College Promotes Higher Education in 10th Annual Latino Summit

Sergio Gonzalez attended his first Latino Summit at Harper College in 2002 - an experience he says transformed him from a high school freshman who wasn't sold on the idea of college to an inspired 15-year-old who knew with certainty that higher education had to be in his future.

The Des Plaines resident will be back this year for the event's 10th anniversary, this time taking the stage himself as a successful college graduate with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering under his belt.

Gonzalez will be among the Friday, November 18 event's 60 professional Latino panelists, who will speak with more than 400 local Latino teenagers about the value of higher education.

The summit also will feature more than 50 current Latino college students, who will relay their experiences on various campuses.

"I want to give back, and I believe the best way to do that is by encouraging and inspiring youth to continue their education," says Gonzalez, a Maine West High School and University of Illinois alumnus who says he'll hammer home the point that attendees also hold the potential to obtain advanced degrees, including doctorates. "I want to show students they can go to college and they can be successful."

The all-day summit, which aims to instill the value of higher education and the importance of sticking with school amid the reality that Latino students seek out college less frequently than their peers, is expected to draw Latino freshmen from 13 local high schools in Districts 207, 211, 214 and 220. They'll hear a keynote address from motivational speaker Lourdes Ferrer - an educational consultant who has interviewed hundreds of middle- and high school minority students to discover the reason for their achievement struggles - and tour Harper's Palatine campus.

"Many who attend may come from families where going to college isn't a sure thing. They need to see others just like them who've been successful," Recruiting Specialist Juanita Bassler says. "We want them to set goals for high school, college and beyond."

Media Note: The Latino Summit will include a parade of flags representing the ancestry of the attending students, as well as a performance from a Barrington High School-based Mexican dance troupe. For the best photo times and specific location information, contact Media Relations Specialist Erin Brooks.