Student Development Liaisonjames.email@example.com(708) 656-8000
Ext: #2459Building C, Room 239
Alicia Navarro was incredulous when told she could make a career out of organizing events. It’s something she always enjoyed doing for free at Morton College. Now, she’s credentialed in her field, able to list MSHTM and CMP after her last name.
The Cicero resident had just graduated from Roosevelt University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, but when the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009 struck jobs in Navarro’s field were scarce.
Beneath Navarro’s warm and friendly demeanor is a tough interior capable of successfully handling adversity and making difficult decisions. Navarro rebounded from this setback by exploring other options. She learned Roosevelt offered a master’s program in hospitality management.
“I took a few classes,” Navarro said. “I had a professor who told me, ‘Why aren’t you doing this for a living?’ I thought it was something you could fall into. I went ahead and got my master’s degree. That’s how everything else kicked in from there.”
The Roosevelt degree enabled Navarro to put MSHTM (Masters of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management) following her name. The CMP (Certified Meeting Planner) certification came later when Navarro passed an exam administered by the Convention Industry Council last January.
While getting her masters, Navarro worked as an intern at the American Library Association.
“I would say if you know what field you want to get into, but don’t have the experience,” Navarro said, “internships are the way to go. There’s nothing wrong with interning while going to school.”
A little over a year later in June of 2014, she was hired full-time and now is the association’s Content and Technology Coordinator.
Navarro admits to having an amazing job that she adores. Her office is 1½ blocks off Michigan Avenue’s “Magnificent Mile.” She travels all across the United States for association conferences. Founded in 1876, the ALA is the world’s oldest and largest library association.
She works with anything tech-related for members attending the association’s two yearly national conferences. Her master’s thesis centered on mobile apps in the meeting industry.
"Everything is tech-based,” Navarro admits. “Mobile apps have changed so drastically. In my role as Content and Technology Coordinator, I work on anything tech-related, mobile apps, on-line content, websites, social media. I provide attendees with updates with what’s happening and what to look forward to. I run the mobile apps at conferences and send out information in a variety of ways.”
Navarro’s path to success wasn’t easy nor did it come quickly.
“When I started at Morton College, I wanted to get stuff done fast,” Navarro admitted. “Once I let go of that idea, the better. It took me 8½ years to go from high school to a bachelor’s degree. It took me that long because life happens, but that didn’t stop me.”
Navarro graduated from Morton East High School in 2000. She spent her first two years at Eastern Illinois University before heading to Morton College.
“I didn’t have a good time there, so I decided to come home,” Navarro said.
Waiting at home was Navarro’s mother with an ultimatum – find a job or go back to school. Navarro chose the latter and signed up for a summer semester psychology course taught by Robert Wood.
“He took the time to talk to me,” Navarro recalled. “He helped me understand what I ought to do. Growing up in Cicero, this was like home for me.”
Navarro became involved again. She was selected Student Member to the Board of Trustees, serving a one-year term from 2002 to 2003. Her term was anything but routine as the Board was involved in a presidential search that produced Brent Knight, who was responsible for the rebuilding of the library, science and computer labs, the Hawthorne Works Museum and the historic/cultural theme walls and classrooms on campus.
“It was a learning experience,” Navarro said. “Not many students can say they experienced something like a college presidential selection. It involved reviewing resumes, discussing each person’s strengths and weaknesses.”
Navarro earned two associate’s degrees from Morton College. She worked in the Bookstore and in Student Activities. She was surrounded by a wonderful network of caring instructors and staff like Cheryl Schoepf, Gene Suire, Karen Querfurth, Iris Nuñez, Ernesto Mejia and many others. Navarro credited Mejia with “helping me discover myself.”
Although Navarro loved being a part of Morton College, she knew it was time to transition on to the next phase of life.
“Being at Morton College felt like a family,” Navarro said. “I had to leave Morton College because I needed to finish my education. I saw I needed to leave my comfort zone. If I didn’t, I definitely wouldn’t have gotten as far.”