The Latinx Youth Conference (LYC) was organized by the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan together with other organizations in the community to provide exposure to tools for scholars to reach their greatest potential. For the last two decades, this event has empowered scholars from districts all over West Michigan. 

With over 100 volunteers and dozens of workshops to choose from, this event was definitely one to remember. Some of the workshops included Health & Wellness, Post Secondary Education, Banking for Today, and Latinindad. 

This year, Lea Tobar and Dr. Juan Olivarez, founders of the Latinx Youth Conference, were recognized with awards. Lea Tobar is a retired Grand Rapids Public Schools employee with over 40 years of service to our district. Lea still plays an active role on the planning committee and continues to connect with GRPS families to provide them assistance with enrollment, resources, and much more. 

Dr. Juan Olivarez served as the eighth president of Grand Rapids Community College from 1999 to 2008. He was the first Hispanic president of any college or university in Michigan. As an active leader in the Hispanic/Latinx community, Dr. Olivarez continues to inspire our youth to believe that anything is possible with hard work, determination, and grit. 

The LYC awarded four students $1000 scholarships to pursue their education, including two GRPS scholars. The scholars were required to submit an essay based on the following four categories: Capture and Image, Art & Culture, Be a Storyteller, and List of Accomplishments.

Keyla Arcos-Lopez, an eighth grader at Grand Rapids Museum High School, received the Be a Storyteller scholarship. Areia Lopez, an eighth-grade student at Southwest Middle High School Academia Bilingue received the Art & Culture scholarship. 

This year's keynote speaker was Lupita Infante. Infante is a Mexican-American, Grammy-nominated musical artist. She was born in Los Angeles and is the granddaughter of the renowned artist, Pedro Infante. Infante earned her bachelor's degree in Ethnomusicology (world music) from the University of California Los Angeles. She worked as an Uber and Lyft driver in order to pay for her education. Through her music, Infante highlights her Mexican heritage and continues her family's musical legacy. 

“I would say this is a great event for our Latino students. They don’t see or have many opportunities to connect with Latino leaders and so our goal is to provide that space to these eighth graders to see themselves,” Evelyn Esparza, executive director of the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, told WOOD TV8.

GRPS is a proud sponsor of the annual LYC and is committed to continuing to support our scholars to be leaders and change agents in the community and beyond. 

Click here for the WOOD TV8 Story

Courtesy of WOOD TV8