How To Change the World? Students to Ask Politicians, Activists Two state legislators, two civic activists coming to answer students' questions Feb. 4

Two National Louis University students who want to change the world will facilitate a discussion with Chicago-area leaders who have taken steps to make society better. The Monday, Feb. 4 event will feature Illinois Sen. Robert Peters, a Democrat from the 13th District; Illinois Rep. Lamont J. Robinson Jr., a Democrat from the 5th District; Alex Boutros, a community organizer with the nonprofit Chicago Votes, and Karla Castilla-Morin,  manager of the Issues in Action program with the nonprofit Mikva Challenge.

NLU’s Civic Engagement Center organized the event, and students Sarah Jolly and Cynthia Reyes, who have both been active in volunteerism and making their communities better, will lead it. It will provide a conversation with Chicago-based, civically and community engaged young professionals and elected officials and our NLU community around the questions:  how I got started in community engagement work, what is there to do, why does community engagement matter, and what can we all  do to make the world better through civic engagement?  

Also, first-year Undergraduate College students in Introduction to Political Science (HIS 102) drafted questions for the panel about issues they care about.

How to participate

WHEN: Monday, Feb. 4,  3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

WHERE: National Louis University’s Chicago Campus, 122 S. Michigan Ave., in the second-floor Atrium. The event will be Zoomed to Wheeling Campus Room 310, and anyone may participate with the Zoom link at:

WHO: See panelists’ and facilitators’ bios below.

COST: Free.

Profiles of the speakers

Alex Boutros is a community organizer with Chicago Votes, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that works specifically with young people of color in Chicago to get them excited and engaged in elections and civic participation in the many forms it can take. The 2019 Chicago municipal elections will be the second election cycle that Alex will work on with Chicago Votes.

Karla Castilla-Morin’s passion for social justice and youth voice began as a teen Mikva Challenge Foundation member when she met with her alderman to express the need for affordable housing in her quickly changing neighborhood and was part of a group of young people fighting for passage of The Dream Act. At Mikva, Karla runs the Issues to Action program providing Chicago middle and high school teachers with support to help their students complete action civic projects. She hopes to create a space where young people know their voice matters and leave feeling empowered. Fun fact: At the age of 7, with her mom, Karla was already lobbying for bilingual education.

State Senator Robert Peters represents Illinois’s 13th Senate District and resides in Hyde Park. The Democrat, who was appointed to replace Kwame Raoul when Raoul won election as Illinois attorney general last November, is an adoptee whose biological mother struggled with addiction during the war on drugs. Peters’ adopted parents were a civil rights lawyer and a social worker. As a child, Robert struggled with deafness and a speech impediment and believes that it was his community that helped him through his many struggles. As an organizer with Reclaim Chicago, Robert helped organize the passage of a minimum wage increase in suburban Cook County and put pressure on Cook County judges to reform bail. Robert is committed to investing in our communities because he knows firsthand that we can’t do things on our own but we can do a lot together.

State Representative Lamont J. Robinson Jr. represents Illinois’s 5th House District, which runs from Goethe Street on Chicago’s North Side to 80th Street on the South Side. He is a resident of Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood and a lifelong Chicagoan. He made history as the first out LGBTQ African-American to be elected to the Illinois General Assembly. He has an undergraduate degree in business marketing from Clark Atlanta University and an MBA degree from National Louis University (go Eagles!) and became a licensed insurance agent and owner of The Robinson & Caban Insurance Group. He also was a business professor at Harold Washington College and Director of the Kappa Leadership Institute in Chicago, which provides guidance to young men and prepares them to go to college.

NLU Undergraduate Student Facilitators’ Biographies

Sarah Jolly is an National Louis University junior majoring in psychology. Sarah has pursued a service and education career since joining AmeriCorps in 2009, when she worked to improve dropout rates in high schools across Chicago. She has since been working in and outside of the classroom to affect policy, programming and equity with the non-profit organizations Youth and Opportunity United and the Partnership for College Completion. The current head of NLU’s Social Justice Club, Sarah is working to create new channels for student expression and voice.

Cynthia Reyes is an NLU junior majoring in business. A Chicago native and active student organizer, Cynthia works to enrich her community through literature and leadership. She leads two student organizations, NLU’s UGC Book Club and ALPFA, a premier business organization expanding opportunities for Latinx leadership in the global market, dedicated to promoting academic excellence and leadership among Hispanic students seeking to pursue and learn about careers within the global economy.