Hispanic Leadership Conference: inspiring Hispanic students to pursue their passions

The Concordia Courier

Concordia Irvine

By Jenna Hoffman | 10/28/2022

On Sat. Oct., 22 Concordia hosted the Hispanic Leadership Conference, which is an event that aims to prepare Latino high school students for college and beyond.

The Concordia website says “Since 2016, this FREE event has been inspiring community college and high school students to pursue academic goals for a bright future. The purpose of this event is to help attendees navigate the path to college. Students will discover that college is not a dream, it’s a plan.” 

The conference offers educational resources about college majors, financial aid, as well as inspiring first-generation speakers, industry professionals and a keynote. The annual event is open for students and parents, offering resources for both as the student prepares for their college journey.

The conference started at 8:30 a.m. and was a full day that included lectures, Q&As, an info fair and a campus tour. Nuestra Voz club president and senior, Viannet Villegas said that “The Hispanic Leadership Conference is a conference to promote college to [Latino] students here in Orange County.” She continued, “Statistically many Hispanic students do not pursue higher education due to financial issues or other familiar responsibilities. This conference gives great resources for families to better understand the logistics of what it's like being in college through the student's perspective and through the parent's perspective.”

The day started out with opening remarks and a speech from keynote speaker Henry Alonzo. Alonzo is the Founding Partner and Chief Creative Officer at Adarga Entertainment Group which is a company that is centered on providing music industry services to independent artists and record labels.

After that, there was a panel discussion called “Where I Started” that was led by Monica Colunga, Adriana Galdamez, and Maricela Rios-Faust. Colunga is the principal at Irvine High School, Galdamez is the Government Affairs Manager for COX and Rios-Faust is the CEO of a nonprofit called Human Options.

The conference attendees then separated so that the high school students heard from Concordia students about “College Life: What to Expect” while their parents attended a lecture called “You’re a College Parent: Now What?” The student panel included Viannet Villegas, Grace Monreal, Christopher Landa, and Elsa Mendonza and they spoke about their experiences in college and the benefits of pursuing higher education. They talked about how important it is to follow your passions and explore all of the different potential career paths.

An informational presentation about the financial aspects of college and how to pay for it followed. The panel informed students about all the resources they should take advantage of like FAFSA, scholarships and their school counselor. Finally, Concordia professors Gaby Espinosa, Lynda King, Kit Nagel, and Mike Schulteis talked to the students in the audience about academic life in college and how it differs from high school.

The audience then got to attend an info fair where they learned about different majors, programs and clubs at Concordia. This was followed by campus tours and a complimentary lunch at the cafeteria.

Giselle Rafael who is a member of Nuestra Voz volunteered at the conference along with many other club members. She said that the goal of the conference was to “encourage high school senior students to attend a four year college” while “also pointing out some of the perks of Concordia.” She said she hopes that by listening to the speakers the students know “that college is possible.”

If you have any questions about the event or are interested in volunteering next year contact event manager Sarah Martini at sarah.martini@cui.edu or contact Nuestra Voz club president Viannet Villegas at viannet.villegas@eagles.cui.edu.


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