Preston Kendall, President, Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep
“A Long and Winding Road”: Excerpts from an interview with Rogerr Oliva
by John Geis
Rogerr’s (CRSM ’13 NIU ’19) journey to graduation from Northern Illinois University (NIU) involved enough twists, turns to discourage any driver. But Rogerr (yes, two Rs) is not like most. The course of his academic career belies his abilities, much less his persistence.
You wanted to go to NIU even before high school, so it worked out as planned…
[smiling] Not exactly. My grades at CRSM were unimpressive. The fact is, I drifted through my first two years at CRSM. In my Junior year, I began to realize that my friends were doing great things, and that motivated me. Thanks to the Counseling Department, I got a break and was accepted through NIU’s Chance Program. In my first year, I received the Chance Award for a high GPA.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
[laughing] Well, it’s more complicated than that. I then worked really hard to get the grades needed to enter NIU’s College of Business. But soon after getting accepted, I realized I didn’t fit. I was disheartened. I had “wasted” all this time, money, and effort. That’s when I got my second break. The director of the Operations Management and Information Systems Department recognized my abilities in “tech” and offered me a spot. So, I started over. It was a perfect fit. It took me six years, but here I am, full-time at Discover Financial, teaching people how to function within a software development framework. I guess sometimes it’s ok to not know what to do because that means there’s something exciting out there waiting for you.