For 22 years, Idaho National Laboratory’s Hispanic Youth Symposium has brought together Latino high school students and regional academic institutions to emphasize the importance of education. During that time, millions of dollars in scholarships have been awarded to area students. Many of these alumni credit the symposium with giving them opportunities that they wouldn’t have received otherwise.
From April 27-29, more than 300 Latino teens from 90 Idaho schools will gather at an academic retreat in Sun Valley to attend scientific and educational workshops, listen to motivational speakers and vie for college scholarships. Even in the face of difficult budgets, organizers hope to keep the spirit of the event alive as they celebrate past successes and look toward the future.
“This year, we are planning a brainstorming session with some of the programs biggest supporters to come up with ways to keep the symposium sustainable into the future,” said Danielle Collins, Hispanic Youth Symposium program director. “We know how much this program means to Idaho, and it’s time for us to take a fresh look at how it is funded. That doesn’t mean it won’t be around after this year, but we may need to make some strategic changes.”
The symposium began in 1990 as a way to curb the alarming 60 percent dropout rate for Latino teens in Idaho. During the first symposium, only 100 students attended, and just one $1,000 scholarship was awarded. Since that time, colleges and universities from across the region have donated millions in scholarships and thousands of students have benefitted from the event.
This year, students will have the opportunity to participate in dozens of hands-on activities and listen to presentations centered on science, engineering, leadership and cultural topics. The symposium has also invited motivation speaker Carlos Ojeda Jr. to talk to the students about the importance of education and lifetime learning. Ojeda has been called one of America’s most dynamic speakers under the age of thirty. He is a published author and poet who overcame severe childhood obstacles to pursue his dreams — eventually graduating from college with honors.
Area companies interested in contributing to future Hispanic Youth Symposium events, can contact Danielle Collins at 208-526-1727 for more information.
© 2013 Idaho Falls® Magazine