NORFOLK, Neb. – Latino high school sophomores, juniors and seniors in the Siouxland region came together recently in South Sioux City to be motivated about lessons in life and to learn more about higher education opportunities.
Northeast Community College hosted its Siouxland Latino Youth Summit at a new location this year – South Sioux City High School. The event featured several Latino leaders and college students who shared stories on how they broke through barriers and achieved success and also answered questions from the high school students.
“Northeast Community College wants to make sure you are thinking about what you want to do after high school,” said Dr. Leah Barrett, president. “This type of opportunity - the Latino Youth Summit - is the best way to learn about careers and college. Going to college is an opportunity that everyone can realize.”
The day included a mix of information in English and Spanish as several ELL (English language learners) students attended the event.
They heard from several speakers including a panel of Northeast students – Karina Hernandez, a nursing student from South Sioux City; Christopher Olivarez, a building construction student from Norfolk; Alexa Pulido – a pre-radiologic technology student from Norfolk; and Gabriel Vargas, a heating, ventilation & air conditioning student from Norfolk.
Members of a professional speakers panel were Axel Gonzalez, senior account manager at Perdue Farms, Adolfo Arenas, supervisor for Deforest Insolation Co., Yvette Aldana, with the Dakota County Health Dept., and Angelica Valdovinos, allied health instructor at Northeast Community College in South Sioux City.
Denys Azpeitia, a school-based/bilingual therapist who provides mental health services to children in rural Catholic Schools and Spanish-speaking clients also spoke. She encouraged the students to step out of their comfort zones.
“Don’t be afraid to be involved and ask questions. You have so many Spanish speaking people and opportunities in this community to help you go to college. I didn’t have that when I was wanting to go to college,” she said. “I had to figure it out on my own, but I knew college was an option for me. I never gave up and you shouldn’t either.”
Azpeitia said the support from her family helped her understand that she was doing, “something great.”
Eighty-five students from East, North, and West high schools in Sioux City and South Sioux City High School attended the summit. Nine students were awarded $1,000 tuition waivers to Northeast. The students were selected through a random drawing of attendees.
The day concluded with a performance by the dance group, Ballet Folklorico Estrellas de Jalisco.
Northeast Community College students address area high school students during the College’s Latino Youth Summit recently at South Sioux City High School. Student panel members are (from left) Alexa Pulido, Norfolk, Karina Hernandez, South Sioux City, Gabriel Vargas, Norfolk, and Christopher Olivarez, Norfolk. The Northeast students were among those who shared stories on how they broke through barriers and achieved success and answered questions from the high school students. Eighty-five students from East, North, and West high schools in Sioux City and South Sioux City High School attended the summit.