Barry McNamara  |   Published May 26, 2016

Distributor of involvement

Velez ’17 holds key leadership roles on campus
  • Neriangela “Neddy” Velez ’17 “embodies the best values of the Monmouth College experience,” according to Monmouth College President Clarence R. Wyatt.
Monmouth College student Neriangela “Neddy” Velez ’17 is an exemplar of campus involvement.

The Chicago resident, who is a member of more than 10 student organizations, has emerged as one of the College’s student leaders. That led her to be named the College’s 2015-16 Student Leader of the Year and the Outstanding Intercultural Life Leader. She also received the Brad Wefenstette Prize for Social Justice.

“From the first time I met Neddy, she has impressed me with her maturity, sense of responsibility for herself and others, and for her courage,” said Monmouth College President Clarence R. Wyatt. “Neddy embodies the best values of the Monmouth College experience – she lives the idea of the liberating arts in everything that she does.”

Velez said that she sees involvement as an opportunity to make campus life better for everyone.

“I strive for inclusivity in any group I’m a part of,” she said. “I believe that as a group we can work together to achieve something great…There are lots of great things going on at Monmouth. I want to help continue to make them even better. It’s a good campus, but we can always be better.”

And members of the Monmouth community say that Velez’s efforts have helped the College in numerous ways.

“Neriangela is an inspiration to so many around her,” said Stephanie Kinkaid, assistant director the College’s Wackerle Career and Leadership Center. “She is compassionate, kind and generous. Most importantly, others know she is a careful decision-maker who wants to change the world for the better.”

Velez said she honed her leadership skills by attending conferences sponsored by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute. She said those two conferences exposed her to “opportunities for other students to grow and succeed on campus.”

During the 2015-16 school year, Velez was head resident in Liedman Hall, where her work was a shining example of her leadership skills.

“I have an amazing team, and we have so many great plans for next year,” she said. “Within Liedman, inclusivity and diversity have been implemented, and we want to make it even better for next year. We encourage the new students to get involved in organizations that are helping others.”

During her three years at Monmouth, Velez has also help start campus organizations. The most recent: A People’s Change, a group that grew from the Women of Change organization that Velez founded on campus.

“We introduce local grade-school students to five key concepts (diversity, empowerment, equity, self-love and self-identity) that they can carry with them for life,” she said.

About 15-20 Monmouth students attended the group’s weekly meetings in 2015-16, and Velez said she plans to extend the organization to high school students in 2016-17.

Velez, who is a business administration and wellness administration major, is also a Writing Center tutor and serves as the center’s student administrator; is a member of Alpha Xi Delta women’s fraternity, of which she is academic achievement chair; interned with Special Olympics; serves as a Scot Ambassador; and is a mentor for the College’s Bridge program for new students.

When it comes to mentors, Velez says she has had her share, helping her rise from a frustrated grade-schooler in Chicago to a first-generation college success story. But she credits one role model above the rest.

“I’ve been able to do all of this because of my mother (Luz Velez) and all her hard work,” she said.
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