CSU to Host Hispanic-Latino Youth College Conference

COLUMBUS, Ga. - Columbus State University has put together an event that, in its third year, is helping Hispanic and Latino prospective students prepare for college.

CSU’s third annual Hispanic-Latino Youth College Conference is set for Saturday, Feb. 23 from 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. in both the Center for Commerce and Technology and the Davidson Student Center. Participation is free and open to high school freshmen through seniors and their parents, plus prospective older students.

Since its March 2006 inception, the conference has flourished with wide-ranging support. “This year, we received support from the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, based in California,” said Paola Machado, CSU’s Hispanic-Latino recruiter and adviser. “We have expanded our invitations to schools in the service region, as well as Troup County, and have not only received response from high school students and parents, but also from local businesses and organizations with Hispanic employees.”

The transition to college life can be a challenging one filled with questions about everything from choosing courses to financial aid. This conference seeks to answer some of those questions, with workshops on preparing for college life, preparing for entrance exams, choosing the right college, writing essays for college and scholarship applications, and researching financial aid options. Lunch will be provided, and students will have an opportunity to tour CSU and participate in a college fair involving several other colleges and universities in Georgia.

“Coming together like this is a testimony to the amazing generosity of the Goizueta Foundation and how it can help us achieve our goal,” said Machado.

Coca-Cola executive Roberto Goizueta established the foundation in 1992 to assist organizations that empower individuals and families through educational opportunities that enhance their quality of life.

Machado said positive feedback and word-of-mouth from previous attendees are indicators of the program’s success. “Both students and parents have benefited from the workshops and have discovered new resources they were not previously aware of,” she said. “Our strong community ties play an essential role in the support of our events. It has opened the door for CSU to become a comfortable and attainable place for Latinos in the region.”

Some key partnerships include the Celia & Marcos Scholarship Fund, Muscogee County School District English as a Second Language Program, Junior Achievement Hispanic Outreach Program, Millie’s International Market, Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce Hispanic Business Outreach Committee, VIVA 1460 AM (Clear Channel’s Spanish language station) and Eco Latino Newspaper.

Machado anticipates a growth in participation this year and urges those interested to register early. “In the past, we’ve had 100-150 attendants,” she said. “This year we expect that number to double.”

The conference was established from a $500,000 grant to CSU in 2005 from the Atlanta-based Goizueta Foundation for a Hispanic-Latino student outreach initiative. Most of the grant provides need-based scholarships for future Hispanic-Latino students. CSU has awarded 16 scholarships in the past three years.

Participants must register by Feb. 20 by calling 1-888-814-8410 toll-free or e-mailing Maria Naranjo at mnaranjo@hsf.net or Paola Machado at machado_paola@ColumbusState.edu.