Suburban Mosaic: ECC kicks off Latinx Heritage Month with talk on human rights

Elgin Community College is hosting a series of events celebrating Latinx Heritage Month with the theme “Belonging: Familia, Herencia, y Poder.”

It kicks off with a discussion on human rights in the Latino community and beyond from 5:30 to 7:15 p.m. Thursday in Building B, Jobe Lounge, on campus, 1700 Spartan Drive.

A panel of experts from the Illinois Human Rights Commission, Illinois Department of Human Rights, the Chicago Workers' Collaborative, and grass-roots organizers will discuss protections against discrimination under the Illinois Human Rights Act. The event is free and open to the public, and simultaneous Spanish interpretation will be provided.

“We wanted to recognize that more than 13,000 new arrivals, most fleeing poverty and political unrest in Venezuela, have joined the Chicagoland community in the last year,” said Antonio Ramirez, ECC associate professor of history. “These families are searching for belonging in our community, and we want to help. At the same time, we want to recognize the heritage and power of Latinx people who've lived their whole lives in the U.S. by including events focused on human rights, music and our annual Latinx Conexion event.”

ECC Latinx heritage events

• Latinx Conexion, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 26, Building B, Spartan Corner Lounge. Connect with prominent Latinx leaders from ECC, transfer institutions and the Elgin community.

• “Venezuela: Why Refugees are Fleeing to the U.S.,” 2 to 3:15 p.m. Oct. 4, Building B, Room B181, Community Room. Hear from local experts about the crisis in Venezuela, the refugee migration and how it affects the Elgin community, and what you can do to help.

• Gallery reception, 3:30 to 7 p.m. Oct. 4, Building C, Renner Library Hallway Gallery, featuring a collection of images that reveal the complicated process of creating a new reality in pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.

• “¡Si Se Puede!” movie, 12:30 to 2 p.m. Oct. 10, Building B, Room B182, Alumni Room. Documenting the story of Dolores Huerta and her impact on the history of the United States Farm Workers of America.

• Black Hawk Performance Company dance troupe, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Oct. 11, Building B, Jobe Lounge, celebrating Indigenous heritage through tribal songs and dances.

For more information, visit

STEM for all

Benedictine University in Lisle has been selected to participate in the U.S. Department of Energy's $70 million grant program to support research by historically underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and to diversify leadership in the physical sciences.

Three Benedictine University students pursuing studies and careers in astrophysics will be selected to participate in the program, funded through DOE's Reaching a New Energy Sciences Workforce initiative that supports internships, training programs and mentor opportunities at 65 U.S. institutions.

The RENEW Midwest program partners Benedictine University, Black Hills State University in South Dakota and the University of Michigan. Benedictine and Black Hills will select three undergraduate students each this academic year to attend a 10-week summer program at the University of Michigan to learn professional, writing and research skills.

Students will return to their campuses in the fall to participate in yearlong research projects.

Benedictine's project will focus on astrophysics, including work with the Vera C. Rubin Observatory and follow-up of gravitational wave events with the Dark Energy Survey Gravitational Wave Collaboration. The grant will support construction of the new Benedictine Remote Observing Center which will allow remote operation of telescopes.

Benedictine students can apply for the program at

Civic engagement

Elgin Community College's new Center for Civic Engagement is hosting its inaugural event, Women in Politics, Tuesday at its 1700 Spartan Drive campus.

The two-part program includes a public panel discussion, “Power, Passion, & Policy,” with state legislators and a student-only reception with Rep. Nabeela Syed of Inverness from the 51st House District.

ECC student leaders spent the summer organizing both events alongside center co-directors LaTasha DeHaan, assistant professor of political science and Antonio Ramirez, associate professor of history.

Ramirez said the center will serve as “a regional hub for political education and democratic discussion.”

DeHaan will moderate the Women in Politics panel, from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in Building B, Jobe Lounge. Panelists are state Sens. Cristina Castro, Linda Holmes, Laura Murphy, and state Reps. Maura Hirachauer, Anna Moeller, Michelle Mussman, and Suzanne Ness. They will talk about how female legislators are shaping the future of Illinois.

Syed, the youngest member of the Illinois General Assembly, will meet with ECC students. Preregistration is required. Visit

Presidential inauguration

Aurora University's inauguration of its 14th president, and first Latina president, Susana Rivera-Mills will take place during Homecoming Week, Sept. 29 through Oct. 1, on campus at 347 S. Gladstone Ave.

A native of El Salvador, Rivera-Mills came to the U.S. at age 12 after her family fled a civil war. She started her career in higher education 30 years ago and most recently served as provost at Ball State University.

The 52-year-old was selected after a six-month national search. She replaces Becky Sherrick, the university's first female president, who stepped down after 22 years at the helm.

Rivera-Mills will be installed Sept. 29. Registration check-in is from 8 to 10 a.m. at the Hill Center for Student Success, 1433 Prairie St. The inauguration will be from 2 to 3 p.m. in the Tent on the Quad followed by a celebration from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Spartan Terrace.

Limited seating is available for the inauguration. Advance registration is required at

Human rights banquet

Chicago-based nonprofit Justice For All will host a benefit spotlighting the plight of Uyghur Muslims on Sept. 24 at Shalimar Banquets, 280 W. North Ave., Addison.

Keynote speaker Rebiya Kadeer, once among China's wealthiest people and a prominent businesswoman who advocated for the Uyghur minority being persecuted in China, will share firsthand experiences about their struggles. Kadeer spent nine years in a Chinese prison and had to forfeit her wealth for speaking up on their behalf.

About 11 million Uyghurs — a mostly Muslim, Turkic-speaking ethnic group — live in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. The Chinese government has detained more than 1 million Uyghurs since 2017 and subjected the larger community to intense surveillance, religious restrictions, forced labor and forced sterilizations, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

Justice for All will launch a report on missing Uyghur imams and the Nazification of India. The event also will feature Nadine Maenza, ex-chair of the bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, who spearheaded efforts to advocate for sanctions against those targeting Muslims and Christians in India.

The banquet starts at 6 p.m. Tickets are $100 and can be purchased at or by calling (800) 432-4262.

• Share stories and news from the suburban mosaic at

  Susana Rivera-Mills is the first Latina president of Aurora University. She will be installed Sept. 29. John Starks/
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