Local youth exposed to college opportunities

By Danielle Gaines

This Friday the Illini Union will be filled with a different type of student. The campus will host 250 local middle and high school students for the second annual Multicultural Youth Conference.

The conference aims to provide local minority, low-income and first generation students with the tools to enter and succeed in higher education.

Roy Saldana, assistant to the director of the Office of Minority Student Affairs, served as chairperson of the conference committee. Saldana said first generation students are more likely to be intimidated by the amount of paperwork required for entering the higher education system and do not have access to people with college experience.

“We want to help these students so that procedural things don’t build up and keep them from going to college,” Saldana said.

Students at the conference will attend sessions on admissions, financial aid, graduate school, residential life and study abroad programs among others. Volunteering University graduate students will facilitate the workshops. Conference attendees will receive checklists for college preparation and speak with current University students.

“Being able to lend a helping hand and having the opportunity to share my experience as a college student will be great,” said Jacquelyn Burrell, junior in LAS and committee member.

This year’s conference will focus on continuing conversation with the students in attendance. The Office of Minority Student Affairs will maintain a list of attendees so other campus departments will be able to keep the students aware of campus events. The conference committee will also keep in touch with the students by following up with them in the spring semester.

There are currently 45 students from all areas of the University helping with the project, said Kimberly Verest, junior in LAS and a conference committee member. Students interested in volunteering can attend volunteer meetings held in Lincoln Hall 116 at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday or 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Volunteering would include helping students find their way and other organizational duties.

Local secondary school students can attend the conference by contacting the Office of Minority Affairs.