Opportunities Abound: Young Men of Color Explore Future Pathways at Illinois Tech Summit



By Thaddeus Mast
Chicago Public Students take part in the Young Men of Color Summit

Nearly 500 students explored Mies Campus on November 12 to experience the opportunities that await after they graduate high school during the Young Men of Color Summit hosted by Illinois Institute of Technology. The summit marks a new collaboration between Chicago Public Schools and the university.

The summit was a chance for young Black and Latinx men to learn how they can be successful in higher education, says Illinois Tech Director of Undergraduate Admission Markie Rhodes. Speakers came from organizations and schools across Chicago to speak to the group, with speakers including Illinois Tech President Raj Echambadi and keynote speaker Calvin Nobles, chair of Illinois Tech’s Department of Information Technology and Management.

“Black and Latinx students are often disproportionately impacted by systemic challenges causing barriers to success in academia and higher education,” Rhodes says. “The YMOC Summit is an opportunity for these students to start building their networks early in their academic careers and to learn the necessary strategies to overcome any challenges they may encounter on their personal journeys.”

The summit was composed of seminars that touched on topics such as Illinois Tech’s pre-college programs and its Elevate program, which guarantees that students take part in hands-on experiences, receive personalized mentorship, and graduate career-ready. Other sessions asked students what experiences they want to pursue and how to attain those goals.

“The purpose is not to be an admission event—these students are getting into seminars and summits for life skills they need,” Rhodes says. “Some [sessions] were about higher education, like how to seek scholarships and get a look behind the curtain of admissions. Others were about growing up to be a moral and ethical human being.”

Illinois Tech is focused on being involved in the community and on furthering its mission to provide a distinctive and relevant education to students from all backgrounds.

“We are committed to not only recruiting, but also seeing them through to graduation and seeing them through to success, and it’s a different journey depending on student needs,” Rhodes says. “We continue looking forward to meeting with CPS moving forward, as well as assisting them through our pre-college programs.”

Photo: Chicago Public School students take part in the Young Men of Color Summit at Illinois Tech on November 12 (courtesy of Chicago Public Schools)