Latino Students Sharpen Leadership Skills and "STEM" Career Path at LNESC Conference

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The 16th Washington Youth Leadership Seminar drew 52 high school juniors and seniors to Washington, D.C., from across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. While the program focuses on leadership skill development, this year’s session highlighted the importance of technology on the Latino community.

At Milwaukee’s Pius XI High school, Sydney Lee plays volleyball and volunteers in the community and Wisconsin political campaigns.

On the West Coast, Cecellia Rasso already is a leader at Colton High School in California. She is a member of the National Honor Society, is an Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) student, and is involved in several groups including Girls Con Ganas, and Inland Empire Future Leaders.

But, after recently attending the Washington Youth Leadership Seminar (WYLS), sponsored by LULAC National Education Services Centers, Inc. (LNESC), these students and dozens others have pledged to do even more.

“My next step to carry out what I learned is to start an organization for young girls in my community to help them realize their worth and to help them become better advocates for not only themselves but for their own community,” Lee said.

“For me, I gained confidence and leadership skills to help me here in my community, and I know for sure I will start a youth LULAC here in Colton, California, not only helping my friends but helping others,” added Rasso.

The 16th annual youth leadership seminar drew 52 high school juniors and seniors to Washington, D.C., from across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. While the program focuses on leadership skill development, this year’s session highlighted the importance of technology on the Latino community.

Students participated in meetings that included members of Congress and technology experts from the U.S. Army, Google, and AT&T.

Studies have shown that while Latino students are the fastest growing demographic in education and are increasing their entrance into STEM college program, the college degree attainment rate lags behind white and Asian American students.

“Technology can deliver economic and education benefits to Latinos of all ages, and we think we added to the students’ understanding of the need to get involved in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields,” said Richard Roybal, LNESC executive director.

Discussion panelists included Paul Gomez, Director of Corporate Affairs Constituent Relations at Walmart; Bertha Guerrero, Director of National Advocacy at Hispanic Federation; Emilio Gonzalez, Vice President for Wireless Public Policy & Strategic Alliances at Verizon; Major John Whitfield, Chief of Operations, Cyber Proponent at U. S. Army Cyber Command; and Transito Macias, Section Manager with Nissan North America.

Lee, the Milwaukee student, was among the many who got the clear message. “I do plan on taking STEM courses in college. The STEM presentations were really helpful because they assured me that I am already on the right path, because I am currently taking STEM courses.”

The seminar culminated with LNESC’s commemorative 40th anniversary gala at the Newseum, which included speakers from LULAC and LNESC leadership and corporate sponsors. The 2013 WYLS was made possible through the support of its presenting sponsor the U.S. Army along with program co-sponsors the Walmart Foundation and Nissan North America.

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About LNESC:

LULAC National Educational Service Centers, Inc. (LNESC) was established in 1973 by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) to provide educational programming to high-need students throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Throughout 14 education and technology centers, LNESC has served over 500,000 students, sent 150,000 students on to college, and awarded nearly $20 million in scholarships. LNESC’s results are made possible by a network of dedicated field staff, top-notch teachers, over 90 school partners, and the support of LULAC - the nation’s largest membership based Latino organization. LNESC works to change lives and build Latino communities, one student at a time. More information about LNESC and its programs can be found at http://www.LNESC.org.

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Paloma Zuleta
LULAC
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