Harold Washington College student Oscar Nevarez loves to help people. His empathy for others has helped Oscar thrive at Harold Washington, and he hopes it will help in his future career as well.

When Oscar first enrolled at Harold Washington, he was overwhelmed. He was working a job he didn’t like, he was always tired, and his GPA wasn’t great. When he quit his job to focus solely on school, things started to turn around for Oscar.

He started using the resources available to students, like the Tutoring Center and TRIO. TRIO provides student support services, including financial assistance, clinical counseling, financial literacy, academic support, and mentoring. Oscar met with his TRIO mentor weekly, who held Oscar accountable for his coursework.

“It felt good to have that support,” Oscar said. “I wouldn’t be where I am now without it.”

With this support, Oscar’s GPA got better.

“Seeing that number grow and watching myself grow too really helped me feel good about myself,” Oscar said.

The higher Oscar’s GPA grew, the more doors it opened. It made him eligible to join the Student Government Association (SGA) at Harold Washington, and he did. Initially, Oscar wasn’t sure if he’d like SGA, but he was looking to get more involved on campus and try new things. It proved to be a good fit.

“It was the best decision I ever made,” he said. “SGA has helped me develop as a leader and help me get involved.”

As SGA vice president, Oscar helps students create new clubs and listens to the changes they want to see on campus. For instance, students told Oscar they wanted more spaces on campus to connect with each other. He cleaned out cluttered rooms at Harold Washington that weren’t being used. Now, they’re available for the Harold Washington student body to hang out, relax, and meet with their clubs.

Oscar has also been strengthening his leadership skills outside of Harold Washington. During the summer and fall of 2023, he interned at 12th Ward Alderwoman Julia Ramirez’s office. This not only made him a stronger SGA leader, but it also made Oscar consider studying political science so he can pursue a career in politics of his own one day. He appreciates the personal growth he’s seen from both leadership opportunities.

“I learned how to be a good leader, how to bring people together, and how to get people to buy-in to what you’re trying to do,” he said.

Oscar’s future is looking bright. He wants to become a city leader and create change in his Back of the Yards neighborhood one day, but he’s also a big sports fan and is considering a career in the sports industry. Oscar’s also considering returning to Harold Washington as a staff member one day and paying his experience forward. Whatever Oscar decides, he’s determined to use his leadership skills to continue bettering his life, his community, and the lives of others.