mentored me throughout the year were leaving, graduating, or transferring, it made me realize that I had to step up and make sure the incoming class felt as supported and connected as I did, even though we were online.
Being student body president has definitely taught me patience, how to communicate, and leadership skills. Over this past year, I had to learn how to be a leader online. Now that we're in-person, I know that played a big role in helping me get out of my comfort zone because I was always this reserved person in high school. Once I got into college and took on a big role, it pushed me out of that. Being student body president is making me grow as a person and as a leader.
What does Loyola’s Jesuit mission mean to you? How has it influenced your experience as a student?
When I have to bring this up to students, I say the Jesuit mission means being a good person overall and caring for your surroundings and the people around you. I think the biggest way this has played a role in my experience is through being president of student government. I want people to realize that my main goal is not to benefit only myself but other students and students who come after me. I know that my goal for student government is to help create an environment where students feel comfortable engaging. I want to build up that community feeling. Every time I think about an initiative or an action I take on, the Jesuit mission is always on my mind. It's been my guide through the year.
What are you planning to do with your degree? How has Loyola prepared you for your future goals?
My biggest goal after college is to continue in the educational field. I do wish to become an educator after my time at Loyola and Arrupe. My main goal is to help break down the barriers between minority students and undocumented students like myself. I want to open up more opportunities for all of us, making sure that they all know what resources are available to them.
I think Loyola helped me get out of my comfort zone. It has helped me reach out to people who are also as passionate about education and students as myself. And it has given me the best support I could ask for and the best resources that I can use in the future. Loyola’s Jesuit mission has stayed in me since it was introduced to me. And my goal is to continue it and continue at Loyola.