People who want to succeed have to use their talents without fear, Jose Enriquez, founder of Latinos in Action told students at Weber State University’s 20th annual Multicultural Youth Conference.
“There’s too much talent to let it go to waste,” Enriquez said. “If you are not looking for your talent, you are wasting it.”
Enriquez told the crowd he sees only potential talent when he looks at their young faces.
“I want this whole state, the state of Utah, to see how brilliant you are, but they can’t see that, and they won’t see that, unless you use your talents,” Enriquez said.
WSU’s Education Access and Outreach office and President Chuck Wight’s office collaborated with a variety of academic departments to provide learning activities for the more than 600 high school students.
“It’s a campus-wide activity,” said Amy Huntington, education access and outreach college readiness coordinator.
The all day event Jan. 8 provided students ages 14-19 the opportunity to participate in workshops that covered topics such as “How to Succeed Academically,” “College Preparation” and “Financial Literacy.”
“I really liked the talk I just barely had,” Nelly Grosso, North Davis Junior High freshman, said. “The speaker was trying to get into our brains that we have to go to college.”
State GEAR UP Partnership Program Director Betty Sawyer said their main goal is to make college a possibility to underrepresented youth minorities.
“They (underrepresented minorities) think that everybody goes to college but them,” Sawyer said. “It’s important to us to bring them all to our college campus, so they can see it. They can see people who look like them and gain some knowledge about the college system.”
This year’s theme was “You Have a Dream.”
“If you have a dream for a career, something that you would like to contribute to help other people or do something you are passionate about, whether it is art, accounting or medicine, any of those things, we want students to know that higher education is the way to get there,” Huntington said.
The conference doesn’t just focus on creating goals to address academic concerns; it is a way to inspire students to embrace their cultural and ethnic identity in a safe place and to talk about what it feels like to be a minority in Utah.
“We are not just different races … we are all one,” Austin Green, Ben Lomond High School senior, said. “We should be proud of our heritage.”
During the event, participants were able to enjoy different performances from groups such as the North Davis Junior High Multicultural Choir and the Weber State Mexican Ballet Folklorico.
“It’s fun,” Praython Mills, North Davis Junior High student, said. “I got up to sing in front of a lot of people; that was very fun.”