Young Latinos to visit OU
About 400 high school students from Oklahoma City, Norman, Edmond and Tulsa will descend upon OU for a Hispanic college education conference this week.
The sixth annual Tomás Rivera Education Empowerment Conference will be hosted Friday by multicultural fraternity Omega Delta Phi on campus.
The conference will host OKC attorney Michael Jimenez to educate the high school students on immigration issues.
Eli Velazquez, an OU and alumnus of the primarily-Hispanic fraternity, started the conference. The goal of the event is to bring young adults from the Hispanic community to OU and broaden their academic expectations, Velazquez said.
Many Hispanic high school graduates are not inclined to pursue higher education, he said. They believe an investment in higher education is not justified if they are offered a job after graduation.
Organizer William Isaacs said there are multiple reasons why Hispanic students choose not to go to college.
“For example, their parents are illegal immigrants. For them to apply financial aid, they may get scared to enter their social security number. They don’t want their family to get deported,” said Isaacs, architecture sophomore.
The conference also will give out scholarships to eligible applicants of Hispanic origin. About 8,500 scholarships, all at different price levels, will be given out, Isaacs said. Some scholarships are worth $1,000 or more.
BP and Total Environment have donated $5,000, respectively, while Coca-Cola Co. has donated two $500 scholarships, Isaacs said.
“Our selection criteria are a mixture of everything. Academics come into play but not as important,” Isaacs said. “Some of the scholarships depend on their future goals. They can also be based on the community service they’ve done. We honor the fraternity value: honesty, unity and leadership.”
There will be workshops throughout the conference, including a student panel of OU students. Miss Hispanic OU 2011 Brianna Narvaez, advertising senior, will be in attendance alongside former UOSA president Franz Zenteno.
The conference currently is organized by six members of the fraternity, but Isaacs said he believes they can still expand and operate beyond current capacity in the future.
“Schools in lower Kansas and northern Texas are on our radar. Eventually, we will grow. The more scholarships we give out, the more lives we are going to be able to change and help the Hispanic community,” Isaacs said.