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Juan Torres: Finding the Power in People
Whether cycling or campaigning, Juan Torres is a man in motion. Living his life by a schedule, the senior Humanities & Social Science major divides his time between Student Government Association proceedings, Cycling Team practice, and International Student Organization meetings.
If there’s a subject that can make the normally-driven Torres take pause, however, it’s that of helping others.
“I just like people,” said Torres. “I’ve always liked helping people, doing community service, and participating in philanthropy. Maybe it comes from how I enjoy studying people and the structure of society and government. I just like it. I can’t explain why.”
That passion has driven the Miami native since his arrival at Cumberland in the fall of 2008. Whether interning for Habitat for Humanity or advocating for his fellow students as vice president of CU’s Student Government Association, Torres has spent his college years immersed in Cumberland’s campus community.
It is that community that Torres credits in part for his successes thus far.
“CU is a small school, and if you want to excel in it, people will come to know you and help you really quickly,” said Torres. “That’s the great thing about Cumberland. If you have drive and initiative, the school will back you up.”
With the aid of faculty and staff like Coach Tim Hall, Executive Vice President Eddie Pawlawski, and International Student Advisor Pace Pope, Torres has come into his own as a student and organizer. Embracing leadership roles, the student athlete also acts as vice president of CU’s International Students Organization.
It is little surprise, then, that many of Torres’s favorite experiences at Cumberland have actually occurred outside of the classroom.
“My favorite experience happened last year, when I and other students initiated the Campaign for Innovation and Change for student government. There was so much involved,” said Torres. “I dived into it, and I thought, ‘Wow. This is like politics. I could do this for a living.’”
It is a future Torres may have already begun training for the head delegate for Cumberland’s 2011 delegation to the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislation. Through that experience and others such as his membership in the Tennessee Latin American Chamber of Commerce, Torres is gaining a better grasp of organizational politics every day.
Torres utilizes that knowledge not only as a member of multiple campus associations, but also as the project coordinator for the CU Cycling Team’s chapter of Ride for Reading, an organization that has proven to be one of the student athlete’s most rewarding activities.
“We’ve been able to touch many children’s lives through Ride for Reading. We give children books and advice, and we teach them about literacy,” said Torres. “It’s been a great experience to learn how to manage the project and bring people together for a common cause.”
Finding that common cause with other people is the thread that runs throughout Torres’s endeavors. Soon to be the first college graduate in his family, Torres hopes one day to use his education to help others.
“I want to work for a non-governmental organization doing aid or refugee work,” said Torres. “My dream job would be to work for the United Nations, trying to facilitate positive change or diplomacy.”
Having already proven his skills as a capable leader at Cumberland, Torres may just achieve that goal.