Latino students represent county in nation’s capitol

A national leadership program featuring math and science experts from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the White House welcomed 60 Latino students, including three young Hollister women, earlier this month.
San Benito High School students Vanessa Ramirez, Daniela Magana and Bernardette Hernandez spent the first week of October in Washington D.C. participating in the 17th annual Washington Youth Leadership Seminar, a week-long and potentially lifechanging event that brings Latino high school students in contact with some of the country’s most influential decision makers.
“It was a great experience,” said Magana, 17, who made her first trip to the nation’s capitol as part of the seminar.
Washington D.C. – while much more developed than San Benito County – was pretty much as Magana imagined. And it definitely did not look like home.
“It’s way bigger,” Magana said as she compared the big city with the rural county where she lives. “Everything is more controlled and it’s way more populated.”
Her favorite part of the experience was attending the seminar meetings because they talked about how they wanted more Latinas involved in science, technology, engineering and math – and how they wanted them to pursue higher education so they can succeed in life, she said.
Magana wants to be a nurse and while she didn’t talk to a nurse on this trip, math and science were key topics in the seminar.
By 2050, Latinos will comprise a third of the U.S. population and more than a quarter of the millennial generation, but despite these numbers they are under represented in many science-, technology-, engineering- and math-based professions, according to a press release from the League of United Latin American Citizens.
This seminar was hosted by LULAC’s National Educational Services Centers, Inc., the league’s nonprofit educational organization. The San Benito County LULAC Council has sent more than 20 students to the leadership conference during the past 20 years.
Students participating in the program this year met with U.S. Congressional representatives, science and math experts from the White House, and employees of the National Science Foundation and NASA. They also met with Fortune 500 corporate executives and the leaders of nonprofits.
The week-long seminar is designed to broaden the career horizons of participants. It ended Oct. 3 in the Newseum in Washington, D.C., where students were recognized for completing the program.

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