It happens quite often that during IPFW registration, Stephany Alarcon spies a future student accompanied by a supportive parent who knows little English.
There's a look of relief as she steps in to engage them.
“Seeing they might need some assistance and going up and saying, 'Hi, is there anything I can help you with?' in Spanish, seeing their faces drop and saying, 'Oh my goodness. Someone can actually talk to me about what's going on in a way I understand it.'”
It's that kind of interaction that brought Alarcon to her job as new student programs coordinator. She welcomes freshmen and coordinates new student orientation for incoming classes.
Alarcon, 27, manages 20 orientation student leaders, usually upperclassmen interested in taking a leadership role by helping new students. Alarcon does this as she pursues her own degree in communications.
During the advising and registration process, Alarcon and her student leaders talk to new students about resources on campus. Students are split by their educational focus and go with an orientation leader who helps them register.
“So, I'm the person behind the scenes that's getting everything ready for the next batch of students, coordinating our advisers and our rooms and the content,” Alarcon said. “So, just about everything that goes into that, I'm the person on the back end.”
Alarcon is “driven and purposeful,” Kristina Creager, associate vice chancellor for student success and transitions and financial aid director, said in an email. “She is always willing to lend an extra hand where needed; translate for a Spanish-speaking family; make things look better with her creative abilities; or simply provide support. She's mature and politically smart well beyond her years.”
Alarcon arrived at IPFW in 2012 and was a staff member in the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs for five years. With a background in Spanish and English, Alarcon has been in her current job, something she feels she stumbled into, for about a year.
“I didn't realize how robust or how complex this really could be,” she said. “But being here for the past six years has really opened up a passion for serving and helping students, and, you know, while helping myself along the way.”
For now, Alarcon is concentrating on her job and enjoys seeing her student leaders grow.
“Sometimes you have students who are very timid, very scared of even talking to other people,” she said. “And then by the end of the summer you see that they are very confident, that they've grown into their skills, and they are then doing the same for other students that they meet. So, they're learning from their experiences and translating that into helping another student do that for themselves.”
Title: Student programs coordinator, IPFW
Background: Born in Los Angeles, moved with family to Fort Wayne at age 8; graduate of South Side High School; working on bachelor's degree in communications at IPFW