More than 300 elementary, intermediate, and high school students from Garden Grove Unified School District participated in the district’s fifth annual Latinos Unidos Leadership Conference at California State University, Fullerton on Saturday. The conference is organized by district-level Latinos Unidos student board members to provide leadership training and empower students with leadership skills and opportunities.
“The Latinos Unidos Leadership Conference continues to grow each year because our students are hungry for resources and tools to sharpen their leadership skills,” said Teri Rocco, Board of Education trustee. “The energy at the conference is contagious and students leave the conference excited about making a difference at their schools and in their communities.”
The event kicked off with remarks from GGUSD Superintendent Gabriela Mafi, Adriana Badillo with CSUF, and Sergio Contreras (also a member of the Westminster City Council) with the Orange County United Way, the conference sponsor and longtime supporter of Latinos Unidos.
During the conference, students attended a networking fair, exchanged business cards with area professionals, learned about community resources and Latino organizations, and were introduced to potential part-time job opportunities after high school.
A tour of the college campus was provided by students from CSUF’s Hermanos and Hermanas Undios. Additionally, students attended workshops led by Latinos Unidos alumni on topics like club branding, cultural consciousness, DACA and immigrant rights, financial aid, goal setting, navigating the path to college as Latino/Latina, organizing in the Latino community, successful presentation strategies, and leadership in the 21st century. Board of Education Trustee Walter Muñetón also delivered a presentation entitled “Latino Males in Education: Perspectives, Challenges and Empowerment.”
The Latinos Unidos program was launched to provide a unique system of supports to GGUSD Latinos students through tutoring, mentorship, community service, college preparation and cultural events. More than 50 percent of GGUSD students are Hispanic/Latino, more than 75 percent are socioeconomically disadvantaged and more than 80 percent have a second language background.
Students are elected by their peers to serve on the district-level LU Board. The 2017 Board included Yazmin Felipe, President; José Zamora, Vice President of Community Service; Luis Zamora, Secretary; and Fernando Villasenor, Treasurer. The newly-elected board includes Aimee Andrade, President; Maria Rosales, Vice President of Public Relations; Lizbeth Garduno, Vice President of Community Service; Yojhann Estrada, Secretary; Julian Velazquez, Treasurer; and Pedro Canessa, Historian.
With help from a club advisor, each of the district’s eight high schools has visible, active Latinos Unidos clubs. The club helps embrace and honor student’s rich cultural heritage and provide them with a framework to achieve success.
Students are planning a Latinos Unidos Cultural Night with food, activities, and performances at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, March 9 at Los Amigos High School. There will also be Districtwide Latinos Unidos Garage Sale Fundraiser for student scholarships on Saturday, Feb. 17, and Saturday, April 21.