The third annual College Changes Everything conference brought together 250 policymakers, local authorities, educators, and non-profits from around Illinois to share best practices and materials for improving college access and completion, particularly for traditionally disadvantaged students.
The conference included many engaging presentations on a wide range of topics related to student success. The keynote speaker, Greg Darnieder, U.S. Secretary of Education’s Senior Advisor on the College Access Initiative, shared insights into how his work within the Chicago Public Schools has informed his work in Washington, D.C., and special guest Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon spoke about how essential collaboration between the different sectors represented in the room is for helping Illinois maintain a competitive edge in education.
Elena Herrera, Women Employed’s Student Organizer, was awarded a special College Changes Everything Champion Award for her work with Student Advocates for Success, WE's student organizing progam.
"Six years ago, I was a warehouse worker with no hope of advancement and barely surviving on minimum wage. Thanks to financial aid and student supports, this year I graduated from the University of Illinois and now the sky’s the limit! I’m so passionate about WE’s initiatives because I want all working women to have the same opportunity I had to improve their lives. Its so important, because college truly changes everything – it did for me." - Elena Herrera