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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Conference highlights importance of Latino community

The 2010 census found that more than half of the U.S. population increase during the past decade is due to the migration of Hispanics. There are now 50 million Hispanics living in the U.S., and the need to strengthen ties in the Latino community is more urgent than ever.
“Latinos in Politics” is this year’s theme for the 23rd Student Conference on Latino Affairs, or SCOLA. This conference will take place Friday and Saturday at Texas A&M University.
“We wanted to cover all areas such as the role of the media, policies, as well as the empowerment of Latinos to get involved,” said Teresita Zarate, a senior animal science major and director of SCOLA.
The conference is open to all students interested in learning about affairs affecting the Latino community.
“Last year’s conference was really informative. It opened my eyes to the whole system of Latino affairs,” said Abelardo Bocanegra, a senior biological and agricultural engineering major.
This year Bocanegra said he is expecting to see dialogue that will increase insight into political issues facing the Latino community at A&M.
“It’s diverse here. We do have all kinds of people who appreciate the Hispanic culture. There have been some instances where we have been segregated, but I hope to see a more positive environment,” he said.
SCOLA has lined up a group of influential scholars to speak at this year’s conference. Speakers include Commandant of the Corps of Cadets, Brigadier General Joe E. Ramirez, Jr, Alberto Moreiras, head of Hispanic Studies, and Sylvia Rivera Manzona, professor in the Department of Political Science.
Ramirez will speak on the significance of leadership in politics and several others will speak on the importance of dialogue in promoting better relationships with those outside the Hispanic community.
“For a long time the Latino community was the silent minority, but this is rapidly changing,” Zarate said. “I personally would love to see more Latinos involved in politics, economics and education. The most significant issue is having the Latino voice heard. Latinos are the largest growing minority, and I feel that throughout all that, their voices are getting lost in all the hustle and bustle of politics.”
Additionally, SCOLA aims to instill in students a sense of what they will be expected to face after graduation. A career fair will be on the first day of the conference and various networking opportunities will be available for students throughout the conference.
“As the census is showing, we are growing,” said Melanie Weiser, the SCOLA program adviser. “We contribute a lot of diversity to the communities in which we live. We have seen so many changes in the past couple of years. We are going to continue to grow. Conferences like this help us to foster dialogue among the Latino community and enable students to become stronger leaders.”
Zarate commented on the importance of appreciation, not only for the Hispanic cultures but for others as well.
“A healthy appreciation is necessary for all cultures, not only the Hispanic culture,” Zarate said. “Appreciation leads to the bridging of gaps long left unattended, which will help build a brighter future and more successful nation.”

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