Concordia University Chicago
ACI Peer Mentoring Program
Melanie Gallardo, a first-generation student from Elgin, Illinois, was introduced to Concordia University Chicago through a campus tour and almost immediately decided that the River Forest university would be her college choice. She attended Jumpstart, a college introduction program, prior to entering Concordia, and it was there that she learned about the ACI Peer Mentoring Program. At her mother’s urging, she joined.
“I felt like I could be a part of something that could really benefit me as a first-generation student,” says Gallardo. “Since both of my parents don’t really know how school works after high school, I never really knew how to ask for help when it came to college work, especially when it comes to financial aid, because we weren’t really aware of where we could go for help.”
Gallardo says she’s interested in a career as a middle school teacher because she had a good school experience during those years. “I know that as an educator, it’s really hard for students, especially in middle school, to make that connection with why they should love education. I just want to be a part of that for them, guiding them towards loving education, the same way I did when I was in 7th grade,” she says.
Since her first semester at Concordia, Gallardo has learned a lot about college life and joined student government, serving as a senator. She credit her mentor, also an education major, for teaching her about class schedules, financial aid and how to be a successful student. This was especially true in her first semester in college. “She laid out the outline of how my future years are going to be here as a student at Concordia,” Gallardo says.
“In my case, having a peer mentor has strongly affected the way I’m going to continue my education,” she says. “I think that I had that boost that not many students on campus have, and for that, I’m very grateful.”
ACI General Scholarship
Camille Pruvost chose to attend Principia College in Elsah, Illinois, to explore questions of theology and religion as part of a double major with music. She also chose Principia because she knew she could study in an environment where she could express her faith and be safe. Pruvost, a fifth-year senior from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, says small classes and the liberal arts experience at Principia has helped her grow, too. “At Principia, I get to explore not only questions of religion and theology, but sciences that I have loved in middle school, like earth science. I’m taking a geology course right now,” she says. “I get to explore politics, writing courses and different literature from around the world.” Pruvost has also studied abroad in Paris, Prague, Vienna, and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
To Pruvost, music is a way to express ideas about religion and theology. After Principia, she hopes to attend a seminary, and earn a master’s degree and doctorate, studying topics such as religious epistemology and apologetics, with a concentration in theodicy of the problem of evil. “With all of that, my ministry would then be a music ministry – recording and healing through music,” she says.
Pruvost is a soloist at her church, religion tutor and writing tutor. She helps in the music department and has been treasurer and secretary of Phi Alpha Eta, a scholastic honor society at Principia. She says her ACI General Scholarship has made it possible for her to continue singing. “It has meant that I’m able to continue taking voice lessons this semester,” she says. “Because my major is music, it means I’m keeping up on vocal lessons. Having to cover that as well for a fifth year would have been a lot for me personally. So ACI meant that I could continue.” It also means she can plan for another study experience abroad to Jordan, Israel, the West Bank and Palestine.
“I’m deeply grateful for the scholarship that I received,” she says. “It’s an investment in future thinkers, people that are really working to make the world a better place.”