On Thursday, March 17, Utah Valley University will host the 8th Annual Latino Youth Leadership in Action Conference (LYLAC) in the UCCU Events Center and the Sorensen Student Center. The theme this year is “It’s Up to Me…Yo Soy la Herencia.”
The Latinos in Action Program trains Latina/o middle school, junior high and high school students as paraprofessionals to tutor, mentor, and be role models at their local elementary schools. Roughly 1,400 students from 51 schools across the state will be on campus for the day-long conference. The goal is to connect Latina/o students with educators, universities, business owners and other community leaders. This conference creates a space for those students to voice their successes, concerns, and possible solutions for improving their experience in the Utah educational system.
“It is a privilege for UVU to host this conference and to facilitate the exchange of ideas between students and administrators,” said Yudi Lewis, counselor for UVU’s Latino Initiative.
“How exciting it is to have the best of the best of Latino high school students come together for an event that will continue to empower them to lead by example,” said Jorge L. Agüero Jr., Marketing and Development for Utah Community Credit Union.
During the morning session, Victor Villaseñor, best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize nominee, will address the students in his keynote speech. Villaseñor’s work includes “Rain of Gold,” which is required reading in many school systems, including colleges and universities, throughout the nation. Published in seven languages, “Rain of Gold” tells the story of his family, taking the reader from war-torn Mexico during the Revolution to the present day. An HBO mini-series on Villaseñor’s works has been announced for the near future.
“He has a passion and excitement to share his story – our kids will really be able to relate to it,” said Jose Enriquez, founder and director of Latinos in Action, a local program that inspires bilingual Latino students to utilize their language skills in leadership opportunities and service to their own communities, and supports them in their college and career goals.
Enriquez said it was important to have a keynote speaker who would not only motivate the students, but relate to them.
“He really sticks to ‘Who am I, and what is my role in this community?’ The books he’s written and his work will really resonate with these kids,” Enriquez said.
Currently, 39 of the schools attending the conference are Latinos in Action schools. The other 12 schools are planning to implement the program in the near future.
The conference is a collaboration between UVU, Utah Community Credit Union and the Latinos in Action Program, and will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. More information is available at: www.latinosinaction.org/latinos, or through Yudi Lewis, at 801-863-7357.