Arming Latino families in Southern California with the knowledge and resources to make college a reality, the University of La Verne presents its first-ever "Latino Education Access and Development Conference" (LEAD) Thursday, Sept. 27 at the Sarah and Michael Abraham Campus Center, 1950 Third Street, La Verne, Calif. The event is open to college students, high school and middle school students, parents and educators.
"As the nation's largest minority population, Latinos continue to face challenges not just of enrollment but persistence to graduation that requires academic and community support. This is why we are taking a leadership role and presenting the LEAD Conference," said University of La Verne President Devorah Lieberman.
The Pew Hispanic Center reported last month that Hispanics became the largest minority group on college campuses across the country with two million Latino students enrolling in two-year and four-year college institutions in 2011. At the University of La Verne, nearly 40 percent – and mostly first generation -- of the undergraduate student body is Latino.
Despite the college-enrollment peak for Latinos, their graduation rate remains low, the Pew report states. In 2010 of all four-year undergraduate degrees earned, only 9 percent of enrolled Latinos completed a bachelor's, compared to 10 percent of blacks and 71 percent of whites.
"La Verne wanted to position itself as a friend to the organizations who are offering scholarships and support to our student communities – and provide them with a place to reach their target audiences, which is why we are serving as host to the LEAD Conference," Lieberman said.
Organizations participating include TELACU, Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Making Education the Answer and Esperanza Scholarship Foundation as well as a variety of non-profits and corporate donors to reach local middle and high school students as well as community college students and our own campus community.
"There remain major hurdles for Latinos to persevere and graduate with a degree," said La Verne Director of Foundation and Corporate Relations Denise Gutierrez. "At La Verne many Latino students are the first in their family to attend college. Going to school two to four years to receive a degree is difficult enough, but imagine if the family needs you back home to help earn money."
Families attending the LEAD Conference will learn about the resources available to help them through these college years. Leading experts will share from their own life's powerful experiences on topics, such as finding a mentor, increasing scholarship awareness, and making college happen.
Guest speakers include Consul General of Mexico David Figueroa Ortega; Assembly Member Roger Hernandez (57th District); University of La Verne President Devorah Lieberman; La Verne Board of Trustees Cecilia Martinez Morris; Radio Host & Producer, Power 106, Wendy Carrillo, and mentoring expert Dr. Gabe Veas.
"Cultural stigmas sometimes contribute to low self-esteem and insecurities, allowing Latino students to trade-in the possibility of a future of higher academic achievement and a career," said Assembly Member Roger Hernandez. "I applaud the University of La Verne and the families who are attending the LEAD Conference for taking the first steps to break down those barriers and show our youth that college is possible."
For more information about the University of La Verne, visit www.laverne.edu