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JTHS Students Attend 6th Annual Latino Empowerment Conference

November 10, 2016 08:11 AM
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On November 4th, 2016, over 100 Joliet Township High School students attended the 6thAnnual Latino Empowerment Conference at Joliet Junior College hosted by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.

The students were welcomed by Dr. Judy Mitchell, President of Joliet Junior College, Dr. Yolanda Isaacs, Vice President of Student Development, and Martha Villegas Miranda, Latino Outreach and Retention Specialist. They encouraged students to reflect on this year’s theme: “Your Voice, Your Power, Your Future” or “Tu Voz, Tu Poder, Tu Futuro.”

In addition, students participated in a breakout session where they attended a workshop and heard from JJC alumni and other college graduates on how to plan for college success.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Juan Andrade Jr., President and Co-Founder of the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute. Dr. Andrade is the 4th Latino in history to be honored by both governments, the United States and Mexico. He received the Presidential’ s Citizens Medal from President Bill Clinton. He has earned five degrees and five honorary doctorates. He has been recognized five times as one of the most influential Hispanics in America.

During his session, he shared his story of having grown up at the height of the civil rights struggle in the US and his battles with cultural identity. He shared about his experiences as an educator, and about co-founding USHLI, with the primary purpose of ensuring the social and civic integration of the Latino community and other disenfranchised groups. This was Dr. Andrade’s last public speaking as he will be focusing on his health.

The closing remarks were given by Samantha Ante, president of JJC’s Latinos Unidos, who shared her story about being an undocumented student. Having lost hope of attending college, she felt inspired to continue her education at JJC after attending the Latino Empowerment Conference.

“I am so thankful to Martha Villegas Miranda, and the staff of Multicultural Student Affairs at JJC for having conferences such as this one. It not only allows students to learn about the post-secondary options, but they get inspired by people who have had their share of struggles and have managed to overcome those struggles. Students shared that they can see themselves reflected in the stories shared and how those stories give them hope to continue working to achieve their dreams,” said Aseneth Ruiz, counselor at Joliet Central High School. “We are also very thankful to our school administrators, Mr. Hallihan for their unwavering support as well as our teachers, Mr. Crim, Mr. Marquez and Mr. Grimes for taking the time to chaperone the students.”

By the conclusion of the event, students left energized by the stories and advice shared by the many inspiring figures paving the way for the students to reach their own dreams. 

 

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