Gaining a wider perspective

Aiden Cortinas’25 always knew he wanted to help people and give back to his community, but wasn’t sure how. As Aiden reflects on his time in Beloit, he realizes how his professors and small classes helped him to narrow down career options and grow into the person he wanted to be.

Aiden's perspective on the world broadened on Beloit's diverse campus. His passion for accessible mental health resources grew ... Aiden's perspective on the world broadened on Beloit's diverse campus. His passion for accessible mental health resources grew in his classes, and he hopes to purse a career in public health.

Growing up in the rural farming community of Sycamore, Illinois, Aiden knew he wanted to attend a college with smaller class sizes.

“I wanted something small where I could feel like myself and where I didn’t feel like a number,” says Aiden.

Diagnosed with autism at an early age, Aiden felt drawn towards the mental health field. Yet, with the looming effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, Aiden was uncertain where and how to achieve his dreams. While he had a relative who attended Beloit through 2016, Aiden was not familiar with the campus culture and the college’s uniqueness.

“My mom and I were visiting colleges and went, ‘Why not!’ It was beautiful and you could just tell it was a welcoming environment. The second time that I visited and got the opportunity to speak to more students, I could just tell right away that it would be a great environment,” he says.

“Beloit was actually the only school I wrote an essay for through all my college applications,” Aiden jokes. “It was also definitely the one I had the strongest calling to.”

An athlete who competes in both track and cross country, Aiden prioritized supportive coaches and positive athletic environments in his college search.

“One of the biggest things going for Beloit was that I wanted to participate in a sport. I didn’t have the greatest relationship with my coach in high school, so I wanted to find someone to rely on and talk to,” Aiden says.

After years of track and cross country experience at Beloit, Aiden says that he’s found the athletics community he was looking for. “Eleanor Waddle definitely has been a great backbone for me and a great person to lean on and talk to. At times she feels more like a big sister. Brian Bliese, my track head coach, feels like the grandfather who is full of wisdom. He’s very knowledgeable and kind,” says Aiden.

For Aiden, Beloit’s diversity played a role in shaping his outlook on the world. “I didn’t see a lot of diversity growing up. I guess when I came to Beloit, I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about people from different backgrounds. That was a big culture shock, but also something that I was able to accept right away. I feel like my moral values have always just been treating people with respect and getting to know people,” Aiden says.

“I wanted to get to know people and know their stories. Beloit allowed me to meet people from across the road. Some of the best friends I’ve made are from different countries and we’re still in contact today. Beloit has a high diversity rating, and you meet people you’d never think you’d have the chance to meet, and they end up being your best friends. It allows you to see the world from different perspectives and allows you to have many different ways of thinking.”

A psychology major, Aiden is passionate about accessible mental health resources, and plans to work within the field. “The people who helped me were heroes, and I want to be like that as well,” he stated. “I think in general, there’s a lack of mental health resources. Ron Watson’s Intro to Public Health class really did open my eyes. I think that helped shape my perspective of what I wanted to do. You don’t really hear about a lot of accessible mental health clinics and resources, even in Beloit, [and] that’s something that we really need a lot more of.”

Looking back, Aiden feels that he made the right decision in attending Beloit, and that it has helped him grow as both a student and individual. “I didn’t feel like another number in the classroom. I felt like I could be myself and grow into the person I wanted to be. I honestly don’t think, as many schools as there are, I could see myself anywhere else. I think Beloit is a special place to be.”

By: Tazia Machl'27
May 01, 2024

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