GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With tearful eyes in front of a crowd of students, faculty, family and friends of Aquinas College, Alicia Córdoba officially became the ninth president of the school and the first woman to hold the position in the school’s 136-year history.

“I think I’m supposed to say ‘Go Saints,’ right,” Córdoba said after being inaugurated Friday. “If you felt my heart racing right now, you would know to the depth of my being, the honor I feel as the ninth president of Aquinas College and as Sister Sanders said, the first female president here at Aquinas College.”

Córdoba is no stranger to being the first female in areas of her life. She graduated from The Julliard School and became the first woman to receive a doctorate of musical arts in English horn performance. She has spent the last 19 years in faculty and administrative positions at Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois.

(Courtesy Aquinas College)

She has been on campus in Grand Rapids as president-elect since July 1 and had this message to the 1,500 students in her care at the school:

“Students, you know I love you all. If I could give you any advice, it is to believe in yourself. I truly believe in each and every one of you,” she said during her speech. “And periodically, as you walk across the campus either on your way to class or to a practice, take some time to look at the beauty of your campus. Look up into the trees, listen to the wind, notice the colors and remember to thank God. I thank God for you each and every day.”

Córdoba remains active professionally through writing and presenting on a wide variety of topics from mission integration, which she helped establish at Benedictine University, to the strategic planning for the music. She is married with three kids.

“With all of you present here, I would like to commit myself to you, as your president, to serve you with compassion and humility, to listen to you and bring you joy,” Córdoba said to the students and those in attendance at her inauguration. “I want you to see how much I value you and the work that you do. And to work for you to make Aquinas College the premier college in the Midwest and beyond.”

Learn more about the president here or click here to watch the inauguration ceremony.