Oakton hosts 150+ teens for Ponte Pilas Teen Summit

Latino/a/x students from five local high schools kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month at Oakton.
Des Plaines, Ill. (Sept. 18, 2023) – More than 150 students from five local high schools participated in the annual Ponte Pilas Teen Summit at Oakton College on Sept. 15. The event marked the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month, also known as Latinx Heritage Month, and introduced Latino/a/x juniors and seniors to higher education, providing information about opportunities and Latinx programming at Oakton.

“Our theme for the event was ‘your dreams are real,’” said Gabriel Chacón Jr., Oakton’s equity coordinator for ¡ANDALE! “I can’t think of a better way to kick off Latinx Heritage Month than to get together as a community to discuss opportunities and pathways available to Latino/a/x students in higher education while they pursue their life goals.”

Over 150 juniors and seniors and 25 chaperons from Evanston Township, Maine East, Maine West, Niles North and Niles West high schools participated.

Ponte Pilas is a Spanish expression that encourages people to work harder, do their best, or pay more attention to something. The annual event brings Latino/a/x high school students together to learn about the admission process, the transition to college from high school, and the benefits of attending a community college.

The students learned about Oakton and its Latinx programming, including ¡ANDALE! — the Association to Nurture and Develop the Advancement of Latino/a/x's in Education — program. ¡ANDALE! supports students’ personal, emotional, social, academic and career development from application to graduation.

Students also heard from Latino/a/x community college graduates and current Oakton students who graduated from participating high schools and talked about their higher education journey and experience at Oakton, and answered questions from the audience.

After participating in sessions, creating vision boards and touring the Des Plaines campus, the high school students ended the day with a lunch that included Latin dishes and beverages, including pupusas, churros and agua fresca, while listening to banda, reggeaton, bachata, salsa and other Latin beats.

Advancing equity and providing educational opportunities for the diverse student body is core to Oakton’s mission and values. ¡ANDALE! works to ensure the success of Latino/a/x students and offers numerous opportunities to:
  • Attend workshops that provide leadership development and the necessary tools for academic success — from reading textbooks to developing effective study habits.
  • Participate in community service projects.
  • Form meaningful networks with peers.
  • Meet new friends with similar future aspirations.
  • Learn about scholarships.
  • Attend fully-funded conferences.
  • Celebrate at an end-of-year event.
To learn more about ¡ANDALE!, please visit Oakton’s website. For additional questions, please contact Oakton’s Equity Coordinator for ¡ANDALE! Gabriel Chacón Jr. (gchacon@oakton.edu).