By Luke Kerber, Inclusion, Access and Success Co-Chair
On November 12, 2014, the Higher Education Civic Engagement Collaborative of Greater Chicago (HECEC) hosted an event at DePaul University’s downtown Loop campus that focused on undocumented student access. The event was titled A Chicago-area Conference on Higher Education Access for Undocumented Students. I don’t believe anyone realized how big this event would become; the event was so well attended that multiple rooms were needed to accommodate all the participants, and the opening presentation was Skyped in the extra rooms.
All the presentations were wonderful and very informative. Tanya Cabrera, Associate Director for Minority Outreach and Undocumented Student Initiatives at the Illinois Institute of Technology, presented an overview of undocumented student resources and statistics. She created a great moment when she asked each member of the audience to introduce him/herself and say their job title and in what area of higher education they work. It was inspirational to see how so many people from so many different backgrounds were in the audience. City officials, college professors, admission and financial aid professionals, and even non-profit companies were present. I also attended a presentation by DePaul’s financial aid staff, who talked about what kind of institutional aid is available for undocumented students.
As a tri-chair for IAS, I am so pleased to see people passionate about helping students from underrepresented areas – which is what our committee is all about. Attending this event really helped to network with other professionals all fighting for the same thing! It was great to hear from the faculty and student sides, something we don’t always get to see when we meet as counselors.
Coming May 20, 2015, there will be another conference similar to this called Sharing the Dream. It will be held at the University of St. Francis, and many of the people in attendance at the HECEC event will be there as well. The IAS Committee is encouraging people to attend this event!