Oakton hosts 100+ teens for Sankofa: Black Teen Summit

Director of Student Life and Campus Inclusion Shedrick Daniels, Ed.D., and Oakton students talked with the Summit participants about the college experience.

Des Plaines, Ill. (Feb. 28, 2023) – More than 100 students from six local high schools participated in the Sankofa: Black Teen Summit at Oakton College on Feb. 28. The annual event introduces juniors and seniors to Oakton, provides information on the college experience, and creates space for teens to connect and reflect during Black History Month. 

“Sankofa: Oakton's Black Teen Summit seeks to empower and celebrate Black-identifying high school students as they transition from high school to college and/or their careers,” said Oakton’s Assistant Director of Enrollment for Equity Outreach Ella Whitehead, “It is important for students to see reflections of themselves in post-secondary settings and be provided with examples of how their presence contributes to the cultural richness of Oakton College.”

Sankofa, a term originating in Ghana, can be translated into English as “reach back and get it” and means that to move forward, we must return to our roots. During the Summit, students created vision boards that incorporated themes including staying connected to their heritage and culture, feeling supported at higher education institutions and pursuing educational goals.

Students also heard from Oakton administrators, faculty and staff members about opportunities at Oakton, transferring to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and studying abroad. They also participated in art activities, a scavenger hunt exploring Oakton’s Des Plaines campus, trivia about Oakton, and the“Black Excellence: How Music Helped Us Strive, Thrive and Resist” lecture.

This year, more than 100 juniors and seniors from Evanston Township High School, Maine East High School, Maine West High School, Niles North High School, Notre Dame College Prep and Forest View High School participated in the event.

Advancing equity and providing educational opportunities for the diverse student body is core to Oakton’s mission and values. The new strategic plan, Vision 2030: Building Just and Thriving Communities, includes the commitments of advancing racial justice, strengthening the student experience and enhancing workforce readiness and community engagement.

Oakton offers the Building Lasting African Culture and Knowledge (B.L.A.C.K.) Student Success Program, which supports Black students during the enrollment, retention and completion of their education at Oakton. The B.L.A.C.K. Student Success Program provides educational experiences and programs to address the needs and concerns of Black students in higher education. To learn more, please reach out to Manager of Student Life and Campus Inclusion Krissie Harris (kharris@oakton.edu, 847.635.1699).

In addition, last year, Oakton launched the Emory Williams Academy for Black Men, open to all first-year Oakton students who self-identify as male and as Black. The academy supports Black male students across a spectrum of educational goals, regardless of whether they’re striving for an associate degree, transferring to a four-year program or vocational training. To learn more about the Academy, please visit oakton.edu/academy.