She holds the distinction of being among the first generation of her family to earn a college diploma. But rest assured, the more future generations hear Alexandra Turcios‘ story, the less likely it is that she'll be the last.
“UIUC holds a special place in my heart. It's the institution that made me a first-generation college graduate. I was also named a Fulbright Scholar that sent me across the ocean to teach English in Indonesia,” says the 2016 political science grad, founder of Built-in Detroit, an initiative to support the international growth of small businesses in Michigan's largest city.
"The support system and relationships cultivated on campus have helped connect me with opportunities and people that wouldn't be available elsewhere. I would like to thank Dr. (Joseph) Hinchliffe, director of undergraduate studies, and my political science advisor for affording me unique opportunities and recommending me for an internship with the first Latina lieutenant governor in the nation.
"There are countless other professors and advisors that empowered me and who remain in contact with me with years after graduating. Each of them played pivotal roles in my story," says Turcios, professional development chair for the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement.
“Whenever I meet a fellow Illini at a networking event in Chicago or Detroit — or even around the world as I travel — there is an instant connection that brings us back to the days on-campus," she says.
“We reminisce about the caliber of professors or our favorite campus bars. It always leads us to talk about our go-to slice from the after-hours pizza spot Antonio's. It's something that you can't replicate and helps to foster the strong UIUC pride that carries us forward in our career.”