By: Carson Heaney

Latina members of Laramie High School attend the Wyoming Latina Youth Conference on Oct 14th and 15th.

Cristina Santana and Marlie Hernandez, both members of LHS’s multicultural club, had the opportunity to meet other Latina high schoolers from across Wyoming and participate in various community-building events this weekend.

“I was nervous, but I was also excited because I got to meet new people,” Santana said.           

The conference is held annually for all high school Latina students across Wyoming on the University of Wyoming campus to bring together a stronger Latina community and educate the participants about being proud and defending their culture in a school environment.

Over the weekend, Santana and others had the opportunity to take short college classes on various other paths of interest the high schoolers might plan to go into once they reach college age.

“The college classes were really fun, we did different activities for 45 minutes in different groups. Marlie’s group was learning how to dance and my group was dissecting mice’s brains. That was pretty cool,” Santana said.

Not only college classes, but the conference also offered valuable advice and information about creating a better school environment and defending yourself in cases of racist comments, and a place to get to know other high schoolers from around the state through fun events such as a dinner, breakfast, party, etc.

“The first day we kinda just got to know each other in our groups, and then there was a talent show. The second day we did the college classes explaining how, between our cultures, we can get more opportunities for colleges, how we shouldn’t give up, and other stuff,” Santana said.

The Latina youth conference didn’t only offer benefits to the students there, but the clubs, activities, or even classes the participants were involved in through further education and community outreach.

In Santana’s case, she believes the multicultural club at LHS, which has a large Latina membership, would benefit from hearing about what she learned during her time there.

“There was a lot of cool stuff for the multicultural club since it was more a Latina youth group type thing explaining how a lot of us of color could get different opportunities… (Multicultural club), will be really accepting, in that you can’t let anyone tell you no, and that will work really well for that club because it’ll help people,” she said.

For Santana personally, she had some apprehensions about the event, as this was her first year attending, but she found the community to be warm and inviting.

“Not just at LHS, but everywhere in Wyoming ( brought Latina high schoolers together) because everyone got along pretty well and felt included so I feel like anyone here could join it too and feel included,”

In terms of getting the word out for future years, Santana believes that more high schoolers should know about the conference, and getting the word out for future years could benefit a lot of girls just like her.