Local teens motivated by conference | SierraSun.com

Local teens motivated by conference

Kara Fox
Sierra Sun

Kara Fox/Sierra SunCristina Medina, a North Tahoe High School senior and office aide, works the phones at her high school.

Cristina Medina had no plans to go to college until she attended the Hispanic Leadership Youth Conference Oct. 13 at the University of Nevada, Reno.

“Now I am changing my mind,” the 17-year-old North Tahoe High School senior said. “I thought it was too hard to get in, but now I think I want to go to college.”

That’s the point of the conference, which invites Latino students from Nevada and Tahoe.

“It is a good activity. It starts them thinking about the future,” said Cesar Acosta, community liaison for the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. “Another goal of the conference is to make students aware that they can become leaders in their community.”

This was the fourth year Acosta has brought students from North Tahoe and Tahoe Truckee high schools to the conference in Reno. He said he believes the conference motivates them to apply for college.

“We as Latinos want our children to have a good education and to have opportunities that we didn’t have,” Acosta said. “If you are bilingual, it opens so many doors to opportunity.”

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Sandra Corona, also a senior at North Tahoe, this year went to the conference for her second time and said speakers motivate students to go to college, but they also tackle issues affecting teens.

Participants can attend different classes throughout the day on various issues including Latinos in the military, leadership, gangs, healthy relationships, pregnancy, identity and culture and effects of drugs.

Corona said she found the class on drugs especially enlightening because she did not realize the dangers of some drugs.

“We were all surprised what the effects were of meth and how long it took to get off,” said Corona, who wants to be a social worker to help children with drug issues. “It was really fun and they show us a lot.”

Latino speakers from different backgrounds in various careers also speak on opportunities available and that Latinos can make a difference.

Medina, who had originally wanted to go to a trade school, said she was affected by the conference and now wants to follow her older sister, who attends a four-year college.

“I want to follow in her footsteps,” Medina said.