Skip to Main Content

WM: Connections

Andre Aguilera ’25 has been kicking around a soccer ball for as long as he can remember, and his mom has been his biggest cheerleader—even when he decided to move 1,200 miles from his home in Naples, Florida, to continue playing.

Andre Aguilera

“Soccer brought me to Wabash,” Aguilera says. “I had a couple offers from other places. Wabash was a good academic choice and a good athletic choice. I visited and the culture here sold me.”

His mother motivated him to pursue college and to keep playing soccer. She immigrated to the U.S. from Bolivia when she was in her mid-20s, raised four kids, and started her own cleaning company.

“I grew up in a single-parent household. My mom would always take me and my siblings to and from practice,” says Aguilera. “After work, she would just be killing herself getting us to those places, and I owe it to her, all the sacrifices she has to make for us.

“We butt heads a lot,” he continues. “But I know she really wants the best for me. Anyone who knows her knows how much she loves her kids and has seen her work so hard to give us better futures.”

Aguilera recalls that when he was a child, his mother went out of her way to give work to young people who were new to the country as she once was and insisted that her children invite people to their home to eat. Even though his family didn’t have a lot, she instilled in him the importance of seeing the need in others.

“There was always an open spot at the table for any guest,” he says. “That’s something I try to incorporate myself— always think about others and what they might be going through.

“Sometimes I get flustered or frustrated at a game, but I try to take a step back and realize not everything is that deep, not everything is as serious as I might think it is. It gives me perspective.”

Wabash Soccer Head Coach Chris Keller says Aguilera has always been strong academically, but what stands out most is how he relates with people.

“He has the ability to connect with everybody,” Keller says. “Not just the best player or the popular guy or his group of friends, but even the guy at the tail end of the roster. He is a really likable guy. He’s always cognizant of how people are feeling.”

The political science major and economics minor has not decided on the exact career path he wants to pursue—perhaps working with a nonprofit organization in his home state—but he knows he wants to use the skills and connections he has gained at Wabash to help people.

“He realizes the opportunities Wabash has for him and he’s grabbing on to them,” Keller says. “Some kids say, ‘Where’s my job? Where are my alumni?’ He has sought them out himself.”

Aguilera was also one of the first students to receive the Paul “Robbie” Robinson Family Scholarship, established during the Giant Steps Campaign with preference given to first-generation college students.

Aguilera and his mother

Along with soccer, the junior is a member of La Alianza and served as a Wabash Liberal Arts Immersion Program (WLAIP) mentor last summer.

“WLAIP was a full-circle moment,” Aguilera says. “My WLAIP mentors felt super old. It’s crazy to think I’m now in their shoes. It was nice to be able to connect with young guys who might have gone through the same things that I went through when I first got here.”

As for Maria Elva, his mom, it’s hard to have him far from home but she knows Wabash is where he needs to be.

“Having my son at Wabash is a great privilege for me,” she says. “He has the great opportunity to play what he is most passionate about and at the same time be able to be a great student. Being Andre’s mom brings me great pride. I am proud of Andre, his charisma, and above all, his nobility.”