KANKAKEE – Kankakee Community College sophomore Enrique Velazquez will represent all Illinois students as the student representative for the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB).
“Enrique has always exhibited the charisma and empathy that are characteristics of impactful leaders, and now he is finding his voice as a student leader,” said KCC President Mike Boyd. “Enrique has a unique insight on the community college student experience and is able to craft his persuasive appeals with grace and compassion. He is a model representative of KCC and our entire community at the state level.”
Velazquez’s one-year term is from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021. As ICCB representative, Velazquez shares student views and communicates to other students the plans and the perspectives of ICCB board members.
“Being involved is crucial,” Velazquez said. “The responsibility of communicating student opinions on different topics discussed at ICCB is one to be taken seriously.”
“As the ICCB representative, he helps KCC by establishing a line of communication from KCC to the ICCB as well as finding different ways to improve KCC as a whole,” said Ariana Ramirez, a KCC sophomore and student representative to the board of trustees. “Enrique is a student leader. He demonstrates honest, encouraging, great communication skills. He is very passionate in things he believes in and is willing to overcome any obstacles.”
Velazquez has a strong commitment to representing and serving the student body of KCC at both the local and state levels, said Rodney Lipscomb, KCC coordinator of student activities.
Velazquez also is vice president of the college’s Student Advisory Council, which represents the interests of students, provides support to student organizations, and plays a large role in student programs and events.
“He is always one of the first to volunteer for college and community events that help support KCC and the local community,” Lipscomb said, citing Velazquez’s involvement in a project to raise awareness of victims of sexual assault and relationship violence.
“Enrique is a leader, but his true leadership characteristic that always comes to mind is his kindness,” said Kathryn Wachtor, KCC’s director of enrollment services. “He had this keen knack for welcoming people and being able to talk to just about anyone.”
Velazquez is originally from Momence, and now lives in Grant Park. He graduated from high school in 2016.
After a few semesters at KCC, Velazquez went to work for a metal fabrication plant. He returned to KCC in the summer of 2019, and planned to go into computer science. He saw KCC as a “stepping stone.”
“I didn’t really see it as a place of opportunity, (but) my perspective has changed,” he said.
Velazquez discovered a passion for helping other students and prospective students while serving as a student employee in the college’s recruitment office.
“It’s a sense of community,” Velazquez said. “Kankakee Community College has introduced me into what it means to work in education and just how important it is to myself and how impactful it can be on the lives of others. I think that is what I’ve learned working at Student Affairs and Recruitment. We have fantastic counselors here, so I definitely remember working closely with them and just having a great time and just really respecting the impact that they can have on students.”
Velazquez plans to make this passion into a career.
“Working here at student affairs and recruitment, I ended up wanting to be involved with college life and assisting students,” he said.
Once Velazquez finishes a transfer degree at KCC in Spring 2021, he plans to complete a bachelor’s degree in sociology at Northern Illinois University then work toward becoming a college adviser.
“The ultimate goal of my education is to arrive at a point to be working for and facilitating the success of college students, and making a meaningful impact on the lives of young adults,” Velazquez said. “I believe it is the responsibility of educators to provide counsel and guidance that would put college students on the path of self-discovery and success.”
“Enrique is quick-to-learn and charismatic,” said Michelle Argento, KCC’s coordinator of recruitment services. “He asks thoughtful questions and is never afraid to make his ideas known. I know that no matter where his path takes him, he will be able to make an impactful difference.”