Meet student leader, Marisol Villasenor. She is a junior majoring in psychology with a concentration in human services. She was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, specifically in Little Village and the Brighton Park areas. Marisol is very passionate about her Mexican-American heritage.
What leadership roles do you hold, and what student organizations are you involved in?
I had the opportunity to serve as a Students Together Are Reaching Success (STARS) peer mentor through the Office of Multicultural Student Success for the 2015-2016 Academic Year. I guided a group of first-year students, who were assigned to be my mentees because they fell in one or more of the following categories: first-generation college student, low-income student and/or student of color.
It was an amazing opportunity; not only did I relate to them, but we are building a cycle of helping. The STARS program was one I was involved with as a freshman at DePaul, and my mentor is one of the key factors for my success my first year. I was a mentee and then I became a mentor. One of my mentees is now serving as a mentor, as well, and I could not be more proud.
What is your most memorable experience at DePaul?
By far a trip that is very memorable is all thanks to the Office of Multicultural Student Success. I participated in the Education and Development Grant for Employability (EDGE) program, coordinated by Ms. Jade Perry from the office, and she recommended that I go on a free service immersion trip to New Orleans.
I did not know any other students at DePaul, since I was still getting adjusted to the transition from high school to a university. But I wanted to take a chance and experience what it meant to be a Vincentian student. So I took advantage of the opportunity to go to New Orleans and work with an organization called the St. Bernard's Project. We shared responsibilities in building a home that will house a family who lost their home during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 . New Orleanians who lived through Hurricane Katrina spoke to us, shared their stories and made it clear how our presence and our desire to help them were immensely appreciated.
I will never forget when one of the residents told us, "I came back to New Orleans after the hurricane to find that I had the doorsteps of my house…but no house." Their faces of hope, and their desire to prevail despite all odds were inspirational, to say the least. What followed our group after working there for three days was a time of reflection. We opened up to each other and discussed why – after 10 years since the hurricane – many residents still did not have a place to call home.
It was definitely a wakeup call--to not only be grateful, but to be selfless. Even if the way you provide help to others does not seem like enough for you, the individuals receiving the help are extremely appreciative. Our actions let them know that we cared and it sparked conversations with others on campus when we returned and shared what we experienced.
I went on this service trip knowing no one. They were all strangers to me. We had one common goal and that was to provide service, to share, to practice the values of giving, and to reflect on these difficulties that do not directly affect us. I left knowing I have a family on campus now.
What advice would you give to a student thinking about getting involved?
Being involved is not only about time, it is about dedication and commitment. If you want to be more engaged, you should do so for something you are passionate about. For me, this meant that I had to see what was most important to me and find a way to help others while at the same time helping and learning for myself. I identify strongly with my culture and my status in society, which is why I work for the Office of Multicultural Student Success now. Ultimately, if you're thinking of getting involved, immerse yourself into something you're genuinely curious about.--something that is fulfilling for you and your studies. Even if you think you know about certain topics, being involved allows you to grow even more on those subjects, and as a person. It requires dedicating time, being committed to the goals and the causes of the specific program you're interested in, and making sure that the efforts in the program have a positive influence on you so that you want to share it with others.
Tell us 3 fun facts about yourself.
- Everyone that meets me assumes that I am an 'only child'. I have no idea why! Their eyes pop open when they find out that I am actually the youngest of 6 kids, I have 8 nephews, and I have three dogs. I like to goof around and say that we are the Mexican version of the T.V. series "Full House."
- I absolutely love painting, drawing, sewing and working with stained glass. I sell some of my paintings and portraits, but most of the time I love giving them to my friends and family as gifts. They cry tears of joy when it is a painting of someone or something they love.
- I love getting scared! Folklore, spooky tales and paranormal incidents are intriguing to me.