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500 Latina/o Youth to Attend MeChA Conference

October 27, 2003 — On Tuesday, Nov. 4th, over 500 Latina/o youth will be on the University of Utah campus to participate in a youth leadership conference titled “The Power of Tomorrow is in Your Hands Today: Excuses or Education?”

The 9th Annual Chicana/o Latina/o Youth Leadership Conference, sponsored by the University of Utah Chapter of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlan (MEChA) and the Associated Students of the University of Utah (ASUU), will feature keynote speaker Richard Santana. His speech, “Homeboy Goes to Harvard,” will detail the motivational speaker’s life as a former gang member, his turnaround and his attendance at and eventual graduation from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The one-day event, free to participants, will be held in the U’s Olpin Union Ballroom and will begin at 8 a.m. Students are required to pre-register through their high schools. (Conference attendees will receive excused absences from school.)

While the focus of the conference is Latina/o students, others, grades 9 through 12, are welcome to attend. Eleven workshops offered will explore such topics as financial aid, stopping hate, preparing for higher education, career options and opportunities and cultural preservation or assimilation. Door prizes will be given out.

“The goal of this conference is to promote leadership development, cultural awareness and self pride in Chicana/o and Latina/o students through various workshops, panel discussion and speakers,” notes Matthew Montoya, co-chair the U of U chapter of MEChA “This conference will also demonstrate to Chicana/o and Latina/o students that higher education is an important and attainable goal. We will provide the students with useful information on the admissions process, financial aid and scholarships and college life in general, as well as pertinent contemporary issues impacting Latina/o communities.”

A celebration of the Latin American equivalent of Halloween-Dia de los Muertos-will be held on Friday, Oct. 31st, to raise funds to support the upcoming youth conference. The alcohol-free dance will be held from 8 p.m. until midnight in the Olpin Union Ballroom. Costumes are encouraged. Cost of admission is $8 or $5 with a can of food. All food collected will be given to needy families.

For more information on the event, contact Matthew Montoya at 801-347-8283 or at