The University of La Verne hosted the Latino Education Access and Development Conference on campus Sept. 27.
The all-day event, designed to help Latino students from middle school through college age achieve their goals, brought together various Latino organizations.
Featured speakers included University president Devorah Lieberman, state assembly member Roger Hernandez, Power 106 radio host Wendy Carrillo and many others.
Hundreds of students learned about leadership and scholarship opportunities and about mentorship.
“Our goal is to connect and build stronger relations with organization designed to support Latino students,” said University Spokeswoman Alisha Rosas.
Rosas said that Latinos often do not have the support and mentoring they need to succeed in college, and the LEAD Conference was designed to connect students with some of those resources.
“We’re breaking ground because it’s big exposure for the Latino communities,” said Multicultural Affairs Director Daniel Loera.
“It sends a message to students and parents that college and even private universities like La Verne are possible.”
During the panel discussion “Increasing Scholarship Awareness,” organizations such as Hispanic College Fund and Esperanza Scholarship Foundation gave information on scholarship applications and tips on how to make these applications stand out.
“There is funding you just have to be consistent and find the right match,” said Charissa Gonzales, an executive of Making Education the Answer Foundation, said.
The conference offered a lot of good information, sophomore biology major Diana Gutierrez said.
“Money is an issue, but not if you really want to go to school, there’s always a way,” Gutierrez said.
One of the panels addressed the importance of having a mentor.
“In an academic setting it is important to have somebody to reflect back to,” Loera said.
Among the panelists was assistant professor of organizational leadership Linda DeLong, who shared her own experience with a high school mentor.
DeLong said that when she was in high school she wasn’t planning to go to college until her mentor asked her.
“Why not college? Because they believe in you, then you believe in yourself,” DeLong said.
The panel also addressed a lack of people willing to mentor, and encouraged the students to eventually return to their communities to mentor younger students.
The final speaker of the conference was motivational speaker and author of “Leadership for Today: It’s Not Just What You Know, It’s Who You Know,” Gabe Veas.
Veas told his story about growing up in an under-privileged family that shopped at thrift stores.
He said he dreamed of one day going to USC–where he did eventually go.
Veas focused on networking and the importance of students keeping in touch with successful people they meet.
“The best jobs are not advertised, and at the end the jobs go to some dude that knew somebody,” Veas said.
After the conference, there was a resource fair at Sneaky Park where students were able to talk to speakers and organizations for more information.
“I liked how they put a lot of emphasis in mentoring and scholarship programs,” a junior from Aquinas High School, Samantha Romero, said.
“I learned that there is more than one way to get financial aid other than FAFSA.”
Mariela Patron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.