Almost 300 students, including some from H.L. Richards and Oak Lawn High schools descended on Moraine Valley Community College’s campus on Oct. 16 for a Youth Empowerment Summit designed to build leadership skills and engage in conversations and activities to help them envision themselves as active, successful college students. The summit was organized by Moraine Valley’s Enrollment Services subdivision.
Throughout the day, students heard from college staff members on topics relating to college preparation, student success, diversity discourse, career exploration and academic excellence. Workshops such as Personal Branding, More Hidden Figures, and Curve Balls and Lemonade helped students explore topics relevant to their lives.
One student who attended the summit said she enjoyed the summit because she loves personal growth workshops. “I heard so many different messages that made me think about things I normally don’t think about. The biggest thing I took from today is I might not know what I want to do later in life, but focusing on what I am doing now will matter in the future.”
Dr. David Stovall, associate professor of Educational Policy Studies and African-American Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, was the keynote speaker. Stovall works with youth and community organizations to develop curriculum that addresses issues of equity and justice and is involved with the Peoples Education Movement, a collection of classroom teachers, community members, students and university professors in Chicago, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area who engage in collaborative community projects centered in creating relevant curriculum.
“Dr. Stovall was the perfect selection for our inaugural youth summit,” said Dr. Darryl Williams, dean of Enrollment Services at Moraine Valley. “He kept the students fully engaged and spoke about the situations our teens are currently encountering and how to address those situations.”
A 17-year-old senior from Richards High school agreed. “He was the most unique speaker because he taught us what it means to learn and ask questions that are difficult, questions that challenge what you know. This event exceeded my expectations. It was really meaningful, and I’m glad I got to go.”
The idea for the Youth Empowerment Summit came from a Robbins resident who attended a meeting hosted by Tyrone Ward, mayor of Robbins, and college administrators looking for input on how Moraine Valley could better service their educational and career needs. The resident expressed concern for teens because they face different challenges in the world than adults did when they were growing up and wished someone could talk to and engage them.
“We knew something needed to be done, and our campus leadership agreed and supported our initiative to plan the summit. The event went very well. This will be an annual event we plan to grow and continue to offer topics relevant to teens,” Williams said. Other schools involved in the summit included from Eisenhower, Hillcrest, Shepherd, Oak Forest, Richards, and Argo high schools as well as Delta and Summit schools.