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JTHS Students Attend Seventh Annual Latinx Empowerment Conference

November 21, 2017 01:19 PM
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On November 17th, 2017, over 100 Joliet Township High School students attended the 7thAnnual Latinx Empowerment Conference at Joliet Junior College hosted by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and JJC Latinos Unidos.

The event had over 400 students and staff in attendance from the following schools: Joliet Central High School, Joliet West High School, Lockport High School, Plainfield North High School, Plainfield East High School, Morris High School, Bolingbrook High School, and Romeoville High School.

Dr. Judy Mitchell, President of Joliet Junior College, and Martha Villegas Miranda, MSSW, Multicultural Student Success Pathway Coach & Latinos Unidos Advisor, welcomed the students. They encouraged students to reflect on this year’s theme: “Aspire to Inspire” or “Aspira a Inspirar.”

After the welcoming remarks, students participated in a breakout session where they attended a workshop and heard from JJC students, alumni, staff and community members on how to plan for college success. High School educators participated in a separate breakout session for their professional development.  

The keynote speaker of the conference was Cesar Vargas, Esq., the first undocumented lawyer in the state of New York. He is a nationally recognized leader and innovator at the forefront of the fight for immigration reform.

His advocacy and story helped in the national efforts to convince President Obama to broaden opportunities for millions of undocumented by expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Mr. Vargas has also educated immigrants across the country on their rights, spoken on behalf of his community at congressional hearings, and volunteered at clinics to represent young undocumented immigrants apply for administrative relief. He has also appeared in Immigration Court on behalf of children facing deportation.

Joliet Central Counselor Aseneth Ruiz said, “Every year our students come away from the conference feeling inspired to achieve their goals. This year they were especially moved by the story of Cesar Vargas, Esq., the first undocumented lawyer in NY. His story truly resonated with our students, some of whom fall into the same situation Cesar finds himself in, and they see his story as an example of someone who was able to overcome obstacles and make his dream of being a lawyer a reality. 

Cesar spoke of the people who motivated him to keep going and one of them was his high school English teacher. I wish more teachers had the opportunity to hear his story and see the impact that our words, as educators, have on our students.”

Following the keynote speech, students participated in an Empowerment Resource Fair featuring local organizations such as the Spanish Community Center and the Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project. During the resource fair, students also enjoyed dancing to a performance by local musical group Tamborazo Rancho Bonito.

Eddie Lopez, a JJC and Joliet West alumnus, and Jesus Patino, a student leader of JJC’s Latinos Unidos and alumnus of Joliet Central High School, gave the closing remarks.

View Photos:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/jths204/albums/72157687598456762

 

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