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2023 - Elizabeth Herrera: Paying it Forward as an Academic Advisor at Elgin Community College

Tags: Academics | Staff Profile
Published 03/23/2023
Elizabeth Herrera, academic advisor

Elizabeth Herrera, academic advisor

I am a first-generation college student. None of my teachers or counselors ever mentioned college to me in high school. My dad did, but he couldn’t help me figure out where to start. If it weren’t for being in the right place at the right time and having at least one person expect college from me, the process for me would have been different. I walked into my high school’s study hall, which a Latino staff member managed. That day, he had an admissions advisor from our local community college help us fill out an admissions application. I didn’t know about the SAT/ACT, but a few weeks later, the college contacted me to take placement tests. From this moment forward, I was on my way to a college education.

My community college experience was like many students attending Elgin Community College. I am one of 8 children, so I had to work full-time and attend school part-time to help my family with expenses. I met with academic advising, who provided a degree evaluation of all the classes I needed to transfer toward a bachelor’s degree. Having a bachelor’s degree seemed so far away, but I connected with my advisor several times to ensure the transfer goal was still possible. Each time I met with them, I saw myself getting more involved in the process and closer to the finish line. I would think, “Is this really happening, and will I soon be on my way to a university?” As a first-generation college student, my map was my connection with my advisor. Each semester the path would get less foggy, and I would see a clearer picture of my destination.

Now, I have come full circle - I am an academic advisor at ECC! I chose this path to help students in a similar situation make it to their destination. I’ve worked for many institutions, and ECC is a one-of-a-kind. We are here to help you succeed from the moment you walk through our doors all the way to graduation. For many of us, serving students at ECC is not just a job but a privilege. In academic advising, we see first-generation, undecided, working adult, transfer, undocumented, part-time, full-time, veteran, and many other types of students. All students are on different paths to accomplishing a goal, and each is assigned an academic advisor to help light their way.

Our academic advisors tailor our approach to meet your learning style - developmental, appreciative, prescriptive, etc. We help you build a connection between your education and your life. We listen to your dreams and help you design a path to get there. We collaborate with other departments, such as career services, tutoring, wellness, TRiO, financial aid, and student life, along with faculty, to help you each step of the way.

As a student at ECC, connecting with your academic advisor is essential. Having a connection gives you access and support to charter the seemingly unknown waters and map a clear destination.

Remember that many of us were once on a similar boat, and we want to make this ride as clear as possible for you. Come and experience ECC to see why it’s a one-of-a-kind institution.

Elizabeth Herrera, academic advisor


Learn more about ECC at the annual Experience ECC event on Wednesday, April 5. Visit for more information.