College hosts Annual Latino Youth Summit

SPSCC hosted the 11th Annual Latino Youth Summit, presented by the Hispanic Roundtable of South Sound, on Nov. 5. High school students and advisers came to the campus to learn about resources for the Latino community.

“I think it’s a great event, and it’s inspiring to see all the differing parts of the Latino community coming together,” said volunteer Christopher Paredes.

The Hispanic Roundtable of South Sound began in December 2002 and is a local non-profit organization. It has developed into a “coalition of professionals” working to improve services within the Spanish-speaking community, said Olivia Salazar de Breaux, executive assistant to the president of the Hispanic Roundtable.

According to the Hispanic Roundtable website, the first summit was in 2003 and was attended by about sixty students. This year, the summit was attended by 500 students from high schools in five counties. The purpose of the summit is to encourage students to make decisions for a better future, said Alfredo Gomez-Beloz, a member of the Summit Planning Committee. He said he believes media can often lead students of color to question themselves, but hopes the Summit can help those students feel in charge of their futures.

Each Summit is given a theme, this year’s theme was “The Power of the Word.” “We are trying to get students to really work on finding their voices, empowering them to use words to not only communicate, but to make things happen,” said Salazar de Breaux.

The Power of the Word also tied into this year’s Artist and Lecture Series keynote speaker and acclaimed author, Luis Alberto Urrea. “The idea is that words can build or destroy, but the theme really fit his message of sharing the sacred stories of our families and the power of being bilingual and bicultural,” said Emilio Vela Jr., vice president of the Hispanic Roundtable.

The summit held workshops so students could learn about higher education, career paths and healthy lifestyles. “What I’m really hoping the students will do is take in the information we’ve provided to stand out and take action in their communities or their schools,” said Luis Magana Reyna, the president of Club Latinoamerica de SPSCC and presenter at the Student Leadership workshop.