Student represents peers in IBHE
Stephanie Torres Celis, junior public health major, will represent students in the Illinois Board of Higher Education this fall.
Stephanie Torres Celis, junior public health major, is Latino, female and a community college graduate, which she believes will make her perspective unique to the Illinois Board of Higher Education this fall.
Celis is one of two student representatives to sit on the IBHE which is responsible for developing a plan to guide Illinois’ higher educational development, recommending budgets to the Governor and General Assembly, maintaining relevant data, among other things, according to the IBHE’s website.
“Usually we talk about African Americans and Latinos not being well represented,” Celis said. “What about adding Native American students [to that conversation]? There’s so many different groups, it almost becomes difficult to talk about. Because we have so many groups to talk about, we spread ourselves thin.”
As a student representative, Celis is responsible for serving as a bridge between the IBHE and the student body by giving insight on students needs. She plans on representing the student body of the state by communicating frequently with the student leadership of public and private universities and colleges like the Student Association at NIU.
The College of Dupage graduate sat on the Illinois Community College Board as a student representative during Fiscal Year 2015-16 and said she became aware of states issues during her term. Her experience encouraged her to apply for the IBHE student member position.
Celis was selected by the recognized advisory committee of students of the board. Justin Provo, economics major at Roosevelt University, was also selected as the non-traditional student member, according to the IBHE’s website.
“I found that it was very important to become more involved with our immediate community to make an impact,” Celis said. “When I was told that the position was opening up, I decided to take a chance and see if I could bring a new perspective. It’s a nice opportunity for leadership development and to learn more about the state and civic engagement.”
Celis believes college affordability is an important topic to bring to the board because it can determine whether or not a student will attend college which Celis said shouldn’t be an obstacle to students. In light of the state budget impasse, she thinks affordability is very relevant.
The year-long budget impasse arose from a standstill between Illinois lawmakers to pass the Fiscal Year 2016 budget which includes money for state funded institutions like NIU.
In preparation for the position, Celis spoke with SA Senate Speaker Christine Wang about NIU’s student government and resources on campus.
“I know that leaders like Wang are a great resource,” Celis said. “That’s what they’re there to do; that’s their job. If [students] feel comfortable, they can reach out to me. It’s always nice to hear different perspectives.”
Celis is arranging student advisory meetings where student leaders on campus can attend and discuss topics to be brought to the board.
Call the Student Association at 815-753-0486 to set up an appointment to talk to a student representative. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to talk to Celis about upcoming student advisory meetings.