The 10th annual Latino Youth Summit to promote higher education to junior high and high school students of Latino or Hispanic heritage in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan will take place Tuesday, May 8, at The University of Toledo.
“The summit is a way for us to reach students as early as seventh grade to show them yes, you can go to college, and this is how,” said Cecilia Rivera, UT Greek life coordinator and chair of the Latino Youth Summit Committee. “We want to promote higher education — if not college, some kind of trade — because it’s incredibly difficult to get a job with only a high school diploma.”
The summit will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Student Union on Main Campus, with some tracks at the College of Engineering and on Health Science Campus.
This year, the University is partnering with the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute, a national organization promoting education, civic participation and leadership development for Latinos. The institute hosts the largest Latino leadership conference in the country that has attracted more than 6,000 attendees.
As a partner, the institute has arranged for speakers for the Latino Youth Summit workshops and is sponsoring this year’s keynote speaker, Roy Juarez Jr., a motivational speaker who encourages youth to hold on to their dreams. The institute also included the local event in its Student Leadership Series.
“We’re so excited to partner with the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute because it’s important to help this program get the national recognition it deserves,” Rivera said. “There are similar programs in the U.S., but there aren’t really any comparable programs in Ohio.”
Rivera has been involved with the Latino Youth Summit since her senior year as a student at UT in 2003, when she first volunteered at the event. It is her first year as the committee chair.
“The event’s become progressively bigger since our first year,” she said. “It has even started attracting student groups from outside the Toledo Public Schools, where it began. We have had groups from the Catholic schools, a few of the suburban schools, even from Temperance, Mich., and places like Archbold and Swanton.”
During the summit, students meet for a welcome and quick breakfast before separating into different tracks organized by grade level. Workshop tracks include introductions to the College of Pharmacy and the College of Engineering, money management and a new track about social media.
The University awards an annual scholarship for one attendee. The scholarship, which is given to a student who attended the summit during his or her senior year, amounts to $2,000 per year for four years as well as one year of housing at UT.
The summit is organized by a 15-member committee, and the event numbers some 100 volunteers who are students and staff members.
“It was exciting to put on the program together, but it’s really great to see so many people willing to help,” Rivera said. “There’s been such a great response from volunteers and the community in the past 10 years, and that is so wonderful to see.”