When NIU hosts the annual conference of Illinois Latino Council on Higher Education, this year with a theme of “Reshaping Latino Access to Higher Education: Realities, Challenges and Opportunities,” two milestones will take place.
Coming to campus Friday, April 29, the event is the first to take place outside Chicago – and, of course, it will mark the first time that NIU has hosted the conference.
Participants will discuss the reality of Latinos in higher education and reflect on the challenges that Latinos have overcome to open the path to new opportunities for future generations.
Representatives from the DeKalb County Clerk’s Office will attend to provide information on voter registration. They also will offer details on passport application for U.S. citizens in preparation for the Real ID legislation scheduled for implementation Jan. 22, 2018, in Illinois.
“ILACHE is delighted to bring the 24th annual student and professional development conference for the first time in our history to Northern Illinois University,” said ILACHE President Daniel López Jr., vice president for Student Affairs at Northeastern Illinois University.
“We look forward to discussing Latino higher education issues and solutions in Illinois at a student-centered institution committed to Latino student success and supporting its Latino faculty and staff. Our guest and keynote speakers will motivate participants to engage and reflect on our conference theme.”
Susana DasNeves, an academic adviser and counselor with the NIU Academic Advising Center, set a goal to bring the conference to DeKalb when she joined the group’s executive board in 2014 as vice president of Academic and Professional Development.
“This is an exciting time for NIU,” DasNeves said. “Conference participants (professionals, high school and college students) will have the opportunity to experience NIU first-hand as an option for their academic and career plans. We will have representatives from Office of Undergraduate Admissions, the Graduate School and the law school to help them explore NIU’s academic programs and opportunities to enhance their career goals.”
DasNeves is grateful to the university and to Michelle Pickett, director of Academic Advising Center, for their support.
“It has been an extraordinary experience and privilege,” she said, “to represent Northern Illinois University at a state organization that works collaboratively with colleges, universities and stakeholders to increase the access, retention and advancement of Latino students, faculty and staff in Illinois higher education institutions.”
The Illinois Latino Council on Higher Education strive to create an awareness of issues impacting Latinos in higher education and to provide a statewide forum for Latino educators, community representatives and other supporters for the social and professional advancements of Latinos.
Members of the statewide organization are dedicated to the advancement of the status of Latinos through educational policy reform, advocacy, identification of best practices and the dissemination of research and information.
Laura I. Rendón, professor of higher education in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Texas-San Antonio, is the keynote speaker.
Rendón, who is also co-director of the Center for Research and Policy in Education, is passionate about assisting students who, like her, grew up in poverty with hopes and dreams but not knowing how to realize them.
She is credited with developing the theory of validation, which colleges and researchers have employed as a framework for working with, and affirming, low-income students.
In 2013, the Texas Diversity Council awarded Rendón the title of being one of the Most Powerful and Influential Women in Texas.
NIU’s Rosita López, a retired professor of educational leadership in the College of Education, is the plenary speaker.
A gifted and inspirational lecturer, López serves as chair of the Northeastern Illinois University “El Centro” campus in Chicago.
She also is a member of the NIU Presidential Commission on the Status of Minorities and was a member of the NIU Presidential Commission on the Status of Women.
Simón Weffer-Elizondo, an associate professor in the NIU Department of Sociology and the NIU Center for Latino and Latin American Studies, will close the conference with opportunities for action as a Latino community as well as thoughts on the importance of making Latino voices count.
Sandy López, assistant to the director of the NIU Center for Latino and Latin American Studies, said she is proud that the her alma mater will host the ILACHE Conference – and grateful to her director, Kristin Huffine, who supports her involvement in the organization.
“ILACHE creates awareness of current issues impacting Latin@s in higher education and in our communities,” said López, who is also a member of the ILACHE Board of Directors. “It also advocates for the advancement of Latin@s in higher education, and provides a forum for educators, community representatives and activists to collectively facilitate the professional development of Latin@s.”