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As the former Hispanic Association of AT&T Employees, HISPA coordinated and hosted many youth conferences. HISPA has a wealth of experience and expertise and is eager to share “best practices” with other Latino Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). HISPA’s goal is to enable the ERGs that support our Role Model Program and introduce a youth component to their respective annual professional conferences. HISPA, as a project management organization, plans to offer an innovative agenda to students by developing strategic partnerships with local organizations and educational institutions. These events stimulate students to explore career options in a realistic manner and allow them the opportunity to interact with many role models representing many cultural backgrounds and careers through a one or two-day program.
The HISPA Role Model Bureau held its 2009 Youth Conference for 8th graders on Friday, June 12, 9:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., at the Frist Campus Center on the Princeton University campus. The “Take Action! Achieve Your Dreams” conference was co-sponsored by the Office of Human Resources at Princeton, and AT&T and its Hispanic Employee Resource Group, HACEMOS. The one-day event was attended by schools that participated in the HISPA Role Model Program during the 2008/2009 school year: McGinnis School (Perth Amboy), Paterson School #5 (Paterson), Red Bank Middle School (Red Bank), New Brunswick Middle School (New Brunswick).
The HISPA Youth Conference is designed to tackle the issue of high school drop-out rates by emphasizing the importance of a secondary education, and exposing the students to role models who have overcome barriers and become successful in a variety of careers.
The conference’s theme, “Take Action! Achieve Your Dreams”, reinforces HISPA’s goal of encouraging students to pursue higher education by having role models share their stories of achievement. Additionally, the students will learn about career possibilities in a variety of fields, including academia, public policy, business, science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
San Antonio, TX – June 20, 2008
HISPA proudly sponsored the 2nd Annual HACEMOS Youth Conference in San Antonio, Texas on June 20. With the theme, “Life after High School,” students were offered an invaluable opportunity to spend a day with many role models representing diverse cultures and professional backgrounds, while learning about the importance of education.
The HISPA Youth Conference is a component of HISPA’s programs which offers Employee Resource Groups (ERG) an opportunity to collaborate with us during their professional conferences. ERGs exist within many of the country’s largest corporations. ERG conferences attract a large group of professionals and therefore provide a golden opportunity for students to have access to the professionals collective advice. The main objectives of the Youth Conference are to expose the students to as many role models as possible and to raise awareness about the importance of higher education.
The 2nd Annual HACEMOS Youth Conference started with opening remarks delivered by the president of HISPA, Dr. Ivonne Diaz-Claisse, who shared her passion for Math and the importance of following one’s dreams. The program continued with the keynote speaker, Judge Monica E. Guerrero, Current Administrative Judge for Bexar county court judges, who enthusiastically shared her life and educational experiences and kept the students engaged and interested. “I really enjoyed Judge Monica E. Guerrero. I thought she was really interesting and I could relate to a lot to the things she was saying.” – from students’ feedback forms.
Students were then divided into groups to attend various workshops. Here are some of the comments from the students: "The Mathematical Journey session was very enjoyable and increased my interest in Math. ROPES was very interactive which I enjoyed, it was fun and educational" - "These workshops had fun activities and showed how obstacles can get in our way but we can overcome them." - "True colors helps you get better insight on yourself and others. It helps you see why people are the way they are. Amazing!"
After the workshops students joined the role models to share lunch and listen to Joaquin Castro, TX House of Representatives District 125. “Both speakers were very inspirational. I enjoyed listening to their advice on how they overcame their obstacles.”- “I love the way they shared their experiences because it makes you relate and be able to see how they are no different than you are.” – “I had so much fun and I gained knowledge and valuable advice. Thank you.”
The role models focused on sharing with the students the importance of education by showcasing their careers and encouraging them to aim high and pursue higher education. The sessions were well attended and students’ feedback was positive: ¨I really got to know about what colleges I should attend¨ - ¨I really enjoyed listening to my role models. I had a chance to talk to them as friends instead of a stranger to stranger talk. "They were all informational and came with a warm feeling of friendship"- “Provided us with good information on how to apply for scholarships and how the college experience was for them.”
Dr. Díaz-Claisse said at the end of the conference ¨HISPA is extremely grateful to all the role models that join in this effort, this youth conference was a team effort and the San Antonio HACEMOS leadership team was wonderful to work with. HISPA is thankful to HACU and HSF that join this initiative by providing informational material and joining in the event. I am honored to have had the opportunity to be here, all of us joining together to inspire our future generation”.
In June 2007, HISPA teamed with AT&T’s HACEMOS organization and hosted 40 students during their first 2007 HACEMOS Youth Conference, the theme of which was “Life After High School.” HISPA sponsored and led the coordination of this event which included exhibits from ten local Universities/Colleges and three organizations, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF), Hispanic College Fund (HCF) and NACME. HISPA is currently coordinating AT&T’s HACEMOS Youth Conference in San Antonio to be held this summer.
“What part of the conference impacted you the most and why?”
My life after high school is very important to me and the Youth Conference really helped me to understand what I need to do. The part of the conference that impacted me the most was when I heard Miguel Del Valle speaking. He was telling us to find our passion, what we enjoy doing the most and let our passion determine what we should do in our life after high school.
Other speakers were talking about financing college, making the decision to go to college, and how to decide what to major in. After hearing Miguel Del Valle, the only thing that I could focus on was: what is my passion? Recently, I have been having a hard time deciding what I am going to major in. Up to now, I have been asking myself what I would be good at instead of what I would enjoy doing. I had not really thought about what I liked doing because I found it easier to focus on what I am good at. For example, one of the subjects in school that I do not like at all is science.
Even though I cannot stand it and do not enjoy learning it, I still got an A in both semesters and I was good at it. If my job had anything to do with science in the future, I would probably do well but not as well as if I actually enjoyed it. Thanks to the speakers, when I find something that I think I would enjoy doing, I know I will have to make sure that I will wake up every morning wanting to go to work.
It seemed like everyone already knew that they had to find their passion in life in order to decide their future; I didn’t. I guess somewhere inside of me I did know, but I just didn’t ask myself that question. Every time I was asked what I thought I would want to do in the future, I would get really nervous because I did not know what to answer. I still do not know what to say but now I know what I need to focus on.
As a result, I am so thankful for going to the Hacemos Youth Conference because I now know that I just have to look around and try different things in order to find what I love to do. I am also very thankful that my parents support me in all my decisions because that really plays a big role in my future. Miguel del Valle was an inspiration to me and I hope one day I can tell him and thank him."