U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) delivered the keynote address at the seventh annual Latino Youth Conference held at AU on Saturday to promote higher education and the Latino community.
The conference, sponsored by AU’s Latin and American Student Organization, included workshops to emphasize the importance of a college education and motivate students to do well in school.
Sanchez, who earned her master’s in business education from AU in 1984, said the Latino population had changed a lot since she was last at the University. Sanchez offered advice to the students present, and told them planning, partners, perspiration and persistence were the key to her personal success.
“The prize at the end of the game goes to the person who keeps on going,” Sanchez said. “Never be afraid to do things that are different from what people expect you to do. You can do whatever you want in life.”
About 150 high school students, counselors, teachers and parents attended the conference, almost three times as many as attended last year, according to Moises Flores, a junior in the School of Public Affairs and the College of Arts and Sciences who directed the conference’s logistics.
Last year’s conference held the previous record for number of attendees. Sixty-five students registered, and 60 showed up, he said.
Alumni Deborah Espinola and Adriana Rodriguez hosted one of the educational workshops.
Rodriguez, who graduated in 2002 and works for the See Forever Foundation and Maya Angelou Public Charter School, has volunteered at the conference since its inception.
“This year’s conference is one of the best organized we’ve had,” Roderiguez said. “There are a lot of kids in the workshops and a lot of information that we have to cover in an hour, so it can sometimes be hard to do. The most important thing is that we keep the kids engaged.”
Rodriguez said the conference’s message is already spreading.
“The word is getting out about going to college,” she said. [The conference] shows them that they can go to college and graduate.”
Rodriguez said she would like to reach out to more students, as well as expand the recognition and support of LASO and the conference at AU.
“It would be really exciting to see a corporate sponsor, like SAT, Kaplan or the Princeton Review, come to the table to donate or provide services to this population,” said Rodriguez.
Gail Hanson, vice president of Campus Life, and David Owens, director of Multicultural Affairs and Helen Alatorre, the assistant director of Multicultural Affairs attended the event.
The conference was sponsored by LASO, the Latino Alumnus Chapter at AU, Multicultural Affairs, and the Community Service Center.