On Friday, November 17th, 2023, The Hispanic Roundtable of the South Sound held their 21st annual Latinx Youth Summit at Centralia College (Centralia, WA). This year’s theme was titled “La Cultura en mi es Una Brasa Ardiente,” (The Culture in me is a Blazing Ember). Founded in 2002, The Hispanic Roundtable is a non-profit organization headquartered in Olympia, Washington (South of Seattle) and made up of an executive board with Diana Torres currently serving as the President. The organization’s overall mission is to serve the Latino and Spanish-speaking communities in Thurston and Mason counties by providing various educational resources, programs, and promoting work and volunteer opportunities. In the past, the Hispanic Roundtable has hosted Community Summits bringing together agencies who provide support towards the Latinx community. During these community summits, the organization has held workshops on topics of cultural humility and cultural responsibility and has featured prominent speakers from around the state from places such as The University of Washington, and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.
This year, Centralia College graciously hosted the Latinx Youth Summit, where about 400-500 Hispanic students plus educators from various school districts (Thurston, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Grays Harbor) in South Washington participated in the event. I had the amazing opportunity to be featured as the keynote speaker at this youth summit, where I spoke on personal and professional challenges, the importance of pursuing education, and overcoming adversities. My goal was to provide an authentic insight into challenges that I have personally experienced firsthand, and to inspire and motivate students to persevere regardless of difficulties they may be experiencing. Speeches were also presented by President Diana Torres, and by Centralia Colleges Vice President of Student Services, Dr. Robert Cox.
Throughout the day, students also participated in workshops which allowed them to receive information on applying to college and financial aid. Other topics covered included career counseling basics, tips for managing stress & anxiety, introduction to criminal justice (careers in law enforcement), careers in nursing, early childhood education, navigating conflict, learning salsa basics, and touring the college’s facilities. Representatives from various organizations and colleges were also present including The University of Washington, Washington State University, The Evergreen State College, South Puget Sound College, the Commission on Hispanic Affairs, and more. Lunch was also provided for students and resource fairs throughout the day. The event was a great opportunity for students, colleagues, and educators to come together to inspire the Latino community and emphasize the importance of education. Students left with vital information on potential educational and career paths, and were left inspired by the day’s speeches, workshops and networking. Thank you to the Hispanic Roundtable’s board members, Centralia College, and President Diana Torres for inviting me out to speak, and for highlighting and recognizing my journalistic work.
Visit the Hispanic Roundtable’s website for more information, to donate, and to keep up with future events and opportunities.