Latino students are motivated for college

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Latino students are motivated for college

Published: October 15, 2013.

More than 450 elementary and high school students from across the Chicago area were inspired by Andres Lara, “That Cuban Guy,” a nationally-known author and motivational speaker Oct. 10 at Lewis University’s annual Si Se Puede Conference.

The event includes workshops that provide students with the information and inspiration about the college admission and financial aid process, college life, and what to do now to prepare for college. New this year was the inclusion of elementary school students. Historically, the conference only included high schools.

“You must take action to achieve your goals, no goal is too large, just take small action steps,” keynote speaker Andres Lara said to the crowd. When he was 16 years old, he came to the United States from Cuba without his family and speaking no English. He graduated from college, became a published author and millionaire.

The students also were entertained by local comedian Mike Oquendo of the “Mikey O Comedy Show,” who served as the event’s master of ceremonies.

The Si Se Puede Conference is in the spirit of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, who believed strongly in community empowerment. The conference serves as a beacon of hope and resource for many Latino high school students whom would otherwise feel a college degree is not attainable. Since its inception in 2001, more than 3,500 students have participated in the Si Se Puede Conference.

“I was amazed by the energy from the committee members and the more than 50 student volunteers who came in on their day off to engage with the hundreds of high school and elementary school students, parents and staff. The immediate impact the conference has on students that day is encouraging, but having worked with Latino students and communities for more than a decade, I can foresee the impact the conference will have in their future,” commented Miguel Cambray, director of Multicultural Student Services at Lewis University.

Schools in attendance included: Curie Metro High School – Chicago, De La Salle Institute – Chicago, Granger Middle School – Aurora, Fenton High School – Bensenville, Johnson College Prep – Chicago, Joliet Central High School – Joliet, Lake Park High School – Roselle, Lockport Township High School – Lockport, Metea Valley High School – Aurora, San Miguel School – Chicago, and Romeoville High School, Romeoville.

Lewis University is a Catholic university in the Lasallian tradition offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 6,500 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected, and socially responsible graduates. The seventh largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report. Visit for further information.

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Martha Villegas Miranda said:
It was an honor to be at the conference and offer the Welcome Remarks. It began as a small dream of empowering students to go to college and has now reached over 4,000. Thank you- Gracias for your efforts in continuing the Si Se Puede Conference strong this year! Adelante! Martha Villegas Miranda, one of the founders of the Si Se Puede Conference.

Ivan Soto said:
The Si Se Puede Conference has been an amazing conference for our Latino/a students to discover the possibilities of attending college. Many of our former students at Joliet Central High School have gone on to attend Lewis University and have graduated with their degree.

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