BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— Don’t talk trash about Chicago’s South Side to Veronica Torres
“Most people are afraid to go there,” she said of her hometown’s reputation for crime
and poverty. “I am proud to say I’m from the South Side. I have learned to turn the
fear into courage in order to overcome the obstacles.”
The first in her family to attend college, Torres said it has been a difficult journey,
but with support from teachers, counselors and her peers, she’s stayed on track to
attend Illinois Wesleyan, where she was wowed during the Admissions Office’s Scholars Day 2015.
“Everyone was so kind and helpful that IWU stood out from all the other colleges I
visited,” Torres said of the opportunity to meet with faculty.
The sense of community Torres felt as a prospective student has stayed true now that
she’s arrived on campus. “I love everything about IWU – the environment, professors,
students and opportunities,” said Torres. “It’s a community that really cares about
you and that wants you to be successful. I also like the high level of knowledge the
professors have.” Torres also appreciates the attention she gets from Illinois Wesleyan’s
11 to 1 faculty to student ratio.
Torres has jumped in to campus life with both feet. She’s been accepted into the First
Year Leadership Institute and she plans to join SALSA (Spanish and Latino Student
Association) to stay in touch with her Latino roots. She’s been elected to Student
Senate, a commitment she believes will allow her to meet new people and to contribute
to the IWU community.
It’s a first step for a young woman majoring in political science who someday wants to hold elected office to represent minorities. Torres has already
volunteered in five campaigns through the Mikva Challenge. The Chicago-based civic leadership program develops youth to be informed, empowered
and active citizens and community leaders. This summer Torres interned for Rep. Silvana
Tabares (D-Chicago), who represents the 21st District.
From her AP government and politics class in high school through her volunteer work
on campaigns, Torres has observed a thread that disturbs her. “Everyone was white
and old,” she said. “We need people of color and we need youth, because that is the
only way change can happen.”
Diversity at Illinois Wesleyan has already impressed Torres. “It’s still a developing
concept, but the university is doing a good job addressing this. I have already interacted
with students from different countries and backgrounds, which has enriched my knowledge
and understanding of different cultures.” Nearly 26 percent of the Class of 2019 represent
a wide variety of cultural backgrounds.