It was a day focusing on empowerment and affirmation, helping students embrace their culture and their future.
"I saw different perspectives from Guatemalans, Mexicans, Brazilians, etc., and I felt that I wasn't alone in the goals to achieve academically," states Lakota West senior Isa Arantes, in explaining how she benefited from the recent experience.
Twelve Lakota West students participated in the Ohio Latino Student Summit hosted by the University of Cincinnati. The event had a two-fold purpose: to foster leadership skills for the attending students while also helping area colleges and high schools learn how to enhance the Latino/Hispanic student experience.
According to Lakota West teacher Bethany Dunn, one of the highlights was for Latino students to converse with professionals who encouraged them to overcome challenges they face and to actively seek information regarding their future academic and career paths.
Keynote speakers Dr. Maria Espinola and Mateo Raul Magdaleno shared messages of Latino resiliency, identity, and community. Students participated in several small group sessions and a panel discussion concluded the conference.
Sophomore Mei Castaneda Ceballos states, “I personally think my day at the conference was both important and meaningful. It gave me so much information about going to college and opened the doors to my future.”
In response to Mateo Magdaleno's motivational speech, Arantes says, “I'll never forget when all of us shouted 'I DON'T QUIT!' I took a picture with him and that picture is still the background of my phone.”
Dunn cites another direct effect of the summit, stating, “After attending the conference, one of our students went to her guidance counselor to start the process of attending college after graduation. She is a first generation student with neither parent finishing high school."