More than 1,300 Latino teens to gather for Emory youth conference | Events
ATLANTA -- More than 1,300 Latino teens from across the state will assemble at Emory University on Saturday, Nov. 9 for a day full of motivational speakers, workshops and activities geared to motivating students to go to college and pursue careers.
Middle and high school students will be joined by parents, teachers and hundreds of volunteers for the Latin American Association’s 14th Annual Latino Youth Leadership Conference, for a total of nearly 2,000 participants.
“The Latino Youth Leadership Conference is a powerful mix of culturally relevant motivational sessions and grade-specific information on colleges and careers that helps prepare Latino youth to reach their full potential,” said LAA Executive Director Jeffrey Tapia. “It is important for Latino and Latina students to understand that they can go on to college and pursue meaningful careers. The majority of the students will be the first in their family to go to college.”
The conference, which will be held at Emory University for the third consecutive year, is once again presented by AT&T.
“As a wireless leader, we can’t ignore the challenges our youth face today, particularly those who are underprivileged and don’t think they have the resources they need to succeed,” said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility. “Supporting the great work of organizations like the Latin American Association is just one way we show our youth that they can dream big and have brilliant futures. It is our responsibility to mentor our young men and women and steer them in the right path to college readiness and success.”
As part of its mission to empower Latinos to achieve their educational, social and economic aspirations, the Latin American Association (LAA) is deeply committed to education through its Latino Academic Achievement Initiative. The LAA runs a year-round program for 130 students at Sequoyah Middle School and Cross Keys High School in DeKalb County that offers students tutoring, mentoring, leadership development and cultural enrichment. The goal is to ensure that students go on to high school, graduate and then go to college. The LAA also trains educators and organizations that serve youth on best practices in working with Latino students and families.
Though overall high school dropout rates have been declining, Latinos tend to drop out of high school at a higher rate than other groups. Nationally, the high school dropout rate among Latinos is 17 percent, nearly three times as high as it is among whites (6 percent) and nearly double the rate among blacks (9 percent), according to the Pew Research Center.
Through its youth program and the annual Latino Youth Leadership Conference, the LAA and its partners are working to decrease Latino dropout rates and close the achievement gap.
“Latino students represent a significant and growing portion of the children, adolescents and young adults in our society who must be well educated in order for us to meet the challenges of our future,” said Dr. Vialla Hartfield-Mendez, director of Engaged Learning for the Center for Community Partnerships at Emory University. “The Latino Youth Leadership Conference is part of a larger effort at Emory and in Atlanta to better address the challenges of both immigration and education.”
At the youth conference on Nov. 9, shortly after 7 a.m., hundreds of students will be arriving by school bus at Emory’s Woodruff Physical Education Center, where they will be welcomed with breakfast courtesy of McDonald’s. During opening ceremonies, which start at 9 a.m., students will get a chance to listen to nationally renowned youth motivational speaker Gabe Salazar and Dr. Alicia Abella, assistant vice president of technical research at AT&T. Sonia Nazario, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and author of the book “Enrique's Journey” will be conducting several workshops, including one workshop on storytelling.
Middle and high school students will spend the day at workshops featuring topics such as how to apply for scholarships and financial aid; how to complete the college application; how to build your brand; and how to pursue careers in science. They will also attend a College and Career Fair, where colleges such as Georgia Tech and Georgia State, and organizations such as AT&T, Delta, GE, Univision 34 Atlanta and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund will have exhibits.
Among the more than 90 schools from all over Georgia represented at the conference are Cartersville Middle School, Buford Middle School, Sweetwater Middle School, Duluth High School, Berkmar High School and North Paulding High School.
Conference participants will be encouraged to interact with speakers and fellow students on social media by using the designated hashtag #LatinoYouthConference.