FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --The Latino population is growing across the country and here in California. However, the American Enterprise Institution finds many colleges are graduating less than half of its Hispanic students. But leaders here in the Valley are finding ways to change that.
Young Latino students came from across the Valley to Fresno State, Tuesday, for the annual Si Se Puede Conference. It's an event geared just for them. "We realized there are not a lot of Latino males that are being as successful as Latinas-- their counterparts," said Paul Garcia, conference co-chair.
The event was started 21 years ago, but the message remains the same-- to inspire them and connect them to their community. "I think it's a good thing and there's not a lot of Latinos that get a lot of education where they live," said Damian Reyes, student.
Students learned life lessons from successful Latino leaders in the community who work in jobs from medicine to law enforcement. One session focused on careers in media while another highlighted construction and architecture. "Encourage them to stay in school. Education is very important, that's how I got where I'm at and it takes hard work. I want to be a role model for them to say 'yes it can be done,'" said George Flores, Fresno VA Police Chief.
This year, one of the speakers was a former participant who knows firsthand the impact this conference can have. "In high school, you never see yourself looking forward and being in front of the classroom and talking to the young men that look just like you did when you were here. It's exciting and it's a new opportunity that also shows you can always give back regardless of where you're at in life," said Cesar Rodriguez, conference speaker.
Bridging the gap for our Valley's future.