Oakton hosts 150+ teens for Ponte Pilas Teen Summit

The summit allows Latino/a/x high school students to learn more about the college experience.
Des Plaines, Ill. (April 18, 2023) – More than 150 students from four local high schools participated in the Ponte Pilas Teen Summit at Oakton College on April 18. The annual event introduces Latino/a/x juniors and seniors to Oakton and provides an opportunity to learn about post-secondary education and the transition from high school to college.

“Oakton is an open door for students and families and has resources specific for underrepresented communities, like first-generation and undocumented students,” said Franklin Ortega Palaguachi, Latinx Resource Center manager at Waubonsee Community College, and former Oakton’s ¡ANDALE! program coordinator, during his keynote speech.

“Education has given me financial stability, a job that I love and resources. When you graduate from college, you are not only changing your life, but also your family’s. Oakton has shown me opportunities. At Oakton, you can explore,” added Ortega Palaguachi, who is also an Oakton alum.

Ponte Pilas is a Spanish expression that encourages people to work harder, do their best, or pay more attention to something. Summit participants learned about the admission process and Oakton’s ¡ANDALE! — the Association to Nurture and Develop the Advancement of Latino/a/x's in Education — program, which supports students’ personal, emotional, social, academic and career development from application to graduation.

Students also created vision boards, learned about Latin American countries and Oakton’s Study Abroad Program through interactive sessions, toured the campus and engaged with the Oakton faculty, staff and students.

“I attended the summit as a junior at Maine West High School. It truly makes an impact knowing that you will have access to customized opportunities to support you in college,” said Luz Trejo Camarillo, Oakton’s recruitment and outreach specialist. “As a student at Oakton, I participated in ¡ANDALE!, which helped me successfully pursue my higher education goals. Now, as I lead Ponte Pilas, I want to ensure that Latino/a/x students in our district know that Oakton is here for them to pursue their dreams.”

This year, more than 150 juniors and seniors from Evanston Township High School, Maine East High School, Niles North High School and Niles West 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 College’s 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.

By exploring College resources, discussing Latino/a/x identities in current affairs and engaging with the community, the award-winning ¡ANDALE! program assists students in learning and improving leadership skills. Participants have numerous opportunities to attend workshops that provide leadership development and the necessary tools for academic success, participate in community service projects, form meaningful relationships with peers, learn about scholarships and attend fully-funded conferences.

To learn more about ¡ANDALE!, please visit www.oakton.edu/life-at-oakton/diversity-at-oakton/andale.php. For additional questions, please contact Oakton’s Equity Coordinator for ¡ANDALE! Gabriel Chacón Jr.