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Gilberto Chaidez, Jr. -- August 2010

Gilberto Chaidez, Jr.
CHCI-Ford Scholar
Hometown: Aurora, IL
School: BS, Civil Engineering
Major: University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

What field of study do you intend to pursue if you receive the CHCI Scholarship, and how will it benefit the Latino community?

I was interested in building structures at an early age. I was fascinated by how a couple of Lego's could create an extraordinary masterpiece. I would spend hours creating mini cities from thousands of pieces of Lego's. In middle school, I discovered that there was actually a career that had a similar description to my passion for creating buildings and other structures. I believed that architects had the best job in the world. I continued to dream of being an architect well into high school, until I discovered an even more perfect career. In my junior year, I was informed of what exactly civil engineering is and how it pertains to the basic principles of architecture. Since I was interested in math, I knew that civil engineering would be the best option for me because it focuses more on how a structure is built.

I plan to use the knowledge and skills that I receive from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to create high quality infrastructures. I would like to take civil engineering to a new level by designing new structures that will have a global impact.

As a first generation Mexican American to attend college, my entire family looks up to me. I believe that I have the responsibility to show them, especially my two younger brothers, that anything is possible. I recognize the obligation that comes with such an opportunity. If I waste this chance, then my family might think it is okay for them to settle for failure too.

My parents have supported me throughout my life. My father works 12 hours a day for six days a week to provide my brothers and me the life that he and my mother could not live. I believe that the best way to pay them back is to "pay it forward," to help someone else out in his or her time of need. I hope that my work in the community and at school have had a positive impact.

I want to be the person who helped the doctor who found the cure for cancer, attend college.

I believe that I also have the responsibility to help my culture and I plan to do it one kind act at a time. Robert Renteria, a mentor of mine, taught me a valuable lesson about reaching the American Dream, he said, "I learned to never let anyone tell me I can't do something - remember as long as we have a heart -we always have a chance."

How Has the Scholarship Changed Your Life?

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), has provided me with many opportunities. The CHCI Scholarship has alleviated the obstacle of overcoming the large price tag that comes along with pursuing a higher education, especially engineering. CHCI has enabled me to pursue my dreams of becoming a civil engineer. Along with the monetary award, I am thankful for receiving the laptop because it has allowed for more flexibility with my demanding academic career.

Overall, CHCI has contributed to helping my parents support me both financially and academically. I now have the ability to primarily focus on my studies and future job opportunities, instead of worrying that I may not be able to afford the next semester's worth of classes. Having chosen me as one of the recipients, CHCI proved that I had potential to make a difference in this world. I have promised to not take this award for granted and have worked hard to do well in all my classes. I currently hold a 3.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale.

Past Scholar of the Month

Mariam G. Lopez - August 2015 Scholar of the Month
Daniela Carbajal - July 2015 Scholar of the Month
Beverly Apodaca - May 2015 Scholar of the Month
Edwin Hurtado - April 2015 Scholar of the Month
David Rodriguez - March 2015 Scholar of the Month
Jennifer Villalobos - February 2015 Scholar of the Month
Maria Garibay Campos - January 2015 Scholar of the Month
Samantha Perez - December 2014 Scholar of the Month
Andrea Gutierrez - November 2014 Scholar of the Month
Elias Jimenez - September 2014 Scholar of the Month
Monserrat Baeza - August 2014 Scholar of the Month
Mayra Estrada - July 2014 Scholar of the Month
Isaias Faustino - June 2014 Scholar of the Month
Wendy Cartagena-Gonzalez - May 2014 Scholar of the Month
Cesar Esteban Bernal - April 2014 Scholar of the Month
Celia Flores - March 2014 Scholar of the Month
Aldo Sosa - February 2014 Scholar of the Month
Mikayla B. Aviles - January 2014 Scholar of the Month
Christian Guerrero - December 2013 - Scholar of the Month
Esperanza Perez - November 2013 - Scholar of the Month
Adrian Rosas September 2013 Scholar of the Month
Vivienne T. Meljen - August 2013 Scholar of the Month
Sophia DeAraujo - July 2013 SOTM
Ricky Vides - Scholar of the Month - June 2013
Kelvin Castillo - Scholar of the Month - May 2013
Xochitl Davila - Scholar of the Month - April 2013
Brian Ibarra - March 2013 Scholar of the Month
Jacqueline B. Odum - February 2013 Scholar of the Month
Alexis Nava Teodoro - January 2013
Cristina Gil - December 2012
Roy Nuñez -- November 2012 Scholar
Karla Arevalo-Alas -- October 2012 Scholar
Luis C. Alvarez Scholar -- September 2012
Carolina Gonzalez Scholar -- July 2012
Daniel Caraballo Scholar -- June 2012
Rose Aviles Scholar -- May 2012
Felix A. Navarro, Jr.-April 2012 Scholar
Andie Lee Gonzalez-March 2012 Scholar
Kevin Magaña-February 2012 Scholar
Rebecca Rodriguez-January 2012 Scholar
Erika S. DiVivo-August Scholar
Wesley Quevedo - July Scholar
Arlett A. Aguayo - June Scholar
Ricardo L. Baez-May Scholar
Natalie Chiriboga - April Scholar
Eddie L. Castanon - March 2011
Monica Avila -- February 2011
Daniel R. Lopez -- December 2010
Maria Murillo -- November 2010
Gilberto Chaidez, Jr. -- August 2010
Stephanie A. Alvarez -- July 2010
Christian Amador -- June 2010
Isabeth Mendoza --May 2010