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Giving Back to the Community Leads to Scholarship for ECE Student

By David Staudacher, UIC

ECE Student Wings ChipanaThere are a lot of benefits to giving back to the community. It can help you find friends, reach out to the community, learn new skills, and much more. For Wings Chipana, a senior in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), giving back to the Hispanic community changed his life and led to a small scholarship.

When he transferred to the ECE department, Chipana joined the UIC chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), which is a student organization geared toward changing lives by empowering the Hispanic community to realize its fullest potential and to impact the world through STEM awareness, access, support and development.

“I contributed to SHPE by helping the organization during outreach events,” said Chipana.

As a member of SHPE, the Peruvian-born student also found support, guidance, and motivation from a student mentor. Receiving the help motivated him to focus on giving back to the Hispanic community in the same way.

“I recently became the Mentorship Coordinator for the organization, and will be aiding new and transferring Latino students with their transition to the university,” said Chipana. “I pair them with older students who have experience on campus to help them. This connection helps students with any questions they have.”

Additional inspiration for giving back to the community came from a SHPE meeting, where he heard the regional president speak. His words and ideas had a major impact on him, and he is passionate about sharing them.

“Students from kindergarten to 12th grade keep thinking to themselves that it is not their role to go and seek a higher education, that it is impossible because they are Latinos, but this is not true,” said Chipana, as he looked back on the meeting. “It is our goal to nurture the next generation of Latino students to become engineers.”

Along with support from SHPE, Chipana was guided by ECE faculty members. Professor Wenjing Rao wrote a letter of recommendation for the scholarship and provided guidance and advice throughout the year.

“I had the pleasure of interacting with Wings both in and out of class, and can testify on his strong academic ability and contribution in mentoring Latino undergraduate students,” said Rao. “Wings is a highly intelligent student with strong curiosity and motivations to learn. He seems to be driven by very strong interests in computer engineering topics, and he is indeed a fast learner. His performance in my class has been outstanding (top 10 percent), and such a performance was clearly initiated from his will to learn, and eventually guaranteed by his devoted attitude and diligent working towards knowledge pursuing.”

As an active member of SHPE, Chipana gave back to the Latino community from the heart. For his efforts, he earned a scholarship for his contributions and leadership qualities. He has been awarded $500 through the 2016 Hilda Lopez-Arce Scholarship from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The Hilda Lopez-Arce Scholarship honors the UIC alumnus and employee, who worked tirelessly for Latino issues at the state and national levels.

Lopez-Arce’s contributions to UIC and her leadership are evident in her many accomplishments. She co-chaired the Latino Committee on University Affairs from 1987 to 1991. Under her leadership the Latino Recognition Banquet was created to highlight graduating Latino students and allow them to give thanks to their families and others for supporting them through their educational career. She also co-founded the Latino Parents’ Association, which began in 1989. Other key activities were developing professional development programs such as the Latino Mentorship Program and the Latina's Network. She co-chaired the Chancellor's Committee on the Status of Latinos from 1996 to1997 and served as chair of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship committee for several years.

Lopez-Arce’s was a consummate advocate and her contributions extended to civic organizations to help make a difference for Latinos throughout Illinois. She served as the president of the board of the Illinois Association of Hispanic State Employees and a board member of the Illinois Latino Council on Higher Education from 1990 to 2000.

Each year the Hilda López-Arce Scholarship Selection Committee in conjunction with the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Latinos and the Latina Network award a $500 scholarship to a student who exhibits leadership qualities and who has made contributions to the Latino community.

This year, we are proud to see Chipana receive the award as he embarks on more educational, professional and community endeavors with ECE and SHPE.

Learn more about SHPE and the opportunities it provides to engineering students at

Topic revision: r1 - 2016-07-18 - 14:53:07 - Main.davidst
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