A native of Mexico, Daniel Mojica was five when his family moved to Cicero, Illinois. By junior high he had won over his new hometown, earning Cicero’s top student award. He learned about teamwork as a player on his state championship high school rugby team and as a stagehand, operating lights and painting murals. That artwork led to a brief internship at Nike to design shoes. My design didn’t win,” says Mojica, “but the opportunity showed me I’d enjoy running my own business.”
Mojica did exactly that during his first year at Western Illinois University, selling annuities and insurance as an independent contractor. When his father suffered a disabling illness, Mojica returned to Chicago and eventually enrolled in Harold Washington College. There he connected with a recruiter who encouraged him to apply to SPS, and in 2015 he joined the accelerated cohort program in organization behavior, with a focus on business leadership.
A year earlier Mojica had started work for EvoLux Transportation — “Expedia meets Airbnb” for private helicopter travel, with a ride-sharing option — cold-calling charter pilots. On an El ride, Mojica spotted a helipad under construction in the Illinois Medical District and helped EvoLux, a Miami-based startup, negotiate a contract with Vertiport Chicago to expand to Chicago in late 2015, earning him a promotion to expansion coordinator.
“When my professors find out what I’m doing with EvoLux, they reshape the syllabus so I can apply it to my work,” says Mojica.
His work has afforded Mojica the luxury of traveling by helicopter and limo, but he says his biggest luxury is being able to treat his family to dinner. “My first priority after I finish Northwestern will be to help my mom retire,” says Mojica. “Another part of my dream will be to donate to Northwestern.”