Michael Oliveros


Michael Oliveros (University of Illinois Chicago)

Michael Oliveros (they/them), a genderqueer, first-generation Filipino American student cites the diversity of Chicago as a key part of their college experience.

“Being in such a densely populated area with people from all different backgrounds has helped me build connections between what I’m learning in my classes and how that directly manifests in the relationships that I build with my community.”

Oliveros is a working student who plans to continue their job as a patient care technician (PCT) after graduation, continuing to help Chicagoans as they prepare to apply for med school.

Oliveros also finds fulfillment in creating art with other Chicago students outside of their time at work and school.

“For me, that’s through poetry events, participating in storytelling workshops, or simply learning from activists and organizers about the needs of the community. Both sides – the creative and the clinical – might appear juxtaposed at first glance: but, in reality, I’m hoping that through both paths I can take time to listen to the stories of the people around me, and create spaces where we can imagine what our futures can hold together. “

Their decision to move from their small suburb, deeper into the city, was fueled by a desire to be immersed in the diversity that Chicago offers.

“I personally enjoy the fast-paced nature of city life (such as running to catch the bus, crowding into train cars) but more importantly, I wanted to live in a place that is fertile with the opportunity to meet different people and learn from different cultures that I otherwise wouldn’t have if I remained stationed in the suburbs.”

“Chicago is a demanding city, both emotionally and environmentally. Chicago’s a place that teaches you how to remain calm in the chaos: both within and outside academic settings, this city has forced me to adapt to my environment and has taught me how to be flexible under stress. But the more you give to Chicago, the more Chicago gives back. Yes, Chicago is a place where you can find success, but more importantly, this city is rich with opportunities to create communities and make meaningful changes that last: you’ve just got to look for it.”