‘To the crazy ones’


Francisco Sebastian and his partner at the masquerade themed Golden Gala and Alumni Awards Dinner on Oct 12.| Photo by Kristopher Gibson

Frannie Mendoza, Editor-in-Chief

Each year, a current student is awarded the Future Alumni Award at the Golden Gala and Alumni Awards ceremony hosted by NEIU and the Alumni Association. The Independent’s very own Francisco “Frankie” Sebastian was the recipient of this year’s award as an outstanding accounting major in the College of Business and Management, acknowledging the many ways he provides exceptional service to the NEIU community. 

In addition to being the school newspaper’s payroll manager, Francisco is the internal affairs officer in the Student Advisory Council (COBM-SAC) while also maintaining his position as treasurer for numerous COBM clubs: Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO), American Marketing Association (AMA), American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS), Accounting Associates and Investment Society. 

He helped the university identify cost efficiencies as a student representative on the NEIU Budget Taskforce. He also worked as administrative management for NEIU’s launch of the AARP’s Work for Yourself @50+ grant. The Etiquette Gala, Day of Service, NETT Day and International Business Conference are among the annual events in which he voluntarily holds an integral role organizing such events to enhance campus life for students.

During tax season, Francisco can be found spending his early Saturday mornings volunteering for Ladder Up, a community not-for-profit where he prepares tax filings for hardworking families. Last summer, he took on the position of chief financial officer for a NEIU student-led startup company called Plate Beacon which aims to solve local hunger by using technology to change the way people see and deal with excess food from the restaurant industry.

A brief yet endearing “Proud to be NEIU” video interview of Francisco was shown as an introduction before he went up to the stage and was handed the award by President Gloria J. Gibson. He began his acceptance speech by having the audience yell out various departments and pointed out that he strongly believes in collaboration and partnerships with other departments, “My business partner, she is interdisciplinary and she has taught me a lot about integrating various departments.” 

After thanking President Gibson for the differences that she already made in the NEIU community, Francisco wrapped up his speech with his own rendition of a popular quote by Steve Jobs from Apple’s Think Different campaign. 

“Before I leave, this is to the crazy ones, to the misfits, to the rebels, the troublemakers. To the round pegs in the square holes. To the ones who see things differently. We are not fond of rules and we have no respect for the status quo…I shouldn’t say that here, sorry! …You may quote us, disagree with us, glorify or vilify us, but the only thing you cannot do is ignore us, as students, because we change things. We push the human race forward and while some may see us as the crazy ones, we see geniuses…all students here are geniuses…because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, they are the ones who do. My partner as well as my two colleagues that I met here at NEIU, they have been doing that since day one, since I’ve met them. And us, as students, we are going to make a difference, we are geniuses in our own way and NEIU will be widely known throughout the whole state. Yes, my name is Francisco Sebastian.” 

The Future Alumni Award was established to give campus divisions, academic departments and colleges the opportunity to recognize one student for outstanding service to NEIU and demonstrates potential as an alumni leader. It is based on the premise that students who are highly involved in service efforts will continue their commitment to service after graduation.