The Latin American Association recently presented Northwest Georgia's first Regional Latino Youth Leadership Conference. The entirely virtual event was hosted at Morris Innovative High School and live streamed to participants across the region.
MIHS students were invited to participate in the event where they were encouraged to "create the world we want to live in."
Dolores Carrillo-Manley, a counselor at MIHS, worked closely with the LAA to coordinate the event.
"Our students persevere through a lot, so we wanted to make a fun day to where they can still be learning," Carrillo-Manley said. "We made it fun, and they really enjoyed it. I think our kids were very motivated."
The central theme of the event inspired students to take control of their narratives, focusing on student leadership and empowerment.
"Everyone has a story," Carrillo-Manley said. "I always tell my kids, 'You take charge of where your story is going. The decisions you make now impact where your story goes.'"
Mateo Raul Magdaleno, an author and Chief Education Officer for the IDQ Group Inc., served as the conference's motivational speaker. Magdaleno inspired students with a story of hard work and compassion.
"You cannot love the fruit of who you are until you learn to love the root of who you are," Magdaleno told students. "There will be times in our lives when we won't have anyone around, so we have to begin encouraging ourselves. I'm hoping after today you will feel empowered when there's nobody around, and you can look inside of you and say, 'Everything I need is inside of me.'"
Leyner Argueta, director of business management at Georgia Northwestern Technical College, closed the conference with a message of hope, attributing his success to the Latinos who came before him and fought for equal opportunities.
"My dad always told me, 'I came to this country to give you a better opportunity," Argueta told students. "He would tell me 'Stand on my shoulders so you can achieve more than I have achieved. We are here so you can stand on our shoulders."
In the future, the LAA has plans to expand the conference to the surrounding area. Carrillo-Manley says the event is an excellent way to instill leadership skills in students.
"Although they're just one person, you can have such a big impact in your school, community and family," Carrillo-Manley said. "Being one person, you can always lead the way."
You can watch the recording of the full conference here on the AtlantaLAA YouTube channel.