College fair focuses on Latino opportunities

November 11, 2012 (CHICAGO)

It was an opportunity for the young men and women to get a head start on their future.

The New Futuro College Prep Fair returned to the Chicago area.

"I want to be the most informed I can be for college," said high school senior Alexis Moreno.

"Its goal is to help Latino students and their parents prepare for college.

"Our focus is making sure we're culturally relevant in the language of their preference to make sure that we can take the mystery out of education," said Peter Wilkens.

That's why the Martinez' brought their daughter Olivia.

"She has two heritages obviously with her father being Mexican and me not," said Kim Martinez. "I want to make sure her entire being is included in what she can do."

The fair, which is in its second year, featured hundreds of bilingual representatives from universities, colleges, and local education officials.

"It's now the largest group in the Chicago Public Schools," said Chicago Board of Education Vice President Jesse Ruiz. "About 44 percent of our students are Latino and it's a group we need to help get forward in their educational destiny."

A destiny often interrupted by issues of immigration and access to financial aid with often plague undocumented students like high school graduate Jazmin Barron who would like to study nursing in college.

"You're kind of set back because you're trying to do the best you can with what you are given," Barron said.

"We have a lot of undocumented students in Chicago and we want to let them know there's a way to go to school uninterrupted," said Le Nguyen.

But Illinois Governor Pat Quinn says the state's Dream Act is just a good first step.

"We want to make sure that's a very good program for our students. Everybody in and nobody left out," Quinn said.

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