Unleash the benefits of experience.
"People will always need help.”
Israel Weber has been around the world, so now he’d like to make it a better place.
Originally from Kingfisher, Oklahoma, this Navy veteran served four years of active duty in Europe before transferring to Roosevelt from a small rural university near his hometown. “I was stationed in Italy for two years and in Greece for two years. It was a totally different mindset. You just have to hop right into it, open your mind to different points of view. Coming home was a big adjustment.”
Israel now resides in the Roscoe Village neighborhood. In May 2010 he earned his Liberal Studies degree from the Evelyn T. Stone College of Professional Studies, Chicago campus, graduating with an award for adult students from the Alpha Sigma Lambda honors society, and as a member of the Franklin Honor Society. This past summer, Israel accepted a job teaching English in Taiwan. Upon his return to the Chicago area, he plans to pursue a range of social work initiatives with underserved groups in the greater Chicago area, including students in low-income public schools and U.S. veterans. “I see myself working with anyone who needs help. I've been extremely blessed in my life, thanks to support from my family and friends – and sometimes even strangers. So many people don't get that support, so I feel an obligation to pass it on.”
Having been exposed to different cultures in Europe, rural Oklahoma began to feel very small. Israel sought out a quality institution in a big city to finish his undergraduate degree. “Not being from the area, I knew very little about Roosevelt before applying. I wanted a place with a strong history and good professors that paid attention to the students.” After a visit, he knew Roosevelt was right for him. “It’s not just the learning experience on campus; it’s also the life experiences the city offers. It’s a reason to get off your couch. You find amazing things around town, and that stuff adds up. You learn about people from different walks of life, and I've gained friends that I would have never met outside of a place like Roosevelt.”
He was particularly attracted to the Roosevelt Scholars Program. “They offered smaller classes with great professors that paid close attention to the students, and everything was very specialized and active. For instance, our class would go to the ArchiCenter to learn about the city's architecture and neighborhoods or visit the housing projects on the South Side. It elevated the level of learning. It was definitely different from my previous school.”
Israel loves working with youth. He volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters, as well as a work-study job in Roosevelt’s Office of Admission conducting tours for the University. “Non-profits would organize groups of high school and middle school kids to tour the campus. They’re brought in to learn about college, see what it’s like, how it really is – to get them motivated about higher education.” He was also a part-time tutor through AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination), a program in Chicago Public Schools that offers curriculum and tutorial support for students focused on attending college.
In an effort to help veterans like himself, he volunteered at the local VA hospital during his last semester. “Right now, it’s extremely busy every day of the week. There are lots of guys that served in Vietnam and Korea, so they’re getting older. Plus, with so many returning [from Iraq and Afghanistan], there will continue to be a huge need for help.”
In the long term, Israel dreams of a career involving international humanitarian aid. “While I think of Chicago as my ‘home base,’ I would love to get into foreign service, maybe work in an embassy or consulate. I would like a career that involves travel.”