Campus sees 12th annual Soy un Líder conference

Paula Hernandez, Interim Assistant Director of the Intercultural Engagement Center and Latinx Community Coordinator, welcomes everyone to the 12th annual Soy un Lider conference on Nov. 10.//Photo by: Andrew Walker/The Guilfordian

“I hope Soy un Lider can help high school students have enough resources to apply to a different college, or reach higher education in general,” said sophomore Daisy Arguello. “I hope Soy un Lider can bring a change in people’s lives, and their dreams.”

The annual Soy Un Lider conference was held on Saturday, Nov. 10, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the Alumni Gym.

“I know that a program like this would have been beneficial to me, as a first generation, Latinx female,” said Interim Assistant Director & LatinX Community Coordinator Paula Hernandez.

The day-long conference aimed to inform high school students who are refugee, international, Latinx and first generation students about different opportunities available for them to attend college upon high school graduation.

“Ultimately, I hope that (Soy Un Lider) helps the numbers of people of color who are enrolled in college increase,” Hernandez said. “I hope it helps increase the number of (persons of color) graduates as well. I never want to hear a minority student say they didn’t go to college because they didn’t know how to get there. That’s why we are here, to educate them and show them the way.”

The conference consisted of multiple workshops covering a variety of topics, from social justice to financial aid.

“I was a workshop presenter for the Soy Un Lider Conference,” said Soy Un Lider member Fernando Jimenez. “My role was to teach high school attendees about Arts and Social Justice and how Define American uses storytelling to shift the conversation around immigration.”

In addition to discussing social justice, Soy Un Lider also gave students advice about financial aid and applying to colleges.

“I was in a program similar to soy un Lider called the McKnights program, which helped students reach higher education,” Arguello said. “And I had a mentor along the way, who guided me during the college application process.”

Soy Un Lider is currently available to high school students across three counties in North Carolina, and some organizers expressed a desire to see it grow to reach more students in the future.

“I want a few things from (Soy Un Lider) for the community,” Hernandez said. “I want it to grow and reach beyond the regular counties it has. So far we have only really reached out to Alamance, Guilford and Forsyth. I would like it to be known in the whole state.”

For many volunteers and organizers, Soy Un Lider was an opportunity to reach out to students facing struggles similar to those that they faced in the past.

“I decided to get involved with Soy un Lider because I knew there were many other kids out there facing the same struggles as me,” Arguello said. “I wanted to help students know that there is help and they are not alone during this process.”

The Soy Un Lider conference worked to educate and empower students who are facing significant barriers in their path to attending a college or university.

“(Soy Un Lider) is important because not only is the conference about access to higher education, but also about empowerment,” Fernandez said.