VP works to overcome obstacles

Vice President of UPC Jose Figueroa-Cifuentes sits in his office discussing events with his University Program Council members.

Students can find vice president of University Program Council Jose Figueroa-Cifuentes every Monday at 3:30 p.m. conducting the weekly UPC meeting reminding his members of the things they can accomplish with hard work and determination.

Figueroa-Cifuentes said if someone would have told him he would be vice president of UPC, he would not have believed them.

Figueroa-Cifuentes said he was born in the U.S. before moving with his family to Guatemala. He moved back to the U.S. when he was around 4-years-old.

He lived in Russellville, Alabama before coming to UNA to pursue collegiate dreams. Figueroa-Cifuentes said his family came to the U.S. not knowing the language or culture. His family struggled to give him every opportunity he has.

He said he learned his work ethic from his mom and does everything he can to make her proud.

“My mom and older sisters have always been there motivating me to move forward,” Figueroa-Cifuentes said. “Seeing my mom happy is my passion and motivation.”

Brittany Knight, live acts chair for UPC, said Figueroa-Cifuentes is a humble leader who listens and takes in everything around him.

“Jose is the perfect example of a leader who stands alongside the people working under him and not someone who simply commands others,” Knight said.

Figueroa-Cifuentes said he wants to take advantage of opportunities other members of his family did not receive.

“If my mom was given the chance to go to college in the U.S., I know she would be successful,” Figueoa-Cifuentes said. “Since she couldn’t go to college here because of prior obligations, I take every opportunity I get to apply for positions that I know I can handle.”

When Figueroa-Cifuentes started UNA, he joined the ROTC program in hopes of one day serving in active duty.

In fall 2013, Figueroa-Cifuentes tore the ligaments in his ankle and had to be put in a cast for eight months. After recovering from his ankle injury, he had to have surgery on his back.

“I just want to serve active duty,” Figueroa-Cifuentes said. “Because of my back surgery, I was medically disqualified, so I couldn’t do the physical fitness test.”

Despite his hardships, Figueroa-Cifuentes continued to persevere. He said he wants to stay at UNA and soon be back in the ROTC program.

“Ideally, I still want to serve in the military,” Figueroa-Cifuentes said.

Figueroa-Cifuentes said backup plans are everything to him. He tells all of his colleagues there is always another way around the original plan.

“If things don’t work out, don’t freak out,” Figueroa-Cifuentes said. “You just have to find a solution to get back on track.”

Figueroa-Cifuentes said he wants to push others to accomplish their highest goals.

“I push others to do more than me and remind them if I can do it, then they can do better,” Figueroa-Cifuentes said.

Jason Sparks, vice president of Senate, said Figueroa-Cifuentes is open minded and easy to work with.

“We both bounce ideas off of each other and want to stay present in what SGA is doing and not just focus on what our respective branches are doing,” Sparks said. “I am confident in the goals Jose has set out to accomplish and believe that this year will be a great one under his leadership.”

Figueoa-Cifuentes also serves as vice president of the Delta Chi fraternity.

Figueroa-Cifuentes said he plans to continue his education at UNA and get his master’s degree. He is still exploring his options of what he plans to get his master’s degree in.