ARISE Student Board

The ARISE Student Board is composed of students from every year who were nominated by their peers to represent the voice of their season. They advocate for change and actively work on improving the student experience within the program. They do everything from planning events to running our social media accounts to revising our scholars requirements.

Montse Sanchez

Engineering Undeclared | Class of 2028

“I’m a super social person who loves the color pink and all things related to Hello Kitty. I have the cutest pug named Sophia back home in Chicago. I’m always up for making new friends, so don’t hesitate to reach out and say hi! I am involved in the Illinois Scholars Program (ISP), Engineers in Action (EIA), and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE)."

Fun fact: I learned how to do acrylic nails in under a month and became a nail technician.

Shawn Strong

Engineering Undeclared | Class of 2028

"My favorite subject is math, and it always has been since I was a little kid. I love video games, and I'm a kind, but fun person when you get to know me. I'm involved in the ARISE Student Board, Illinois Scholars Program (ISP), and looking to join National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)."

Fun fact: I'm red-green colorblind, and I'm one of the very few people keeping Twizzlers in business.

Olivia Miller

Mechanical Engineering | Class of 2027

“I love to work out, listen to music (some of my favorite artists are Tyler, The Creator, The Strokes, and The Weeknd), and I love naps. I’m involved in the ARISE Student Board, Society of Women Engineering (SWE), and Club Pickleball.”

Fun fact: I love to play guitar.

Pavle Ocokoljic

Electrical Engineering | Class of 2027

“I’m a first-generation student who moved here from Serbia in 2017. While I lived there, I visited countries like Montenegro, Greece, Austria, and Slovenia. I like cinematography and listening to podcasts. My favorite podcast is Zane and Heath: Unfiltered. I’m a CA for MATH 115, a CARE tutor & peer advisor, and studied abroad in Bolivia.”

Fun fact: I'm a part owner of Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google. (I own a small handful of their company stock).

Grace Cho

Computer Science | Class of 2026

“I love music and theatre, playing video games with my friends, watching anime, and taking naps. I am involved in Illini Student Musicals (ISM), Soft Robotics Research, and will be an Engineering Learning Assistant for ENG 100.”

Fun fact: I'm 149.225cm, 58.8in, or 4ft 11in tall.

Geo Qadri

Systems Engineering | Class of 2026

“I like to workout and train combat sports which I've recently gotten into. I also like to play sports and video games. Some of my favorites from each would be basketball and COD. I am an MEP Peer Mentor, a CARE tutor, and part of the ARISE Student Board.”

Fun fact: I'm 188.976cm, 74.4in, or 6ft 2in tall.

Jorge Jimenez

Mechanical Engineering | Class of 2025

“I enjoy playing video games, playing soccer, and watching movies. I’m involved in Soft Robotics Research, MechSE MakerWorks Club, and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE).”

Fun fact: I once slept for about 18 hours straight.

Eric Nieto

Electrical Engineering | Class of 2025

“I love to watch plants grow, currently building a robot, and I play guitar. I’m a G&W Electric Intern, part of the ARISE Student Board, and am an ECE 330 Grader.”

Fun fact: I am a motorcycle enthusiast who knows how to ride one!

Cornell Horne

Electrical Engineering | Class of 2024

“I am an avid lover of Jesus Christ, I love working out, eating food, playing basketball and enjoying time with my family. I am a Men’s Bible Study Leader, a CARE tutor, and am involved in Soft Robotics Research.”

Fun fact: My favorite emoji is the double pink hearts!

Christina Garcia

Civil Engineering | Class of 2024

“I love crocheting, collecting vinyl records, and running. I’m involved in Society of Women Engineers (SWE), the Hoeft Technology and Management program, and research on tensegrity structures.”

Fun fact: I have been vegetarian for 7 years (and counting)!

Vanessa Blas

M.S. Systems Engineering | Class of '23 and '25

“I love listening to Spotify, reading, and I am learning how to ice skate. I’m involved with Industrial and Systems Engineering Research Experiences for Undergraduates, Society for the Advancement of Chicano/ Hispanic and Native Americans in the Sciences (SACNAS), and worked at the UGL and Main libraries.”

Fun Fact: When I was little, I wanted to be a NASCAR driver.