By Marvin García, Community As A Campus

Newly appointed President of Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) Dr. Gloria Gibson visited the Humboldt Park Community as part of a listening tour with community leaders and school administrators participating in the Community as a Campus initiative. The goal of the visit was to see first hand the feasibility of building an NEIU presence in Humboldt Park to offer students education pathways with wraparound support provided by both the community stakeholders and NEIU to ensure post secondary retention and graduation.

President Gibson was accompanied by NEIU staff members; Daniel López, Vice President of Student Affairs, Frank Gaytan, Special Assistant to the Provost for Retention and Success, Angelica Rivera, Director of Proyecto Pa’Lante, Pinkey Steward, Director of Project Success, Lamont Vaughn, Director of Admissions and Mike Dizon, Chief of Staff. NEIU Board of Trustee Marvin Garcia facilitated the tour with the help of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center staff.

Starting at the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture, the four-stop tour included visits to West Town Academy and ChiArts High Schools. As she was leaving the Museum, President Gibson was able to greet several of the areas most important elected officials, including State Senator Omar Aquino and State Senator Iris Martínez, Alderwoman “Millie” Santiago, and Cook County Commissioner Luis Arroyo, Jr., who were attending a meeting there. The tour concluded with a luncheon at Roberto Clemente Community Academy, where CPS CEO’s Chief of staff Pedro Soto pledged to inform Janice Jackson on the various opportunities the partnership can provide for schools in the area. Other participants included Network 5 Chief Shontae Higginbottom, Youth Connection Charter School Executive Director, Sheila Venson and State Representative candidate Delia Ramirez. In addition, there was representation from the CPS Family and Community Engagement office, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School and Marine Academy High School. President Gibson and staff listened to both concerns and ideas from the participants and will be outlining first steps with Trustee Garcia to lead towards a formal partnership with the lead agency coordinating the community work; The Puerto Rican Cultural Center.

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