"A native of Spain with a diverse global background, Jelena Sanchez quickly felt a strong connection to Naperville’s vibrant community and landscape upon moving here in 1996. With a Ph.D. in Hispanic Studies from the University of Illinois, Jelena joined the faculty at North Central College in 2007. As Assistant Professor of Spanish, she creates high-impact educational opportunities to expand global and environmental competency both in Naperville and internationally. Her course “Green Spain,” is a top-rated two-week study abroad experience where students are introduced to Naperville’s innovative environmental and sustainability initiatives before traveling abroad to explore Spain's leadership in European green power production.
Other significant contributions she has made to the Naperville campus community are the highly anticipated annual Flamenco Festival, the Latino Film Festival, and the Bilingual Professional Career Fair. She has successfully integrated community engagement with Spanish coursework in meaningful ways, particularly to create service opportunities in health clinics, shelters, and elementary schools; and assistance in translation and interpretation, outreach, internships, and networking.
A tireless advocate for her students and a dedicated mentor to Latina students in particular, Jelena has created the Latina Leadership Scholarship Fund at North Central College to encourage and reward young women who aspire to become community leaders. She is a proud sponsor of the public speaking movement Latina Talks and Young Latina Talks. Jelena Sánchez is also an author in Volume IV of the Today’s Inspired Latina book series, highlighting stories of inspiration, hope, and resilience."
Nominated by Steve Schultz