This past week ORU’s Hispanic Center hosted a conference for Latino high school students in the Tulsa metropolitan area.
The two-day conference, one day for girls and another for guys, was designed to give students hope that they can achieve a higher education.
“The goal of these conferences is to get students who are finishing high school to go to college…any college, not just ORU,” said Nancy Ramirez-Nava.
The conference started with meager beginnings. It was initially put on to help curb the statistics of young teen pregnancy and gang violence in the Latino community.
It has since grown to be a growing inspiration.
“I’ve always been one that has asked why things are, and why can’t they be better…Why? We are continuing to add to the statistics…how can I make a difference in [this]…it really weighed heavily in my mind,” said Deborah Easter, founder of the conference.
Easter decided she needed to do everything in her power to fight the ever-growing statistics.
She called up her girlfriends, who are now on the board, and local vendors in the Tulsa area such as BOK who could sponsor the event, and thus the conference was born.
At the conference, local students travel to stations that provide them the opportunity to hear from local Latino leaders in the community, find out and experience what it is like to be on a college campus, discover ways to finance a higher education and hear of future job opportunities.
East Central High School teacher Julian Ramirez was one of the speakers this year.
He began each session by telling the students about himself and his schooling background in both Mexico and the U.S. He then encouraged each student to be diligent and know that they were worthy of a higher education.
“Education is right here for you…you can do whatever you want, but it is up to you to change your circumstances…you have to earn it,” said Ramirez. “Work hard, evaluate who you hang out with and thank your parents for all they do.”
The conference’s goal is clear: to make a difference in the Latino community, specifically in the lives of the up and coming generations.
Easter hopes to continue to expand her conference numbers in the next few years and knows that as long as the conference makes a difference in at least one young persons life her efforts are well worth it!