Alumnus Snapshot:

Name: Alyssa Pacheco

Hometown: Galesburg, IL

Degrees Received: Associates of Arts, Carl Sandburg College '17; Bachelors - Business & Management, Knox College

Current Employer: Orion Renewable Energy Group, LLC - Galesburg Office Manager

Community organizations: Galesburg on Track, a Heart & Soul Community; Kappa Kappa Gamma, Eta Kappa Chapter External Affairs Adviser; Carl Sandburg College Alumni Association Board, Secretary & Member

Family: Husband - Adam Pacheco '08

             Daughter - Izabella Pacheco

             Mother - Andrea Lopez '07

             Father(s) - Justin Main '09; Paul Lawson '10

             Sisters - Natalie Main '19 & Alexia Main; Hailey Lawson, Current Sandburg Student

Awards and honors: Recently promoted to Assistant Vice President at First Mid Bank & Trust

Alyssa shares how attending a junior college impacted her as early as her high school years thanks to taking part in TRIO:

As a member of TRIO Upward Bound in high school I was fortunate enough to have begun my journey as a Carl Sandburg College Student over the summer periods of my secondary education years. I grew extremely comfortable with the campus and aware of the many resources made available to students during their studies. This ability to earn college credits during the summer seasons of my high school years impacted me positively in multiple ways. 

Primarily, attending college-level classes at such a young age opened my mind to the various methods of study, discipline, and self-accountability associated with achieving success. Becoming aware of these skill-sets provided a solid foundation for strengthening my academic endeavors in high school, which carried over into my academic success once I graduated from high school and began to attend Sandburg. By going to school year-round, and heightening my study capabilities/time management, I was able to tackle multiple AP class-loads, working two jobs, and participate in multiple extracurricular activities with great success. As a result, I was able to earn and obtain my Associate of Arts degree from Sandburg in one year, rather than two. 

This achievement propelled me further in my ability to earn my Bachelors Degree from Knox College in a two-year time span - 3 years total of undergraduate studies. Had I not committed to furthering my credits obtained from Sandburg, and rather gone to a four-year college straight out of high school I would have added an additional year to my time spent earning my bachelor's degree as well as placed myself into a financial deficit. 

From a financial aspect, since I had formed a familiarity with Sandburg's workload, resources, and professor expectations for success, I was better able to manage my time in an effective way that allowed me to work two part-time jobs. This ability to work and attend school created a pathway for financial stability while in school. This way, I would graduate with my degrees without a hefty financial obligation to pay back loans. 

A big impact in Alyssa's life and academic career was taking psychology courses during her tenure at Sandburg:

As a student who participated in rigorous classes during high school, I believe I developed an attitude that I could get things done in a timely, effective manner, so long as I read the material, knew what was expected of me, and showed up for success. However, once I became a full-time Sandburg student, I was provided with a new way of thinking about how to approach problem-solving and life in general.

My Cognitive Psychology professor introduced to me a new way of thinking- one that is not always so linear and black and white. Her teachings allowed me to see that things aren’t always as they appear, and more often than not the thoughts that reach your mind first are the ones that arrive the quickest because they are what we are familiar with. She implored me to dig deeper into the whys, hows and, back-stories behind the surface-level answer that arrives at me first, in a linear fashion. 

This changed my entire perspective on how I look at the world around me. I was able to realize that life situations are a product of a holistic, full-circle view that derives multiple possible solutions/points of perspective.

Sandburg students are invited to partake in several activities on campus. For Alyssa, one event, in particular, stood out in her mind as she reflects on her time spent at Sandburg: 

My favorite memory from my time spent on campus stems from an event held by the college where they invited Stephen Pemberton, author of the memoir A Chance in the World, to speak about his life journey, challenges, and triumphs. He spoke about how he overcame the obstacles of being an orphan and feeling as though he wouldn’t amount to very much as a result. 

There was a specific moment during the event that he recounts undergoing a mind-shift, where he decided that he was determined to make his life into something greater than he ever had imagined before. This change in mindset was the pivotal moment that propelled him forward and served as his undying motivation to persevere and overcome each obstacle as it showed up in his life - without excuses. 

As a first-generation college student, a former beneficiary of government-backed programs, and a member of the lower socio-economic class I could resonate with feeling as though the world and road ahead to success were bound to be filled with up-hill battles. His message was inspiring and a testament to the fact that no matter where you come from you are responsible for figuring out where you go/are going. Adopting this mindset in my own life was key to my success so far and an important aspect of working to obtain future goals.

Alyssa continues to stay connected to Sandburg in various ways:

I have stayed connected to Sandburg in both direct and indirect ways. I have enjoyed being a member of the Alumni Association over the past year and working to fundraise, event-plan and coordinate logistics of making the Alumni group maintain closer ties to the college no matter where they move, or what endeavors that they move onto. 

In indirect ways, I make it a point to be an advocate for the TRIO SSS program that Sandburg has to offer students while attending school. The resources, guidance, and overall support made available by the individuals who make up this program are beneficial to students in more ways than I can begin to put into words. Navigating the college experience is often overwhelming in and of itself, this experience is only amplified when students come from backgrounds where they may be the first to attend college and pursue a degree. 

Additionally, I am a strong advocate for encouraging high school graduates near Sandburg to pursue their Associates's Degree from Sandburg. This will allow them to complete their general studies at a much lower cost, before continuing on to obtain their Bachelor's degree - if that is their desired life path. This decision will place them in a better position to become financially stable after their collegiate years and not burdened by the debts most often associated with attending a 4-year institution straight out of high school.

Individuals join the Alumni Board for a multitude of reasons. For Alyssa, forging a connection between current students and those who graduate was what initially inspired her to join:

I was inspired to join the board in an effort to do my part to facilitate connections between current Sandburg students and those who have graduated and moved onto pursue greater things. As a more recent graduate, I felt as though I was able to bring to the table some fresh ideas that would resonate with students who are in my generational spectrum. Additionally, I hope to be a part of fostering a group of connections for alumni to come together in a way that allows them to showcase their pride in being a former Carl Sandburg College student. 

Additionally, I felt empowered to give back to the college that has played such a vital role in my overall success, as well as a key motivator in my life since I was a freshman in high school.