Juan Arguello, the second-year dean at Lawrence University, supports sophomores and transfer students by connecting them with important resources throughout the year.

Arguello, originally from Oshkosh, attended a liberal arts university and is a big proponent of the liberal arts education. When the opportunity came to work at Lawrence, the Chicago attorney jumped at the chance for a career change, anticipating his skills would be useful in advocacy and communication. 

“I really wanted to work in a job where I could advocate for people and listen to them,” Arguello said. “As a first-gen student, I didn’t have a lot of additional guidance and had to spend a lot of time on my own getting answers. I wanted to help students and help them accomplish their goals.” 

At Lawrence, Arguello spends his days working with colleagues, collaborating with committees doing student-focused work, and addressing issues that students are facing. He also meets one-on-one with students by appointment and works on programming to help transfer and second-year students on their Lawrence journey. His days never look the same, with many aspects of the job overlapping at different hours. 

“The students are my clients, in that I want to make myself available to them and reassure them that I am there to help as best as I can,” he said. 

Arguello believes that the sophomore year in college is a pivotal time in one’s education. Historically in higher education, he said, sophomores have not been provided with enough programming or guidance. They have been expected to find answers on their own. Arguello combats this with programming and meetings to answer questions and provide support to students, all with an eye on getting them to graduation.  

“The second year is full of academic challenges, while also finding out what you are passionate about,” he said. “I can help them navigate that. I want to teach them self-advocacy because that is something that is not taught generally in schools before university.” 

In addition to his work with second-year students, Arguello is involved with transfer students, helping to guide their transition to a new school. This year, he was able to call each transfer student individually to introduce himself, share his role, and offer guidance into the new year. He also provided programming in the fall so transfer students could connect with each other and meet staff members with answers to their questions. 

“We try to create new opportunities for them to engage with each other and engage across the university,” Arguello said. “That is something I am hoping to build upon.” 

Arguello works closely with the Office of Student Life as well as First-year Dean Kristi Koshuta on first-generation initiatives, offering extra support to those who are unfamiliar with the college experience. They also work to create stronger connections between first- and second-year students so they can offer support to each other.

 A retreat to Björklunden during Winter Term provided the space and opportunity for students to make connections and get to know each other across class years. Arguello also helped plan an alternative spring break at Björklunden, designed to provide further opportunities for the classes to come together. 

Arguello came to Lawrence last year after five years of work as an attorney for a Chicago law firm. He also worked at a Chicago nonprofit organization, where he provided removal defense to detained immigrants before the Chicago Immigration Court and the Board of Immigration Appeals. Prior to law school, Arguello served in the United States Army and the Illinois National Guard as an infantry non-commissioned officer.  He holds a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from DePaul University.

Arguello is looking forward to continuing to better the experiences of sophomores at Lawrence, providing support and connecting them to the necessary resources for success. For him, working with second-year students is an ethical responsibility to serve each student and teach them skills for success, both at and beyond Lawrence. 

“It’s a process,” he said. “My role is to help them along with the process.”