IU Southeast to host 21st annual Indiana Latino Leadership Conference

For the first time in its twenty-year lifespan, IU Southeast will host the Indiana Latino Leadership Conference in 2020.

Twelve+students+as+well+as+IUS+professors+serve+as+ambassadors+for+IU+Southeast+in+their+first+attendance+at+the+Indiana+Latino+Leadership+Conference.+Photo+by+Meleena+Richardson.
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IU Southeast to host 21st annual Indiana Latino Leadership Conference

Twelve students as well as IUS professors serve as ambassadors for IU Southeast in their first attendance at the Indiana Latino Leadership Conference. Photo by Meleena Richardson.

Twelve students as well as IUS professors serve as ambassadors for IU Southeast in their first attendance at the Indiana Latino Leadership Conference. Photo by Meleena Richardson.

Twelve students as well as IUS professors serve as ambassadors for IU Southeast in their first attendance at the Indiana Latino Leadership Conference. Photo by Meleena Richardson.

Twelve students as well as IUS professors serve as ambassadors for IU Southeast in their first attendance at the Indiana Latino Leadership Conference. Photo by Meleena Richardson.

Meleena Richardson, Social Media Director

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“Educación es Poder.”

This was the theme of the 20th annual Indiana Latino Leadership Conference. In English, it translates to, “Education is Power.” This phrase holds significant meaning to the Latinx people who attended the 2019 conference in order to network with their peers and fellow college students.

Indiana University Bloomington has hosted the Indiana Latino Leadership Conference since it’s start in 1999. However, it was revealed that the 21st annual conference will be held at IU Southeast.

The 2019 conference was held at IU Bloomington Saturday Feb. 16. Twelve students from IU Southeast attended along with chaperones Veronica Medina, associate professor of sociology, and Jennifer Ortiz, assistant professor of criminology/criminal justice.

While the conference has been around for 20 years, it was not this year that IU Southeast formerly attended with a group of students.

From left to right: Ashley Lopez, Veronica Medina, and Jennifer Ortiz. Photo by Meleena Richardson.

“One of the biggest motivations for us [Medina and Ortiz] bringing students to the conference was we wanted them to network with other students,” Ortiz said. “But also to feel a sense of inclusion. All the studies tell us that when students feel like they belong, they excel in school and they do better.”

Big Changes

The big reveals of the conference came from an announcement from speaker Lillian Casillas. It was not only revealed that IU Southeast be holding the 21st annual Latino Leadership Conference, but that the name of the conference would be changed from Indiana Latino Leadership Conference, to Indiana Latinx Leadership Conference.

Photo by Meleena Richardson.

“Educación es Poder”, the theme of the 2019 Indiana Latino Leadership Conference. Photo by Meleena Richardson.

The reason for this being that, “Latino” is the male suffix in spanish and translates to “Latin male”, leaving out women and other communities. In order to change to make the conference more inclusive, IU Southeast and IU Bloomington have agreed to change the name to “Latinx” so both male, female, non-binary students and members of the LGTBQ+ community can feel included as well.

Interactive Workshops

Students were able to attend workshops provided by volunteers and professors at the conference about topics such as “What is Latinx anyway?”, “Latinos practicing law” and even a dance class for people to practice their Salsa, Bachata and Cumbia dance moves.

The speakers were heartfelt and I felt that they were speaking directly to me. It really gave me a sense of pride in who I am and made me embrace the fact that I am mixed-raced and I can be full and accept myself for who I am and not be fragmented.”

— Lyric Jackson, sociology & political science sophomore

Lyric Jackson, sociology and political science sophomore, was one of 12 students who attended the conference. She said she attended to see Latinx people in leadership roles and get as much educational value out of the experience as she could.

“The workshops I attended were very effective and informational,” Jackson said. “The speakers were heartfelt and I felt that they were speaking directly to me. It really gave me a sense of pride in who I am and made me embrace the fact that I am mixed-raced and I can be full and accept myself for who I am and not be fragmented.”

For entertainment, the Mariachi band at IU Bloomington played Latin classics and traditional music. The conference also welcomed a local Mexican rapper who performed for the students at the conference during their lunch-break. Students and attendants were treated to tacos, salads and a variety of desserts to choose from all while listening to a string of performers and speakers.

Next year, be prepared to mark your calendars for the 2020 Indiana Latinx Leadership Conference here at IU Southeast, it will be the first of its kind at the university.