Dr. Eva Serrano Named Grand Marshal of Aurora's 2016 Fiestas Patrias Parade

Jenette Sturges
Updated 9/6/2016 9:04 AM

AURORA, IL - Aurora University professor and community advocate, Dr. Eva Serrano, has been named the Grand Marshal of the 2016 Fiestas Patrias Parade hosted by the Aurora Hispanic Heritage Advisory Board. She will lead the annual parade on Sunday, September 11 at 11 a.m. in downtown Aurora.

Mayor Tom Weisner and the Aurora City Council will recognize Dr. Serrano at the Committee of the Whole Meeting on Tuesday, September 6 at 5 p.m. in Aurora City Hall, 44 E. Downer Pl.

A special reception in her honor will be held immediately following the recognition, beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the Art and History Center, 20 E. Downer Pl. Both events are open to the public.

"Dr. Serrano is a builder of bridges within the greater Aurora community," said Dr. Ted Parge, Executive Vice President of Aurora University. "Her leadership in the recruitment of Latino students to Aurora University, her expertise in the classroom as a professor and her personal leadership in development and implementation of effective retention initiatives for Latino students is second to none."

Dream More

The child of parents from Mexico and Puerto Rico, Dr. Serrano's commitment to educational excellence was solidified when an instructor at Morton College encouraged her to "dream more"... and that she did.

Dr. Serrano received an Associate's Degree from Morton College, a Bachelor's Degree in Spanish from Mundelein College and her MBA from the University of Dallas. She then earned both an Ed.S. and her Doctoral Degree in Education from Northern Illinois University.

Dr. Serrano has also completed fellowships at Harvard University's JFK School of Government Executive Education Program, the University of Michigan's New Leadership Academy, the National Hispana Leadership Institute and the Center for Creative Leadership.

Her decision to continuously dream and do more has inspired countless students to do the same.

Campus Impact

An Associate Professor of Foreign Languages at Aurora University, Dr. Serrano has taught Elementary Spanish, Elementary French, Introduction to Latino Cultural Studies, Latina Writers, Latin American Civilization and Diversity in Curriculum, among many other courses. She also designed curriculum for an academic minor in Latin American and Latino Studies.

Dr. Serrano is also the Director of Aurora University's Latino Initiative and advisor of the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) at Aurora University. She has taken more than 300 students to leadership conferences throughout the country and assisted hundreds more in obtaining their postsecondary educational goals, many of whom have gone on to earn graduate degrees and hold key leadership positions in community organizations.

Notably, her efforts have been the catalyst for an increase in Latino undergraduate student enrollment at AU through an effective model of community outreach, family engagement, and academic and social integration. Latino student enrollment grew from 213 students in 2004 to 799 students in 2015, resulting in institutional eligibility for federal designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution.

Community Involvement

Dr. Serrano's work extends beyond the campus and into the community. She designed the Power Up Youth Leadership Conference, a one-day on-campus immersion experience where Aurora University college students develop and offer workshops to area high school youth on topics related to motivation, leadership, and college awareness.

Practicing what she encourages, Dr. Serrano dedicates countless hours beyond her professional duties to the Aurora community. She currently serves on the boards for 708 Community Mental Health and the Aurora Puerto Rican Cultural Council. She's also served on the boards for the Boy Scouts of America Des Plaines Valley Council and Voices for Illinois Children in Chicago, as well as previously serving as a guest columnist for Ultimas Noticias newspaper in Aurora.

Globally, Serrano has presented workshops on the success of Latino students in post-secondary educational institutions at conferences throughout the United States of America and in Madrid, Spain.

Well-Earned Honors

Dr. Serrano has been honored by students, peers and community organizations for her life-changing work.

On campus, she has received the Student Advisory of the Year Award multiple times and the Student Advocate Award.

In the community, she has been presented with the 2012 Aurora Hispanic Heritage Advisory Board's Pete Perez Award and the 2016 Boys II Men Phenomenal Woman of the Year Award, which was paired with the announcement of the new "Dr. Eva Serrano" College Student of the Year Award that will be presented annual to female college students who demonstrate Serrano's commitment to educational excellence and selfless service.

Now, she adds the 2016 Grand Marshal of Aurora's Fiestas Patrias Parade to the list of well-earned honors.

"Dr. Serrano's efforts have not gone unnoticed. There's a reason the students she mentors gravitate back to Aurora University. We are grateful," said Melissa Garcia, a sophomore Political Science and Spanish major at AU and a member of LASO.

Fiesta Patrias 2016

The Aurora Hispanic Heritage Advisory Board, in partnership with the City of Aurora, will present its annual Fiestas Patrias Festival and Parade on Saturday, September 10 and Sunday, September 11. Fiestas Patria celebrates the cultures, tastes and sounds of Mexico with food, a children's play area, and a variety of local, regional and national entertainers.

Fiestas Patrias takes place from 3 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10, and from noon to 9 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 11, at RiverEdge Park, 360 N. Broadway. Admission to the festival on Saturday, September 10 is $5 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and $10 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Children under 12 are free all day. Admission is free all day Sunday, September 11 for both children and adults.

The Fiestas Patrias Parade, led by Grand Marshal Dr. Eva Serrano, will precede Sunday's free celebration. The parade steps at 11 a.m from the corner of River St. and Benton St. It will travel east on Benton, north on Broadway and west on Downer Pl. The Reviewing Stand will be located near the corner of Downer and Stolp.

For more information, visit www.aurorahispanicheritage.com.