LULAC and SeaWorld San Diego Empower Latino Youth at Far West Regional Youth Conference
Posted on 10/05/2016 @ 12:45 AM
By: Cristina Sandoval, LULAC National Workforce Development Programs Coordinator
LULAC is dedicated to cultivating the next generation of leaders by exposing underserved youth to opportunities that can shape their future career goals. In April of 2016, LULAC hosted the Far West Regional LULAC Youth Conference in partnership with SeaWorld San Diego. The two-day leadership summit provided middle and high school students with the resources and tools to become leaders in their communities while exposing them to STEM opportunities.
A total of 85 youth from 5 different states were hosted overnight on SeaWorld grounds at their Adventure Day Camp dormitories, giving them a taste of the college dormitory life. As the largest ethnic group in the United States, it is important to provide empowering opportunities that encourage Latinos to pursue higher education.
Over the course of two days, SeaWorld San Diego exposed the youth to numerous STEM career opportunities that created unique opportunities for youth to explore science through interactive experiences such as feeding bat rays, dissecting squids, and hearing from SeaWorld’s own marine biologists. Through the generosity of SeaWorld, Latino youth from underserved communities participated in this unforgettable experience. As a result of these experiences, the youth developed an interest in pursuing STEM careers. One 16-year-old participant stated that she “enjoyed this program not only because it was fun, but because it opened [her] eyes to career opportunities in marine biology.”
This summit was the third event in a longstanding partnership with SeaWorld San Diego. Previously, SeaWorld hosted two overnight camps where several dozen youth were inspired and empowered to connect with animals, care for the natural world, and pursue a career in marine science. A total of 87 students from 4 cities in California participated in this interactive experience with marine animals and were presented with the opportunity to win a $500 scholarship to kick-start their college career.
It’s safe to say that these events were a success with all who attended. A student who attended the camp happily said that it “was very helpful with information on how to help sea creatures. Thank you SeaWorld and LULAC for inspiring me to do my part!”
Click here to see a short clip of the highlights of the Far West Regional LULAC Youth Conference and the overnight camps.
Cristina Sandoval is the LULAC National Workforce Development Programs Coordinator.
Investing in Students Early to Ensure Future Success
Posted on 08/16/2016 @ 12:45 AM
By: Jacqueline Hernandez, LULAC National Community Outreach Fellow
In order for Latino students to gain access to higher-paying jobs, it is absolutely critical that higher education and career options after high school are discussed with students early in their high school career. Academic counseling in high schools can help students explore the different options they have once they graduate. In California, Senate Bill No. 451 attempted to expand the role of a school counselor to focus on academic counseling as well as career and vocational counseling; however, not enough was done to ensure that schools had the adequate resources to adjust to this change. Although this bill provides a positive resource to students, not all schools have similar opportunities due to the ways our public schools are funded.
Funding for public school varies by location. Those in low-income communities receive less funding compared to those in high-income communities because of the sources of public funds. In the United States, funding for public schools comes from federal, state, and local sources. Almost half of the funds come from local property taxes, which gives rise to discrepancies in schools between wealthy and impoverished communities. Less funding decreases the opportunities for schools to offer beneficial resources to their students.
Public school funding discrepancies place limitations on the resources that each school can provide, greatly affecting schools in low-income communities. For many vulnerable communities, educational counseling is absolutely necessary for informing students on the different possibilities after graduation. Students can benefit from the guidance and advice they receive from counselors. Despite some schools not having adequate funding to provide students with necessary resources, there are programs that have been created by community stakeholders to help students become leaders and learn about higher education opportunities.
¡Adelante! America is a program developed by LULAC with support from AT&T that encourages Latino youth to develop leadership skills while preparing them to attend college. The program helps improve academic skills while focusing on high school completion. ¡Adelante! America motivates students to become leaders via mentorship opportunities and guest speakers. In addition, students are exposed to educational field trips, conferences, hands-on workshops and volunteerism to help them make career choices as well as prepare them for higher education. The benefit of having one-on-one academic counseling sessions allows students to expand their personal development. Absolutely critical to the success of the program is creating a motivational environment where students are encouraged to further their careers beyond high school graduation. Since it launched in 2008, ¡Adelante! America has encouraged and mentored over 10,500 leaders.
These types of programs can benefit low-income communities by allowing schools to give their students the best motivational environment. Through programs like ¡Adelante! America, LULAC will continue to ensure that more Latinos have access to a quality education that will lay the foundation for a successful future.
Jacqueline Hernandez is a Community Outreach Fellow at the LULAC Sacramento Regional Office in California. She graduated from the University of California, Davis with a degree in Human Development and a minor in Chicano/a Studies.