August 02, 2007

Hard work pays off for graduating business student

by Sun Min

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Amanda F. Camacho has never taken life for granted. The granddaughter of Puerto Rican immigrants, Amanda was raised by police officer parents in inner-city Chicago. Having pride in her Latina heritage, the 21-year-old grew up hearing stories of her grandfather, Felix Rodriguez, who came to this country with “just $11 in his pocket and a dream,” she said.

Rodriguez did not speak English when he arrived in the United States but he became a successful business owner and his dream was for his family to become educated. That dream has come true as Amanda prepares to graduate at the top of her class from the College of Business and Administration at Southern Illinois University Carbondale on Saturday, Aug. 4.

Her grandfather is back in Puerto Rico but Amanda’s parents, Frances and Victor Camacho, will be in the audience at the SIU Arena when Amanda receives her marketing degree. Amanda’s sister Vanessa is also an SIUC graduate.

“My parents always told us that education is the key to success,” Amanda said. “They worked so hard for us. I definitely got my work ethic from them.”

Victor Camacho worked as a truck driver and an air conditioning service worker before landing a job in law enforcement. Frances Camacho is the only Hispanic female lieutenant in the Chicago Police Department. Plus, she has been going to school “since I was born. My mom is now working on a doctorate,” Amanda said.

Taking after her immigrant grandfather, Amanda has big dreams of her own. “I want to become a CEO of a major corporation,” she said. “I feel like my grandfather’s dream came true so it’s in my blood to have my dream come true.”

Right now, Amanda works in marketing at a northern Illinois branch of Banco Popular, where her Spanish skills as well as her business acumen have come in handy.

At SIUC, Amanda was president of Alpha Lambda Delta, a national society that honors the academic excellence of freshman students. She also participated in The Achieve Program, which involves tutoring students with learning disabilities. In 2005, Amanda won the 2005 Multi-ethnic Academic Excellence Award.

Amanda said she could not have achieved all this on her own. In particular, Amanda credits INROADS Inc., an organization dedicated to preparing minority youth for leadership, and Michael L. Haywood, director of minority programs and undergraduate recruitment in the SIUC College of Business and Administration. “Michael is one of my biggest inspirations. He helped me choose my path and helped me stay focused. Having him rooting for me all this time has helped me stay on track,” Amanda said.

“Amanda is motivated to succeed, responsible and possesses some of the strongest leadership qualities that I have witnessed in my 20 years of working at Southern Illinois University,” Haywood said.

Amanda also praises business faculty for being “so approachable and helpful, especially Dr. Gordon Bruner, Dr. Maryon King, Dr. Lynette Knowles and Dr. John Summey,” she said.

Amanda may be finished with her studies but she is not finished with SIUC. “The College of Business has done so much for me. I want to give back someday and I will,” she said.

U.S. News & World Report ranks the SIUC College of Business and Administration as one of the top 100 public business schools nationwide.