A Legacy of Empowerment
“I’ve had lots of experiences at Central where I’ve been able to curate my skills and continue to grow as a leader and as a student, helping me to become a well-rounded person.”
— Gloria Montiel ’23
Hometown: Columbus Junction, Iowa
Majors: Communications and Spanish
Scholarships: William Randolph Hearst Fund for Minority Students and Journey
Campus Activities: Alliance of Underrepresented People, Student Support Services, Spanish Language Assistant, Advocate for Community Engagement, Organization of Latinx-American Students, Tri-Alpha
Career: Talent Acquisition Specialist
Location: Pella, Iowa
Gloria Montiel ’23 isn’t afraid to lead. In fact, it’s something she thrives on. What else would you expect from a first-generation college student? And Central College has been the perfect place for her to showcase that passion and grow in ways she never could have imagined.
Growing up in a Hispanic household and being part of the Columbus Junction, Iowa, community is something Montiel takes great pride in.
“My hometown community is what has made me who I am today,” she says. “And one of my parents’ goals was always for us to end up in an even better spot than they are today. So being able to make them and my community proud is something that’s always been very important to me.”
Montiel’s journey to Central really began during her junior year of high school when she started exploring different colleges. As her senior year rolled around, she decided to give Central a look.
“When I came to Central for a visit they tailored the entire experience around me,” she says. “There was an interpreter for my parents, which was incredible, and that really helped solidify in my mind that this is where I wanted to be.”
Once Montiel arrived on campus her leadership ability kicked into overdrive. “Ever since my first year at Central, I’ve gotten the opportunity to demonstrate my leadership in many different roles,” she shares. “Some of those roles include being a student orientation leader, peer leader, RA and representative of the student support leadership team.”
“I’ve had lots of experiences at Central where I’ve been able to curate my skills and continue to grow as a leader and as a student, helping me to become a well-rounded person,” Montiel adds. “I’ve run for student body president. I’ve been president of OLAS, and I believe all of this has been made possible from being part of a smaller campus where students have these types of opportunities.”
Montiel also joined the Alliance of Underrepresented People as an executive member in her final year on campus.
“This organization is fairly new to campus,” she says. “Its goal is to empower underrepresented students and give a voice to those who might not be able to speak up in front of other groups. I’ve been able to create so many connections with students and faculty members, as well as staff. It has really been a changing point in my educational career.”
Being involved in so many different facets of campus life has also helped Montiel in the classroom and majoring in communications has been a natural fit.
“The communications major has really helped me strengthen my everyday skills, as well as my professional skills,” she explains. “I’ve been able to explore a lot of areas of creativity that I have in many different courses. Some of them helped me with other class work, while others have helped me in terms of giving presentations, formal writing and giving me the confidence I need when speaking to people I’m not familiar with.”
As a junior, Montiel participated in the Chicago Semester Program, where she interned at World Relief. Here, she worked as a caseworker for the asylum project.
“I was working directly with families seeking asylum in Chicago,” she says. “It was a great learning experience for me and one that has left a lasting impact.”
It’s not lost on Montiel that so many of these incredible opportunities that she’s been able to take advantage of are due in large part to the generous donors here at Central.
“I’m tremendously grateful for them,” she shares. “I can’t thank them enough for all their support, financially, but also just the way they have invested in my future. And thanks to them, I am graduating debt free!”
Montiel’s closing advice for prospective students is this: “Seek out experiences that validate your experiences,” she says. “For me, gaining those experiences of leadership and meeting new people, talking to my professors and making friends along the way, all of those things have led me to where I am today. And I wouldn’t be the person I am without them.”