After over a decade at other Indiana schools, the 20th annual Indiana Latino Leadership Conference will return to IU, where it began, Feb. 16.
The conference, put on by the Latino Enhancement Cooperative, is meant to be a way for Latinos from across the state to “come together in an academic and professional setting to stimulate or enhance their leadership abilities within their communities,” according to the website.
While the conference focuses on Latino-related topics, individuals from all other cultural and racial backgrounds are encouraged to attend the conference.
“They’ll grow in knowledge about what it is to be a Latino at IU or just a university in general,” Ruby Flores Camacho, an employee at the Latino Cultural Center.
The conference hopes to help enhance leadership skills with workshops, speakers and resources on education, identity, leadership, mentorship and culture.
“It means a lot to me,” said Brenda Diaz, junior and chair of the Latino Enhancement Cooperative. “I’m a student here, so I feel like exposure of Latinos in higher education is really important, and to have it here — it feels right to me.”
The Latino Enhancement Cooperate, or LEC, developed as a sub-committee from Latino Unidos at IU, with the intent of having a more active role in recruitment and retention of Latino students at IU. They work with two programs, Festival Latino and the Indiana Latino Leadership Conference.
The first eight years of the conference took place at IU and spent the following years traveling to other Indiana schools such as IU-Purdue University Indianapolis, Ball State University and Purdue University.
Diaz said she has traveled to attend some of those past conferences and worked as part of the workshop committee for the event her sophomore year. Those on the workshop committee are in charge of reading through workshop proposals and picking ones that fit the theme of the conference, which is “Educación es Poder" or "Education is Power" this year.
Other committees include entertainment, finance, registration and publicity. This year, however, Diaz isn’t on a committee. She is in charge of helping put the conference together and oversees what goes on through the committees.
As someone who has been to past conferences, Diaz said she is glad to have it at IU again.
“This is home,” Diaz said. “To be in charge of it and then have it here, it means the world to me.”
The workshops are student-led, and Diaz said workshops submitted by professionals are not accepted.
“I think it’s really important for high schoolers to see role models who are actually presenting these workshops,” said senior Maddy Hovious, a social work intern and publicity chair for the LEC. “They could be grad students or undergrad students, just envisioning, ‘Hey, I can be that. I can do that.’”
The deadline to register to attend the event is Jan. 25. It will be at the Indiana Memorial Union, and the workshops will be in the Student Building. It costs $15 for IU students, $20 for non-IU students, $10 for high school students and $25 for non-students.
“It’s important for people of all ages to attend it: students, high school students, even faculty and staff to attend it,” Diaz said. “It’s a way for people to learn about Latino issues that are going on in higher education and within a high school level as well. It’s important to know about issues from people of different cultural backgrounds.”