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Bradley Hilltopics

Winter 2011 • Volume 17, Issue 1  

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Playing in peoria

Playing in peoria

Jay Leno visited with mechanical engineering students and their professor, Dr. MARTY MORRIS '77 MSME '79, before performing in the Renaissance Coliseum on October 16 as part of Homecoming. An avid car collector, Leno examined and autographed two of the students' car designs — a formula racecar and a lightweight urban vehicle. "I knew he was interested in cars and motorcycles, so I was excited about the opportunity for us to show him what we were doing with our senior projects," Morris said. "He asked some very good questions about design features on the cars we had built last year, and he heard good answers." Leno concluded his performance by praising Bradley's engineering students.



Marine/BU student attends White House Summit


THOMAS AGUILAR '12 was invited to the White House on October 8 as one of only eight honor students to participate in the White House Summit on Community Colleges, hosted by Dr. Jill Biden. The Summit, which highlighted the important role of community colleges in American education, was part of President Barack Obama's education initiative.

Aguilar, 28, was invited to participate, in part, because of his unique understanding of the role of a community college education. Before enrolling at Bradley as a manufacturing engineering major in August 2010, Aguilar attended Illinois Central College in East Peoria for three years. Earlier, he served in the Marine Corps, completing three deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq.

THOMAS AGUILAR '12 met Dr. Jill Biden, adjunct professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College and wife of Vice President Joe Biden, at the White House Summit on Community Colleges that she hosted on October 8. Aguilar is a Marine veteran and former Illinois Central College student from Peoria.

During the Summit, Aguilar took part in a workshop about veterans in education, in which he discussed the role of community colleges and education options for veterans with Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"There's a stigma in the military that soldiers aren't good enough for college — that this is all they can do," Aguilar said. To overcome this, Aguilar and other workshop participants advocated a stronger partnership among the numerous organizations that aid veterans. "I left the Summit feeling optimistic that changes will be made," he said.

As the first member of his family to attend college, Aguilar had a difficult time achieving the confidence he needed to succeed. "I had a lot of anxiety about starting school," he said. "I wasn't sure if it was something I could do." The ICC faculty helped him reach the academic level he needed to pursue an engineering degree. "I was at such a low level, especially for the engineering requirements," he said, "and ICC caught me up to speed in one year." Aguilar also became more involved in ICC activities, becoming an international vice president of Phi Theta Kappa, the largest honor society in higher education.

While at ICC, Aguilar helped coordinate Walk Sudan, a national movement that has raised $92,000 to build an education center in Panyijiar County in Southern Sudan, honoring the Lost Boys, child soldiers drafted during Sudan's war. The organization has already received more than 50,000 books to be donated to the library. Aguilar currently serves as a student representative on Bradley's Industrial Advisory Council and is vice president of Bradley's chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.

"I've been given so much," he said. "I want to give back."