Saturday, October 16, 2021

Conference highlights Latina achievements

March 20, 2011
Lansing resident Lena Garcia, 16, left, puts eyeshadow on Lansing resident Emily Sanchez-Weiss, 12, while Lansing resident Thalia Esparza, 14, watches before the girls go on stage to dance for the crowd that gathered at the annual Dia de la Mujer conference Saturday at Kellogg Center. The event is held to celebrate Chicana and Latina women and their accomplishments. Kat Petersen/The State News
Lansing resident Lena Garcia, 16, left, puts eyeshadow on Lansing resident Emily Sanchez-Weiss, 12, while Lansing resident Thalia Esparza, 14, watches before the girls go on stage to dance for the crowd that gathered at the annual Dia de la Mujer conference Saturday at Kellogg Center. The event is held to celebrate Chicana and Latina women and their accomplishments. Kat Petersen/The State News —
Photo by Kat Petersen | and Kat Petersen The State News

Many gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of Latina women across the Midwest during the 18th annual Día de la Mujer Conference on Saturday at Kellogg Center.

The conference, whose name translates to “day of the woman,” began in 1994 as a small gathering of Latina students to discuss each other’s achievements over dinner. The conference has expanded to include high school students, MSU faculty and staff and other female MSU students, said Crystal Stoll Alvarez, a first-year graduate student.

“This is my fourth year that I’ve been here, and it’s beautiful seeing not only people I know but also high school students and women from around the Midwest,” she said. “For me, it’s very empowering to see (this) many women — Latina women — succeed and just do well.”

This year’s theme was focused on building the future with one’s voice and action, making the conference a forum to educate and motivate not only Latina women but their communities as well, said Juan Flores, a coordinator in the Office of Cultural and Academic Transitions, or OCAT, and lead conference coordinator.

“Our goal is to ultimately reach every (Latina) community across the state of Michigan and empower, educate, inspire and motivate them to take advantage of all their educational opportunities,” he said.

More than 600 participants began the afternoon with workshops and speakers, and for the first time, the conference featured a Latina Summit, a panel discussion composed of Latina women from all ranges of life. The summit addressed pressing issues of the Latina community while assessing possible solutions, Flores said.

The topics discussed will be formatted into a report and presented to MSU by OCAT officials to launch a campuswide solution.

The conference featured speakers such as the following: Judge Patricia Perez Fresard, who in 1998 was the first Latina elected into the Wayne County Circuit Court; Marcelina Treviño Savala, the reconsideration attorney for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights; and Aída Nydia Barrera, a television producer and educator in bilingual children’s television.

Longtime conference participant and MSU alumnus, Raquel Moreno, said she values the networking and sense of empowerment the conference provides Latina women.

“It’s just a really good conference that brings all Latinas from the surrounding area together. And, just being around each other is empowering,” she said. “Listening to what all these other great women before us have done is inspirational — it makes you want to go forth and do great things with the path of your life and what you’re doing right now.”

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