Inspiring grads: Karla Solis

Karla Solis (Photo: Josh Clark)
Karla Solis (Photo: Joshua Clark)

While working at her part-time job in Little Village, Karla Solis was robbed at gunpoint. The terrifying experience furthered her desire to help change the socioeconomic and cultural issues that face her neighborhood through her education at UIC.

“It was a little traumatizing,” Solis said. “It was just a few blocks away from where I live. It’s my community. It’s where I grew up. Working at that job, I made a lot of friends and connections with people. I knew that in order to give back and eventually be able to help, I could do that through school. I knew that I needed education, and UIC would give me that.”

Solis, a first-generation college student, is graduating this month after just 3.5 years of study, thanks to AP credits in high school and strong Spanish skills that resulted into a semester’s worth of credits.  

“I’m excited to be graduating UIC — especially to be graduating early — and what it means to my family to be the first person to graduate a four-year public college,” she said.

Solis has thrived at UIC with her dual major in gender and women’s studies and Latin American and Latino studies.

“I liked what I was learning and knew it would be something I’d be happy majoring in,” she said. “What I like about these majors is that they don’t necessarily lead to a one-way type of career.

“The gender and women’s studies department and Latin American and Latino studies department have a lot of resources. They are very supportive.”

Solis left her Little Village job shortly after the robbery but has maintained two part-time jobs while completing her studies, one with UIC Admissions and another at the Goddess and the Baker café.

“I’m almost working full time with both jobs together,” she said. “It is challenging. I’ve always had to work because I know that I have to help out at home and I have to support myself. I’ve always been independent in that sense.”

After commencement, she plans to continue working with UIC Admissions and find ways to give back to her neighborhood of Little Village.

“There are so many organizations that encompass both of my majors where I can use what I’ve learned at UIC and give back to help the people in the neighborhood or in the city,” she said.

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