Banner Bearer to Continue Life Devoted to Service

by ABBY TOMLINSON

November 22, 2010

Joncarlo Iyescas plans to devote his life to helping others. After graduation, he and his wife will join the Peace Corps in hopes to give back some of the good they believe they are blessed with.

Iyescas will graduate in December 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in University Studies, granted by Texas Tech's University College. University studies is a unique degree program because it allows students to study three areas of concentration rather than a major and a minor. Iyescas chose to combine architecture, business administration and Spanish.

"I was interested in the BUS because it gives you three concentrations, of course, and it allows you to expand your mind through different areas. With another degree, you wouldn't have that ability," Iyescas said. "Architecture has always been a passion of mine, and then business administration, and then Spanish, of course, because of my background. My common goal, related to all three, is to join the Peace Corps, and then move into something non-profit."

Originally, Iyescas chose to attend the University of Texas at Arlington for his bachelor's degree but later transferred to Texas Tech University, citing the student body and atmosphere of Tech as reasons for the University's appeal.

"I've always heard good things about Tech and my older brother got his master's degree here, and my younger brother just graduated from here, so it is something that my parents always encouraged me to do," Iyescas described. "I came to a crossroads when I wasn't happy at my previous university, so I made the decision."

After he made the change to Texas Tech, Iyescas was concerned that he would lose some of the credits he earned because he also wanted to change his major from architecture to another area of study. His advisor suggested that he pursue university studies because he could combine his interest in architecture with other areas of interest to form an individualized degree program, and he would not lose any of the credits he already had.

"University studies combines three areas you're interested in and lets them work toward a common goal," Iyescas explained. He said that the concentration areas he chose will be perfect for his future career in the non-profit sector, but he plans to join the Peace Corps first. He and his wife, Leah hope to volunteer somewhere in Latin America, but they understand that they could be stationed anywhere, and are happy to go where they are needed most.

"The Peace Corps has always been an interest of mine. I'm Nicaraguan, so I've always wanted to give something back, and Nicaragua is the second-poorest country in all of Latin America," Iyescas said. "Seeing the struggles my parents went through moving from there to the United States... seeing all of the opportunities they worked to give me, it gives me ambition to give something back, whether it's to Nicaragua or another country."

Many of Iyescas's admirable ambitions seem to reflect the influence of his parents, who immigrated to the United States from Nicaragua before he was born. At the time, a civil war raged in Nicaragua and many residents were forced to flee because dangerous conditions threatened their lives. Iyescas's parents brought his older brother, who was only two years old at the time, to the United States in search of a more peaceful and prosperous life.

Both of his parents attended college in Nicaragua but were forced to postpone their educations when they moved. The loss of their own opportunity turned into enhanced opportunities for their three sons; they encouraged each to work toward a college degree with the knowledge that an education could open doors for them in the future.
Iyescas's parents are proud of his educational accomplishments.

"My parents are proud. College was something that they pushed, but I think that if they saw it in our heart that college wasn't for us, they would support us in anything we wanted to do. But, college was a priority for them. Education is important to them," Iyescas recalled.
An education is not the only thing that Iyescas found in Lubbock, Texas. He also met his wife who works as a nurse in the community. After meeting through some mutual friends, they married on July 10, 2010.

"Marriage has been awesome. I love it - no complaints," Iyescas said, smiling.

Luckily, Iyescas and his wife share a passion for helping those in need; she also plans to join the Peace Corps so they can be stationed together. With his background and fluency in the Spanish language, they are good candidates for an assignment in Latin America, but no matter where they go, Iyescas plans to earn his master's degree simultaneously through the Master's International program that is a part of the Peace Corps.

Referring to his spontaneous approach to life, Iyescas said he and his wife do not have a clear plan after they finish their term with the Corps.

"The Peace Corps is a two year commitment. After that, the sky's the limit. I could do another term with them or work within the Peace Corps doing something else. There's so many options. Just the life experience is beneficial, but there are other benefits after," Iyescas said.

As with every adventure, with the benefits come the concerns. Because Corps volunteers are often stationed in foreign countries, safety is a priority for the organization, but there is always the possibility of encountering some kind of danger.

"As much as they say that it is going to be safe, and that they take safety very seriously, you always have that in the back of your mind," Iyescas said. "I wouldn't really care if something happened to me, but if something happened to my wife - that would kill me. There would have been a lot less worries if I was going by myself, but that won't stop us from doing it together."

Iyescas is not waiting for the Peace Corps to start giving back. He already volunteers and works for the local branch of Communities in Schools (CIS), a national non-profit organization. As a volunteer, he mentors at-risk children as part of an intervention or prevention plan. He said that it is his job to help them make good choices in school and in life. His desire is to guide them to those choices and help them understand that there are good choices available to them, like education. His work with CIS involves keeping files up-to-date and sorting through paperwork about each of the students with whom the organization works.

Because he has the highest grade point average in his graduating class, Iyescas will be the Bachelor of University Studies banner bearer for the University College during December's commencement ceremony. He said that he completed the formal process required to become the banner bearer recently and that he is honored to be the student chosen for the position.

The honor is even greater because he will be the first banner bearer for the BUS within the University College. The College recently inherited the degree from the Office of the Provost and plans to expand it to be offered online and at multiple off-campus sites beginning in Spring 2011.

Iyescas has a good heart, a strong intellect and a passion for service; there is no doubt he will be an asset to any organization he joins. He is most certainly an asset to Texas Tech University and the University College.

"I made the decision to come to Tech and I've never regretted it," Iyescas said of the University from which he will soon graduate.

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