Oak Lawn resident and Moraine Valley Community College student Michael Vazquez was one of three students honored with the League for Innovation in the Community College Terry O’Banion Student Technology Award on March 19. This national award recognizes achievements by community college students pursuing careers within the technology field.
The award is broken down into two honors—Student Developer Champion and Student Technology Champion, the latter of which Vazquez received. He has taken a number of classes in the Information Management Systems program with the next goal of earning a bachelor’s degree in information technology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He already has eight industry certifications, four certificates and two associate degrees after attending part- and full-time since 2014. After working a stream of minimum wage jobs from restaurant host to high school janitor, he returned to college at age 22 and has since amassed at least 90 credit hours. Vazquez earned the award based on his stellar academic performance and perseverance as a first-generation college student.
“The first time I returned to college, I failed all my classes. It took work to get back into it. You realize there’s not much out there without a college degree,” Vazquez said. “I’m humbled. I didn’t think I had a chance to win. Winning this award means I am more capable than I thought. It gives me confidence that I can go further and keep the accomplishments going.”
Moraine Valley is a member school of the League, which brings community colleges across the country together to cultivate innovation on campuses. The last time a Moraine Valley student earned this honor was 2015 as well as 2014 and 2011.
“The essence of the award is to recognize a student who not only has exemplary technology skills but also has the people skills to be able to go out and make a difference in the world,” said Michelle August, Moraine Valley department chair of Information Management Systems, who nominated Vazquez. “Receiving such an award has to make all of the hard work and challenges that he faced well worth it. It is an affirmation that Michael didn’t just reach his goals, but he surpassed them. It shows that he is a go-getter and a leader in his field.”