Latino Youth Summit expands to two-day event
By Kevin Milliken, La Prensa Correspondent
Changes to Toledo Public Schools also mean a new twist for this year’s Latino Youth Summit at the University of Toledo. The eleventh annual event now will be a two-day affair, as organizers add TPS sixth graders to the roster of attendees.
Sixth through eighth graders will attend the first day of the summit on Tuesday, May 7, 2013, while high school students will head to the UT campus the next day. Most of the programs are career-oriented, but graduating Latino seniors will receive budgeting and financial-oriented programming to better equip them for the transition to college and the real world “without mom and dad’s credit card.” Some students don’t even have a bank account, according to summit organizers.
“We try to meet the students at their grade level,” said Cecilia Rivera, UT Greek Life Coordinator and chair of the Latino Youth Summit (LYS) planning committee. “For the sixth graders, we’re going to feature some team-building activities, some anti-bullying, some self-esteem—trying to kick it off by preparing them for what their future will hold.”
Seventh graders will be bussed to the UT Health Science campus, where they’ll be exposed to pharmacy-oriented workshops. In past years, the students have made lotions, hand sanitizer, and performed blood pressure testing.
UT’s College of Engineering will host eighth grade students, where they will be exposed to careers where STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education is important. A retired UT professor organizes the activities for those students.
Students then get back together for lunch and a keynote speaker. Ms. Rivera indicated LYS alumni will talk to the group about how the summit helped them succeed in school and prepare them for college. Those alumni include UT students and their peers from other local colleges and universities.
“We’re going to bring back those recent alums who are still in the area and doing well,” she said. “It will be a panel discussion so these students can get on their level and tell them about the importance of education and how they succeeded, how they got to where they are. We’re really excited about that.”
The second day for high school students is conducted in similar fashion, with a welcome address, followed by individual career tracks by grade level. A keynote speaker addresses the students at lunchtime. Freshmen students will head to UT’s College of Business, along with a chemistry demonstration and health and wellness programming.
Sophomores will head to the Health Science campus and spend the day viewing possible medical professions. In the past, they’ve been exposed to the LifeFlight helicopter, plasticized organs, and simulation labs. The focus for juniors will be on how to prepare for college. There also will be a military component to their programming.
“Although we encourage them to go and get a college degree, we understand it’s not for everybody,” said Ms. Rivera. “We want them to be able to get some type of higher education, whether they choose to go the military route and then come back to get a degree or choose to go the trades route. We want to see them be successful in their future, because anymore now, a bachelor’s degree is like a high school diploma for places that now require a degree or some type of certification.”
United States Hispanic Leadership Institute has partnered with the Latino Youth Summit for a second straight year to provide a keynote speaker to participants. Jimmy Cabrera will talk to students about “What’s in Your Backpack?”: a presentation on “packing for success.”
Graduating seniors who registered ahead of time may win a Latino Youth Summit scholarship to attend UT in the fall. But to receive the scholarship, students must have at least a 3.0 GPA—but they’re provided one year of free housing and $2,000 per year over a four-year period. The Latino Student Union also presents a scholarship at the summit.
There also is a Parents’ Night on Wednesday, May 8 at the UT Student Recreation Center. About 25 to 30 Latino parents typically attend the follow-up event that’s designed to equip them to help prepare their high school students for their future, up to and including college. Parents of Latino college students and past youth summit participants will share their stories with the parents, to help them see the potential pitfalls and struggles ahead.
“It’s just really about being there and supporting the students,” said Ms. Rivera. “Parents won’t have all the answers, but we’re willing to give them the tools that they need and the questions they need to be asking to help their students on the path to success.”
LYS organizers expect 300 TPS students the first day of the summit and an additional 400 to attend the second day’s events. They emphasize the addition of the sixth grade component serves to expose students to careers earlier and more often over time.
“I think it prepares them for what’s to come,” said Ms. Rivera. “I think it gets them excited about education.”
“They may be thinking that high school and college are far ahead of them, but really it’s not that far. But they need to, right now, start developing smart study habits and getting on the right path now and not wait until their junior year to start worrying about their grades, because then they’re going to struggle to get that free money, those scholarships. We hear a lot of times that they can’t go to college because they can’t afford it—but there are so many scholarships out there that they don’t realize makes it possible to go to college.”
Parents or individuals with questions in advance of the Latino Youth Summit may call 419.530.4036 or email [email protected].