2019 Graduate Profiles
It’s remarkable to look back and realize a single conversation changed your life. For Robert Navarro, talking with Governors State University Academic Advisor Jennifer Taylor set him on a path full of opportunities that are leading him to success.
As Navarro prepares to graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting in May, he recently reflected on that critical meeting with Taylor, as well as the advantages of attending a university where professors know your name.
“It’s a small school, which helped me get into leadership positions and to get my foot in the door in student organizations,” he said.
Taylor was among the first to extend a hand to Navarro, who had already attended two other colleges, including Dual Degree Partner Moraine Valley Community College. He arrived at GSU determined to become an auditor and shared his vision with his GSU academic advisor.
“Jennifer was very welcoming and genuine,” he said. “I could tell she cared about me and my plans, and that was after talking with me for just for a couple of minutes,” Navarro said.
There were plenty of others who believed in him, too.
During his first semester, he needed a letter of recommendation and decided to ask a business law instructor, Assistant Professor Alice Keane who was happy to provide it.
A couple of months later, Associate Professor David Green emailed him about GSU’s plan to nominate him to the Illinois CPA Society’s Student Ambassador Program.
Navarro learned later that Keane had made the recommendation. As a result, he was among the first GSU students to be appointed by the selective society.
“That snowballed into more things,” Navarro said. Among them was the opportunity to attend the society’s Mary T. Washington Wylie Internship Preparation Program, a three-day workshop that gave him a chance to network with professional accountants and get job-search tips.
At GSU, Navarro was responsible for promoting the society’s membership to fellow students, which meant making classroom presentations and hosting special events on campus.
Most importantly, being an ambassador helped prepare him for his career in ways he never expected.
“I wasn’t looking for a leadership position, but it definitely helped me grow,” Navarro said. “Before I became an ambassador, I was worried because I wasn’t comfortable with public speaking, but it was required. I knew I had to become comfortable with getting out of my comfort zone.”
When he was seeking an internship, GSU Career Services directed him to an opportunity at Mi-Jack Products, an industrial crane manufacturer based in Hazel Crest that frequently employs GSU College of Business students.
Navarro worked with a construction equipment firm in Panama and found his ability to read Spanish came in handy.
After the internship ended, Navarro continued to work at Mi-Jack while finishing up his degree, and he plans to return part-time after graduation.
But his stay will be short. In August, Navarro will head to the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, where he will be one of four students studying on a full scholarship for the master’s program in accounting.
Navarro knows his experience at GSU was instrumental to helping him forge his path to become an auditor in a way other schools could not. He’s grateful.
“I don’t think I could’ve experienced this level of success anywhere else.”