Latino youth conference spotlights Emory's outreach

By Beverly Clark | Emory Report | Nov. 29, 2012

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This is the second year Emory has hosted the Latino Youth Leadership Conference, designed to help motivate Latino youth to graduate from high school and attend college. Emory Photo/Video.

Nearly 1,200 college-bound Latino middle and high school students from across metro Atlanta and the state will gather on the Emory campus Saturday, Dec. 1 for the 13th Annual Latino Youth Leadership Conference (LYLC), "The Stepping Stone for Your Future: Identity, Knowledge and Leadership."

This is the second year in a row the University has hosted the conference, which is a major initiative of Atlanta's Latin American Association. The LYLC is designed to help motivate middle school and high school Latino youth to graduate from high school and attend college.

Bringing the conference to the campus also brings higher visibility to Emory's engagement through research, teaching and community service with the local Latino community, says Vialla Hartfield-Mendez, director of engaged learning for the Center for Community Partnerships.  

The event will involve faculty, staff and students from across the University, including members of the Office of Community and Diversity (the main campus sponsor), the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and the Center for Community Partnerships.  

The conference on Saturday features dozens of breakout sessions on topics such as immigration, deferred action, bilingualism and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Sessions address how to write the college essay, how to prepare stress-free for the SAT and how to apply for scholarships. There will also be a career and college fair and a workshop for eighth-graders on transitioning into high school.

"Emory's partnership with the Latin American Association in co-sponsoring and hosting the Latino Youth Leadership Conference is part of a larger collaboration between the two institutions that has recently focused more and more on education," says Hartfield-Mendez.

"Efforts such as the LYLC bring us together, and also make it possible for students, faculty and staff at Emory to address close to home the very issues that will affect all our futures: the education of young people who are increasingly Latino, health disparities that affect all our society, and community development that will determine economic and social viability in the decades to come and that must be inclusive of the Hispanic/Latino community members," she says.  

Panel to explore future of education

In conjunction with the LYLC, a panel discussion on "Latinos, Education & The Future of the US: Crisis and Possibility" will be held Thursday, Nov. 28 at 7:30 p.m. in the Center for Ethics, room 102. The panel is sponsored by the Academic Learning Community (ALC) on Latinos, Higher Education and Emory, an initiative co-founded by Hartfield-Mendez and Karen Stolley, chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.  

The panel will be moderated by John Latting, Emory's dean of admissions. Panelists include: Frances Contreras, associate professor of education studies, University of California – San Diego; Luis R. Fraga, associate vice provost for faculty advancement at the University of Washington and the Russell F. Stark University Professor of Political Science and director, Diversity Research Institute; and James Montoya, vice president of relationship development for The College Board.

The ALC is co-sponsored by the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence, the Laney Graduate School and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.  Participants in the ALC come from across all schools and other areas of the University, and many have significant experience working with Latin American and Hispanic/Latino populations in various settings.    

These events and others, such as the Latino Health Summit at Emory last spring, are part of a larger effort to focus the attention at Emory on the Hispanic/Latino population, its complexity, and the contributions that this community can make to Emory as well as vice versa, Hartfield-Mendez says.  

"We are challenging ourselves to better understand the national (and international or trans-national) contexts for Hispanics/Latinos in this country, and to begin to concretely address the deficits of knowledge and connection to this community that exist at Emory, at all levels," says Hartfield-Mendez. "The goals of the group are to understand clearly the various ways in which Emory is already engaged with the Latino/Hispanic population, but also where the points of leverage for better and more effective engagement are."