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From Students to Employees, University Embraces Multiculturalism

Gilberto Lara

ARAMARK employee recieves U.S. citizenship

CHICAGO, IL (January 13, 2009) – With a student body that hails from 40 states and nearly 30 countries across the globe, multiculturalism is at the heart of the North Park educational experience. But it is also something that characterizes the University’s faculty, staff, and institutional partners.

Gilberto Lara oversees campus dining with North Park’s longtime food service provider, ARAMARK. He has served as the University’s food service director for four years, and has been with the company for nearly 20.

Originally from Mexico City, Lara describes how his family moved to the United States “looking for a better life” and became permanent legal residents in 1987. Now married to a Puerto Rican, he and his wife, Jacqueline, have two daughters, ages 12 and 15. Lara himself officially became a U.S. citizen on January 6, and is honored, he says, to truly call his new country home.

After working his way up the ranks with ARAMARK at different institutions and in different positions, Lara notes that transitioning into his current role at North Park “is the best career move I made.” What has he enjoyed the most about working on campus? “The people,” he emphasizes. “I feel very comfortable here. . . everyone—from senior staff to the faculty to the students—is very friendly.”

It is the word that all who know him would also use to describe Lara. ARAMARK Senior District Manager Scott Sieg’l has worked with Lara for nearly seven years. “He has a great attitude and always does what it takes to get the job done,” Sieg’l says. “You can see he loves the community.”

Lara was particularly moved during last Tuesday’s oath ceremony. “We were 82 people swearing for U.S. citizenship from 30 different countries,” he reflects. “I thought it was interesting and I felt very proud.”