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IC students learn valuable skills at US Hispanic Leadership Institute


Eight Illinois College students were recently selected to attend the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute in Chicago where they developed skills for their future careers such as civic awareness and how to engage on campus, in their communities and throughout the U.S.

This was my second year attending and each year I learn something new. I think this conference has taught me to hold my head high and to be proud to be a Latina.
Nancy Cisneros ’20, Spanish and Psychology Major

The students applied to attend through Nuestra Casa, a campus organization created in 2016 to enhance the quality of life and education for Latinx students while also promoting diversity and inclusion on campus. Applicants were chosen for the conference based on how closely their goals aligned with the benefits and intended purpose of the conference.

Dr. Diana Grullón-García, assistant professor of Spanish, helped establish Nuestra Casa at IC after joining IC faculty in 2015, and now serves as faculty advisor. 

“The aim of the conference is to fulfill the principles of democracy within the Hispanic/Latinx students all around the nation by promoting higher education, research and leadership development, and by empowering them to be active in their communities and the country,” said Dr. Grullón-García. 

Nancy Cisneros ’20, who recently returned to IC from studying abroad in Spain, was among the students chosen to attend the conference. She has been an active member in Nuestra Casa since her first year at IC and will become vice president of the organization next semester. Cisneros said the conference experience made her feel welcome and inspired after her semester abroad. 

“This was my second year attending and each year I learn something new,” said Cisneros. “I think this conference has taught me to hold my head high and to be proud to be a Latina. Too many times I have told myself that I couldn't get a certain job because of the color of my skin.”

Senior Kevin Garcia Villagomez ’19 said he also felt empowered to overcome the challenges he has faced through his involvement in Nuestra Casa, a group he helped to establish on campus. The senior Business Administration and Spanish major said he learned many valuable lessons at the conference. 

“This experience has taught me how to communicate efficiently to grow stronger connections and it gave me a perspective of how younger people look up to role models,” he said, adding, “The conference also prepared me for future networking events.” 

As he looks toward graduation, Garcia Villagomez says he hopes rising students at Illinois College are able to take advantage of the experience. 

“Experiences like this conference can provide an extra boost of encouragement to follow their dreams and pursuit the path to success,” he said. 

For more information about Nuestra Casa, contact Diana Grullón-García at 217.245.3157 or

About Illinois College

Founded in 1829, Illinois College is a residential liberal arts college fostering academic excellence rooted in opportunities for experiential learning while preparing students for lifelong success. The college is located in Jacksonville, Illinois. With an enrollment of more than 1,000 students, the college offers over 50 undergraduate programs. In 1932 the society of Phi Beta Kappa established a chapter at Illinois College, and it remains one of only 11 in the state.

Illinois College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

Visit or call 217.245.3467 for more information.

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