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Luis Alarcón: Mastermind of student success


Recruitment Coordinator Luis Alarcón is driven to succeed, and has never stopped working toward new goals since returning to Elgin Community College in 2017 as an employee after first arriving in 2002 as an adult basic education student.

“I knew that I wanted to be someone, but I didn't know I was going to be in higher education,” he said. “Before ECC, my goal was to keep learning.”

His office is visible proof of his success. On Alarcón's wall are the various cords he wore during his commencement ceremonies at ECC, Eastern Illinois University and DePaul University. Accompanying them are certificates documenting the scholarships he received from ECC Board of Trustees and the ECC Foundation; Rotary International; and other academic honor societies.

Part of Alarcón's success is an uncle and aunt who paid his room and board if Alarcón moved from California to Illinois. His uncle's only condition was that Alarcón enroll in college and earn good grades.

After taking GED® and ESL classes at ECC's former Fountain Square Campus in downtown Elgin, Alarcón was undecided about his goals when he began to take credit classes at the Main Campus. He credits the college's academic advisors and other student services staff for helping him chart his academic path.

Some former and current ECC employees Alarcón credits for going above and beyond for him are Stephanie Bonvallet; Carol Cowles; Gabe Lara; Manuel Salgado; Arturo Vazquez; Jeff Weisman; Joyce Fountain; Nancy Perez; Soynia Gilliam; Pat O'Brien; Bob Cywinski; Connie Zapata; Julie Monterrubio; and Sara Baker.

“I have been able to accomplish many of my goals due to the constant support of God, my loved ones, friends, mentors and other individuals and organizations that believed in me,” he said.

The more education Alarcón received, the more his personality changed. Literally.

“I'm an INTJ,” he said, referring to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator traits of introversion, intuition, thinking and judgment. According to Myers-Briggs, this profile represents "The Mastermind,” one of 16 psychological types. Surprised by his discovery, Alarcón retook the assessment several times in different formats, but it garnered the same result.

“When I was younger, I likely would have had a different result,” he said. “But now, it's solid.”

We asked Alarcón some questions about himself and his work at ECC. Here are his answers.

In your words, what do you do at ECC?

I assist prospective and returning students with the enrollment process. I work with them one-on-one until we have all the paperwork required to start earning one of ECC's career, technical or transfer degrees.

Furthermore, I point students to the right individual and department regarding financial aid, scholarships, academic advising and other student support services that ECC provides.

What is your greatest accomplishment since you've been here?

I don't think that I can answer this yet; I'm fairly new to the job and to working at ECC. Thus. I have not been able to make a true, meaningful, substantial contribution just yet in my humble opinion. However, that may come sooner than later.

What would you do if you were ECC president for a day?

I would probably donate two thirds of my salary to the ECC Foundation to establish scholarships aimed only to the most disadvantaged students and undocumented students-these groups are quite often unable to fund their educations or take longer to complete their studies due to the many hardships they face. Also, I would hold an all-day workshop on conscious leadership where all staff, faculty, administration, and students can come together to learn more about emotional intelligence, how to practice effective communication, how to be better team players, and more.

Constant professional development and growth are necessary in order to better ourselves and provide an amazing service to all our stakeholders.

If there was a movie about your life, who would you want to play you?

Tough choice! I would say it would be Jim Carrey or Johnny Depp. Both can easily play me during my firm and serious moments, and can also portray my most silly, hilarious and energetic moods.

What's on your “bucket list?”

There are several: Enroll in an EdD program right after completing my MEd., enroll in a PhD program after the EdD is completed; travel to Europe, especially Spain, Germany, France and Italy; attend a FIFA World Cup; eventually occupy the role of a dean or vice-president of student affairs in a four year institution; and most importantly, keep putting myself at the service of others throughout my life journey.

What's one fact we should know about you?

I am avid seeker of knowledge and enjoy literature, fitness and anime.

What's something about your job that others should know?

I love what I do. I am grateful I am doing something that gives me satisfaction, joy, and a sense of accomplishment. Although I assist students with enrolling at ECC, my office is always open to those that have felt a connection upon visiting me. I look forward to seeing them grow academically, professionally and personally. I can't wait to see them walk on the commencement stage.

What was your favorite class in school?

High School: History and English were my favorites.

College: Many literature classes, especially Arthurian traditions, Shakespeare, Chaucer and The Renaissance.

What was your first job out of school?

I've had many, and I am proud of every single one of them. From selling clothing at swap meets, washing buses by hand, working with injection molding machines, all the way to flipping hamburgers, washing bathrooms, and being a server at a restaurant.

What quote best describes your philosophy?

“Compose. (No ideas

but in things) Invent!

Saxifrage is my flower that splits

the rocks.”

- William Carlos Williams

Complete this sentence: “I enjoy working at ECC because … “

I believe in the institution's mission of improving people's lives through learning, and I am surrounded by an excellent team of peers and colleagues.

Also, it is a privilege that I am fortunate enough to make a difference in the lives of others as a result of my role. Students are and will always be my priority. As I often say, without the students, there is no need for the institution.


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