Leaders of the annual Latino Student Leadership Conference were met with a room full of fresh faces on Saturday, as approximately 35 students attended the annual LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) event over the weekend at San Benito High School to learn more about the organization.
Elizabeth Zepeda, the LULAC District 12 director for young adults, spoke to the group about “dreaming big” and identifying the things they would like to have in their adult life. She asked the group,”Do you want a big house? Do you want to travel?” She explained that these goals will help you figure out what they will need to make in terms of income and help them plan how to get there.
Students were given small prizes for listening to the speakers and taking an active part in the conversation. San Benito High School senior, Jasmin Zepeda was the winner of the laptop given away in a raffle. Zepeda, who works for a local medical office after school, said she appreciates winning the laptop as it was something she couldn’t afford otherwise.
Dr. Parveen Sharma discussed the major health issues California’s Latino population faces and reviewed medical topics students should know about. Many students guessed obesity and diabetes as the most common diseases. But to the surprise of the high school students, asthma was one of the top medical concerns for the state’s Latino population.
Francisco Diaz, from the San Benito County Senior Deputy Clerk’s office, encouraged students to get involved in the upcoming election. He explained that students can register to vote and help at polling places as early as 16 years old. “Remember,” he said, “it took a lot of people to give people of color and women the right to vote.” He also mentioned a couple of cases in San Benito County in which elections were decided on a single vote. “So don’t think your vote doesn’t count,” Diaz said.
Sheriff’s deputy Fernando Tellez also made himself available to the group for questions. One student asked, “With all the negative publicity on police and the Ferguson thing, how do you think the county’s relationship is with law enforcement?”
Tellez said, ”San Benito County is a good environment to work. Sometimes you have people who show some attitude.” He explained that it often comes down to having respect. “I think we have a good community here. It’s not too much of a problem,” he said.
Diaz, originally from Prunedale, is one of the Spanish speakers in his department and even knows a little high school French. “The Hispanic population is afraid of the police because that’s how it is in their home countries,” he said. He says appreciates having language skills and that it helps him do his job better. “It’s like a bridge to have a Spanish speaker working out in the field,” he said.
Several students received a backpack for becoming new members of the LULAC youth program. For information on upcoming meetings and locations contact: Cesar Flores at ($408) 804-3235 or email him at email@example.com .
Upcoming LULAC youth meetings:
- Oct. 28 5:30 p.m. Youth meeting at San Benito High School Room 324
- Nov. 7 10 a.m. LULAC Council meeting at the YMCA
- Nov. 11 8 a.m. Veterans’ Day Breakfast at San Benito High School