Growing up on the south side of Chicago inspired John Cruz-Barcenas to get involved in public service to make a difference in his community.

“Over the years, I have educated myself and seen more and more first-hand the issues that plague people around the world and especially in my hometown,” said Cruz-Barcenas. “I realized that one of the main ways to help out the most vulnerable is through legislation and advocating for widespread policy change that doesn’t forget the less fortunate.”

Cruz-Barcenas’ first step into public service was serving as the neighborhood services advocate for the 33rd Ward Alderman’s Office, Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez. In his role, he’s involved in a multitude of projects to ensure the 33rd Ward neighbors stay happy. He helps answer community members’ requests, responds to questions regarding policies, assists the ward superintendent with streets and sanitation work, and conducts outreach and staffing efforts for community events.

“The thing I enjoy most about my internship is building relationships with and meeting people who are passionate about the same issues that I’m passionate about. The most rewarding part is knowing that I played a part, no matter how small, in helping our neighbors with something that gives them one less thing to worry about during these trying times.”

Cruz-Barcenas decided to major in mechanical engineering because it perfectly melds his love for science, math and helping the community. He hopes his degree will propel him forward in his career and make a positive impact on the world.

“My dream job is to be an alderman in Chicago and ensure that the voices of those who have been long ignored are finally heard and action is taken to fulfill their demands.”

Cruz-Barcenas explained he chose to attend MSOE because “on top of being blessed with a great scholarship, it was the best fit that allowed me to continue my baseball career while still pursuing a degree from one of the best schools in the nation for mechanical engineering.”

In addition to being an active community member in Chicago, Cruz-Barcenas can be seen across MSOE’s campus involved in groups, teams and events. He is a member of MSOE’s baseball team, the MSOE Student Food Pantry, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and is a Wisconsin Grant Ambassador. He also recently helped start an MSOE chapter of Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA), which is set to be official beginning fall 2021. He invites students interested in joining the group to email him at for more information.

Outside of class, work and baseball, he enjoys reading, going to White Sox games, hanging out and adventuring with friends, watching horror movies and trying new restaurants in the city.