D211 Foundation Innovation Grant Spotlight: Guiding and Nurturing Academic Success (GANAS) III

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Participating GANAS students participate in the Latino Summit.

Many students spend four years of high school preparing for college, taking dual-credit and advanced placement courses, and exploring what they want to accomplish after graduation. For many others, specifically first-generation high school students, college seems like a great idea but one that is simply not attainable for them.

One program at Hoffman Estates High School is aiming to change the self-perception many of those students have. Guiding and Nurturing Academic Success (GANAS III) is a program for the school’s Latino population. Through GANAS, which is funded by a D211 Foundation Innovation Grant, students are exposed to professionals in varying fields and shown that earning a collegiate degree is something they can accomplish.

“Going to college was always something that I had to do even though I never really wanted to go to college,” said Freshman Anayeli Huerta. “There were a lot of people at the summit that came from nothing and actually went to college to have a career.”

GANAS is currently available for freshman students only. Each year, students attend a Latino Summit at Harper College in November. While there, they hear from several Latino professionals in different fields. Many of these professionals are the first in their families to graduate from high school and college, and students have said it’s great to see successful people that came from similar, tough backgrounds accomplishing their goals.

“When you are generally thought of as a minority and statistic, you get scared and start to believe those things you hear,” said Steffi Delgado, freshman and GANAS III participant. “When you have other people showing you that they actually accomplished what they wanted to in life, it is amazing and you just get the reassurance that you can do it too.”

Students who have participated in the program hope it can expand to include students of all grade levels, and not just freshmen.

“The summit made me open my eyes and see that school is important,” said sophomore Jorge Morales. “If I could I would thank the Foundation because this helped me and it meant so much to me. I wanted to go back this year but it was only for freshmen to go.”

Additionally, students hope the program can also include college visits, as many of them have difficulties planning a college visit outside of school.

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Valeria Ojeda, senior and recipient of a $500 scholarship from the Latino Summit, shakes hands with HEHS Principal Jim Britton at the event.

“Participating in this freshman year is the motivator and once we are in junior or senior year, we could take a trip to a college that maybe we weren’t thinking about,” said Valeria Ojeda, senior and recipient of a $500 scholarship from the Latino Summit. “A college visit could change your mind. You might have thought you wanted a big school but when you go your realize you want a small school. That would help.”

Freshman Harim Rodriguez said this program can reach students young and teach them the importance of staying in school, something he benefitted from. “This program served as an example to show us that if we put motivation in to our work, we can actually get very far in our future, he said.”

Angelica Cordova, HEHS guidance counselor and sponsor of GANAS, said as she hopes to see the program grow, she will be able to show more students to pursue the potential she knows they have. With the continued support of the D211 Foundation, she said the program could make that possible.

“Right now, this is really only a freshman year experience,” Cordova said. “I would like to see it trickle down so students get four years of college exposure. These are kids we need to be reaching and they are all great students.”