Associated Colleges of Illinois


Associated Colleges of Illinois supports member colleges and universities by advancing independent liberal arts and sciences education and helping underserved students succeed in college, career and life.

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Montse Cancino-Aguilar is a student at ACI member Knox College, Galesburg. A double major in biology and Latin American studies, she is the recipient of a scholarship from the Michele and Peter S. Willmott Minority Student Leadership Fund, through ACI. Days before Cancino-Aguilar began her freshman year, both her parents lost their jobs.  She tells the story of her ACI scholarship and how it gave her “a fighting chance.”

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Rockford University Peer Mentoring Program Goes Digital

by Leslie Joan Millenson, ACI Director, Special Projects

Facebook post

Men of Color Mentorship Program
Rockford University

When the COVID-19 emergency threatened to shutter Rockford University’s campus, Dr. Karen Walker acted fast to connect with the mentees in the school’s Men of Color Mentorship Program. Part of the network of ACI Peer Mentoring Programs on 11 member campuses around the state, Rockford’s Men of Color Mentorship Program provides three mentors to support 15 students at high risk for failure to thrive at college. Walker, transition coordinator for Rockford’s Center for Learning Strategies, knew the shift from classroom instruction to online learning plus dislocation from campus life could be a stumbling block for these young men.


“When all this started going down, our students were on spring break,” explains Walker, “so many were not checking their email, so social media really was really important for us.” Rockford’s Men of Color Mentoring Program has always had an active social media presence on both Facebook (see example, left) and Snapchat. To leverage the program’s social media presence in response to the COVID-19 emergency, Walker held a virtual meeting with the three mentors. “We used Zoom, and we got them totally comfortable with the platform,” Walker recalls. “Of course, these students are digital natives, so they picked it up really quickly.”


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