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On the road to the future

Transitions tend to be difficult. Many times they can cause anxiety and nervousness, especially in young people, who in addition to living through changes in their own bodies, must also begin to make important decisions that will determine their early adult life. Understanding that changes often need support, Enlace's post-secondary education team developed initiatives that are 100% dedicated to providing resources, tools and spaces that allow young people to make informed decisions.

Priscilla Monsivais, College Pipeline Specialist, and Lizbeth Mondragon, College Pipeline Advocate, work daily with youth between 18 and 24 years old through the Peer-Mentor and Future Forward initiatives.

“During the pandemic, we realized that with education being online, young people were going to need even more support with the transition from High School to College,” explains Lizbeth.

The Peer-Mentor initiative offers support to first- year college students by pairing them with a student- mentor studying at the same college. This mentor helps with orientation and support during the whole academic year. Each mentor has a group of 10 students. Right now, this initiative is present at the 6 colleges most commonly selected by students in La Villita.

● Malcolm X College

City Colleges of Chicago

● Harold Washington

City Colleges of Chicago

● Richard J. Daley College

City Colleges of Chicago

● University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)

● Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU)

● National Louis University

Mentors are selected through an application process and interviews. “We share a description of the mentor's job with the academic institutions, with the finance staff at Enlace and with partners. Generally the process begins in July. The interviews are done around August,” Priscilla explains.

Once selected and hired, a five (5) day training and orientation period follows. “Our idea is also to be able to generate job opportunities for young people in the community, and help them expand their resume,” Lizbeth tells us.

The second initiative is called Future Forward. Priscilla and Lizbeth comment that there is a large group of high school students who want to continue on to a college education, but there also exists and important number of young people. who do not have a clear idea of the path they wish to follow, or even just prefer to enter the workforce.

Future Forward has three different areas of focus, depending on what the student wants to do:

  1. Those students who want to find a job.

  2. Those students who plan to go to college, but who also want to take a year off.

  3. Those students who are still not clear about what they will do.

To support the whole student body and youth, Priscilla and Lizbeth offer up to three monthly workshops where participants learn different skills such as how to write an email to a professor, how to write a resumé, and networking, among others.

During this academic year, Lizbeth and Priscilla are working with more than 60 students. Their mission is to support former high school students from the neighborhood or youth who live in La Villita and who are deciding what their future holds. As part of their role, they both work closely with the high school counselors, who recommend and refer students to the programs, and with the rest of the education team at Enlace. If you would like to communicate with one of them, please email or

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