Conference helps celebrate Hispanic heritage month

Saturday marked the last day of the celebration of Hispanic Heritage month, and Sam Houston State University participated in the celebration with a conference for the Hispanic community of Huntsville.

Many Hispanic families filled the Lowman Student Center Saturday, as SHSU, LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) and members of the Huntsville community hosted the fifth annual outreach program called Fiesta Encuentro 2005.

The Fiesta Encuentro conference coincides with the SHSU “No Child Left Behind” Hispanic outreach program. Fiesta Encuentro was helped established by SHSU Associate Professor of History Carolina Castillo Crimm Ph.D., and Huntsville High School nurse Dalia Harrelson in 1997.

“I felt like I would be lucky to reach out to a few Hispanic students and parents,” said Crimm, describing her thoughts about the program when she first helped establish the conference.

The purpose of the conference is to provide information to help Hispanics in the Huntsville community become aware of the many opportunities available to them, as well as having Hispanics see SHSU as a path to a better future. Over 450 were in attendance, which included Huntsville high school students and their families. Participants were offered workshop sessions, with 13 speakers leading the different workshops.

Some of the workshops were geared for the parents and aimed at enhancing their job skills, enlightening them on their legal rights and giving suggestions on how to better resolve family issues.

The workshop sessions targeted for teens helped Hispanic high school students understand that college is a possibility for their future. It also provided financial advice and resume and job interviewing skills.

SHSU volunteers were also at the event, and helped the program run smoothly.

“The goal for our volunteers is to serve as role models for the high school students by giving them a chance to interact with Hispanic college students and give them hope,” said Crimm. “That alone is the success of the program.”

“I think Encuentro is a good thing,” said volunteer Monica Munoz.

Munoz added that the event “gave those who otherwise might not know about all the opportunities that are out there for them a chance to better themselves.”

“This year’s Encuentro was a success,” said Crimm. “We want people to leave the conference knowing that the University is here for them.”

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