The seventh annual Garden Grove Unified School District Latino Unidos Conference was held Jan. 11 on the campus of California State University, Fullerton with more than 300 students in attendance. The conference is organized by district-level Latinos Unidos student board members to provide leadership training and help students prepare for academic, personal, and lifelong success.
During the leadership conference, students attended a networking fair and 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.
“This event is preparing the next generation of Latinx leaders with important tools for lifelong success,” said Board of Education President Walter Muneton who presented about overcoming obstacles. “Students leave the conference feeling empowered about issues they are passionate about, proud of their shared cultural background, and hopeful about their futures.”
A tour of the college campus was provided by students from CSUF’s Hermanos and Hermanas Unidos. Additionally, students attended workshops led by Latinos Unidos alumni on topics like goal setting, Latinx scholarships, embracing biliteracy, social media and mental health, the pathway to college, overcoming obstacles, and others. The event is sponsored by the Orange County United Way, one of the district’s longtime supporters of Latinos Unidos.
GGUSD Assistant Superintendent of K-12 Educational Services Dr. Lorena Sanchez opened up the conference by defining the essence of what the Latinos Unidos club stands for and explaining the foundation by which it was created. Students also heard from Dr. Feliza Ortiz-Licon from the California State Board of Education; GGUSD Board of Education Trustees; and Sergio Contreras of Orange County United Way.
The Latinos Unidos program was launched to provide a system of supports to GGUSD Latinos Unidos 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.
With help from a club advisor, each of the district’s eight high schools, as well as several intermediate and elementary schools, have visible, active Latinos Unidos clubs. The clubs help 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 on March 13 at 5:30 p.m. with food, activities, and performances at Los Amigos High School.