Meet the 2016 HACIA Scholarship & Education Foundation (HACIASEF) Scholarship Recipients

Every year HACIA Scholarship & Education Foundation (HACIASEF) awards up to $30,000 in scholarships to deserving students studying in the construction field. This year HACIASEF will reward $35,000 to seven college students. The scholarships will be presented to students at the 37th Annual Awards Banquet featuring Invited Keynote Speaker Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 at the Chicago Hilton & Towers.

The scholarships are made possible through ongoing individual, corporate and foundation donations. The 2016 Scholarships Recipients are:

Victoria Ortiz
Victoria Ortiz is a believer of embracing your passion for your job in order to succeed. Civil engineering is her passion and it is “Everything” to her. “Almost every aspect of a community involves civil engineers whether it is supplying clean water, disposals of water, transportation, structural, or construction,” said Otiz. “I want to be the one that helps innovate communities or redesign projects that have been completed in the past.”Before entering college, Victoria took engineering courses through “Project Lead the Way.” The courses involved structural analysis, AutoCAD, Revit and Hands on Testing. Since being involved in the program, her interests in pursuing a career in engineering intensified. Victoria is currently attending Bradley University and is pursuing a degree in Civil Engineering. She is also a member of “Engineers without Borders” which has given her the opportunity to work in a town consisting of 80 families in Nuevas Illusiones, Guatemala. Working with these communities has intensified her passion for a career in engineering.


Enrique De Jesus Aragon
Enrique De Jesus Aragon interest in construction sparked when his uncle, who is a Civil Engineer in Mexico, shared his knowledge and experiences of buildings and construction with him. “Being a part of a building project and seeing it come to life is really amazing,” said Aragon. Aragon is a junior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) majoring in Civil Engineering and focusing in both Construction Management and Structural Engineering. Aragon’s goal is to work as a Project Manager in a construction firm. He plans pursing a Master’s degree at UIUC with the Global Leaders in Construction Management program. In the summer of 2015, he worked as an Intern for the Village of Bensenville’s Department of Public Works as an Assistant Director/Engineer. He learned valuable skills that will prepare him for a career in construction, such as preparing cost estimates, surveying and taking yield calculations of the amount of asphalt used for road-resurfacing project. He also worked on a sidewalk project which included removing and replacing sidewalk.


Celdin Fajardo
When Celdin Fajardo took a class in high school that required learning the AutoCAD program, he realized that a career in architecture is what he wanted to pursue.
After graduating high school, he got accepted in to three Illinois universities, but had to settle for community college due to the high cost of tuition. In 2010, he received the opportunity to work as a graphic designer for Kap Graphics, whose clients included the Chicago Bulls, Chicago Fire and Chicago Blackhawks. This allowed him to save money to enroll himself in the University of Illinois to pursue his passion in Architecture.“Architecture is the right career for me since it requires creativity and thinking outside the box,” said Fajardo. “Architecture is a special overpass between imagination, reality, creativity and world of dreams.”


Nicole Loza
Growing up as a first generation American on her father’s side of the family, Nicole Loza has faced cultural barriers from a young age. This gave her a push to pursue a degree in a male dominated industry. She enrolled at the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign (UIUC) to study Civil and Environmental Engineering. Pursuing her journey to earn respect, she has experienced events that have molded her into a better person while meeting people and teachers that have challenged her mind. Loza’s motivation to excel in school work has lead her have a true passion for learning and hopes to use the opportunity to give back to society as much as she received.


Mario Roman
As a child Mario Roman knew he wanted to build houses when he grew up. He always found himself drawing basic square house with a triangle roof, a door, and a couple of windows. Every drawing he made, he would show it to his parents. “I would tell them that one day I will build that house for them,” Roman said. Following his dream has guided him to his unique journey,
Roman attended Lane Tech High School in Chicago and was fortunate enough to learn how to draft manually and eventually took Computer Aid Design (CAD) courses. During his journey, Roman encounter struggles, hardships and numerous obstacles. His financial difficulties limited his studies as he took classes at community college. But his hard work and determination in pursuing his dreams of becoming an architect allowed him to be in his fourth year as an Architecture student at the Illinois Institute of Technology. “My biggest motivators are my daughter and family; I feel thankful and grateful for the opportunity to being able to fulfill my dreams and aspiration and to defy the odds one step at a time in the face of adversity,” Roman said.


Karla Garcia
Karla Garcia was born and raised in Guatemala. After graduating from high School, she decided to become an architect and enrolled in the architecture program at San Carlos University in Guatemala. During her studies, her life took an unexpected turn when her parents moved to the United States. Leaving her whole life in Guatemala, she brought with her the dream of becoming an architect and willingness to succeed in life. After adapting to here new life in the USA. Garcia enrolled in San Antonio Community College in the fall of 2011, three years later she graduated from the Architecture program. She transferred to the Illinois Institute of Technology in the fall 2014. “Obstacles makes us stronger whenever we understand what their purpose is and when we learn how to overcome them,” Garcia said. “I know I generate my destiny and as successful architect, I want to be able to design it as well.”


Gerado Covarrbias
Gerado Covarrbias is mesmerized by how engineering improves everyday life. He is amazed at the way engineering simplifies everyday labor and wants to learn more about the technology behind it. Engineers make dreams become a reality and with that he wants to support his family doing what he loves. Since an early age, Gerardo has been curious about construction and their mechanisms. “The way people have made superstructures really impressed me and inspired me to try to become one of them,” said Covarrbias. “Most of his family members and friends are in the construction industry and they really love what they do.”
After high school he enrolled in the Civil Engineering program at Bradley University. He has dealt with financial obstacles and maintained two jobs while trying to succeed in a competitive and tough major such as Civil Engineering. Covarrbias is dedicated and knows his priorities, which has allow him to overcome the struggles and experiences he faced in life. He is grateful for the opportunities he has encountered at Bradly University and that will allow him to put everything into his education in order to succeed.