UT’s Latino Youth Summit to be held May 7
By Kevin Milliken, La Prensa Correspondent
Hundreds of Latino teens from Toledo Public Schools (TPS) will be exposed to career and college prep information during the 12th annual Latino Youth Summit, Wed., May 7, 2014, at the University of Toledo.
While last year’s event was a two-day affair, the harsh winter forced drastic changes to the TPS academic year and prompted scheduling conflicts with the district. As a result, the summit was scaled back to one day this year.
“The one downfall this year is lower numbers. The snow days are really going to hurt us this year as we will not see any TPS elementary school attendance because they are making up their OGT tests and the change came too late to switch the entire program,” explained Cecilia Rivera, UT Greek Life coordinator and Latino Youth Summit co-chair.
The program is geared directly toward the Latino student, with a full school day on a university campus with college professors or students as presenters and guides. Results of studies show that preparation for college success needs to begin early and must be sustained throughout their school years.
Between 500 and 600 Latino junior high and high school youths attended last year’s summit.
According to the Latino Youth Summit website, one of the summit’s goals is to address the Latino achievement gap in northwest Ohio and the reality of a growing Latino population. The summit seeks to arm youth and families with college planning and career path information through sessions about pre-high school and pre-college coursework and information about various occupational fields. Emphasis is placed on the importance of skills in science, math and technology in today's job market.
“It gives the students that one-on-one time to ask questions and see firsthand some of the amazing things our students experience at UT every day,” said Ms. Rivera. “Most of our volunteers are UT alumni, staff and students, so it gives them great perspective.”
Students are divided into specific programming tracks by grade level. Each track has specific activities for each age group, which include hands-on pharmacy and engineering workshops, team-building and self-esteem building exercises, test taking presentations, how to succeed in school by peer panels, and a college fair.
Latino students are given the opportunity to meet representatives from colleges that comprise ECHHO (Educators in College Helping Hispanics Onward). The college fair allows students to obtain information pertaining to college admission and scholarship opportunities. The summit provides ECHHO members with an opportunity to interact with the largest gathering of Latino youth from Northwest Ohio.
Sam Centellas, executive director at La Casa de Amistad in South Bend, Indiana will serve as the keynote speaker. He has worked as a higher education professional at a number of universities and also served as the national president of the Sigma Lamda Beta international fraternity. Ms. Rivera saw him speak at a conference and felt his message would fit the summit well.
“This presentation talks about the significance of family, tradition and the importance for people to work together and drive towards common goals,” she said.
Eight lucky seniors who plan to attend UT in the fall will be awarded scholarships at the Latino Youth Summit. The scholarship covers a year of on- campus housing and provides $8,000 in tuition, to be split up in $2,000 increments over 4 years.
Fatima Pervaiz served as the other co-chairperson for the Latino Youth Summit. The committee each year reads as a who’s who list of Toledo-area Latino educators, among them: José Luna, José Treviño, Mary Morales, José Rosales, Angie Durán, Felicia Guerrero, Betty Anzaldua, Aleiah Jones, Natalie Guzmán, Michele Martínez, Melanie Muñoz, Ana Fackelman, and Angela López.
The Parent’s Night component of the program also has been removed from the program this year. Poor attendance for the evening event has plagued that portion of the Latino Youth Summit in recent years.
But a little-known component of the Latino Youth Summit extends into the summer for the benefit of migrant farmworker children. That summer program has two components, one of them aimed at elementary school-age children. According to Ms. Rivera, it’s a daytime program where different camps come to the engineering side of campus for a couple of hours of hands-on workshops. Age-appropriate activities are planned, so that younger children do easier things like flashlights made from batteries and the older kids do something more advanced.
The other component is an overnight program focused on math and science aimed at students in grades 8-12. Those older students spend a day-and-a-half on the UT campus doing workshops in chemistry, engineering, and pharmacy.
“They get to spend the night in a residence hall, utilize the rec center and then we typically take them somewhere in the city for dinner,” explained Ms. Rivera. “Last year we did a catered dinner on the Sandpiper boat. This event is grant-funded through a partnership with the Ohio Migrant Education Center.”
Parents or individuals with questions in advance of the Latino Youth Summit may call 419.530.4036 or email [email protected].