Scoring goals on and off the field: Meet PNW 2022 graduate Ish Contreras

December 20, 2022

Ismael (Ish) Contreras, ’22, is graduating with a bachelor of science in Business Analytics from PNW’s College of Business.

Contreras is a first-generation student from Joliet, Illinois and participated five seasons for Pride men’s soccer, playing in over 50 games. He has served on both the Pride’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and on the national Division II SAAC as the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s (GLIAC) representative. Contreras was also named three times to the GLIAC All-Academic Team.

Contreras plans to start a career as a business analyst. He is also an ardent soccer coach, helping train youth players at the Hammond Sportsplex and the Dean and Barbara White Community Center in Merrillville.

Why did you choose your major?

“When I was being recruited, I liked Purdue Northwest because it was so close to home. I also chose it because of its Engineering program, specifically Computer Engineering. I did it for 1 ½ years, but I decided to switch majors in my fourth semester. I hated calculus. I would’ve had to take a third calculus class if I wanted to continue doing Computer Engineering.

What I liked about Business Analytics is that I would be done with math and be able to focus on work with different software and programming, which I like. I’m not sure why, but it’s so interesting to type in a couple of numbers, commas, and apostrophes and be able to pull or create a database. I’m just very analytically-minded, so I don’t know if it’s the process, but it’s just very pleasing. I’m a very neat and organized person.”

What did you like most about PNW?

“I think this applies to both athletics and academics, but when you walk around campus you see some of the same people so much that it creates a very welcoming environment. When I walked into the Athletics department, I knew everyone there, everyone said ‘hi,’ and you had conversations and got to know each other. Whether you’re in the classroom or at the Athletics facilities, a friendly face can go a long way.”

Did you have a pivotal experience while attending PNW?

“At PNW I was on SAAC. During my second year my advisor encouraged me to apply for the Division II SAAC representing the GLIAC. There’s a representative from each conference on the larger committee and I was considered among 24 applicants. It was a whirlwind, but I saw it as an opportunity, and it’s the coolest thing I was able to be a part of.

My first year I was a regular committee member, my second year I got on the executive board, and my third year I served as vice chair. I’ve been able to be a part of and help put on events and conventions. Those are some of the coolest experiences to encourage student-athletes to take up initiatives, go back to their campuses with ideas, and improve the student-athlete experience. There were 26 of us serving as one voice for around 123,000 student-athletes, and we took that very seriously.”

Did you have a favorite athletics experience?

“This season (2022) and last season (2021) we made it to the semifinal in the GLIAC men’s soccer tournament, but eventually lost to the tournament winner.

In my earlier seasons, we would typically lose in the first round. During my senior year and fourth season, the team got over the hump. We were the third seed playing the sixth seed, so it was a big statement win, and we were able to qualify for the semifinals — the first time anyone at PNW had done it. We gave it our best, but that was our most historic and best season in terms of achievements.”

What are your plans after graduation?

“I’m in the process of applying to a few different roles. With Business Analytics you’re looking at being an analyst of some sort, like a market analyst, or doing consulting. I like to look at trends and where a company could be producing better or looking at programs or product performance.”

Was there anyone at PNW who inspired or encouraged you along the way?

Serdar TurediSerdar Turedi, Assistant Professor of Business Analytics

“I’ve had multiple classes with Dr. Turedi. He has been awesome. He’s a soccer fan too, so we connected right away. He was flexible, as well as one of the most understanding, nicest professors you could meet. He was always willing to talk to students and helped us put our best foot forward. I can’t say enough good things about him.”


A PNW student in the Student Union and Library Building

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