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Club Latino members pose with CNN en Español news anchor Fernando del Rincon at the 15th Annual Harvard Latino Conference. From left: Adam Delgado '12, Ashley Hansack '15, Fernando del Rincon, Leslie Rodriguez '15 and Cynthia Ramos '14. Photos courtesy of Adam Delgado

Connecting with an alumnus has made a big difference for students involved in Whitman’s Club Latino.

Four group members were able to attend the 15th Annual Harvard Latino Law, Policy and Business Conference in April 2012 after Adam Delgado ’12 received an informal invite from Pedro Galvao ’10, an alumnus of both Club Latino and Whitman’s State of the State for Washington Latinos course. Galvao, who now studies at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, was one of the primary organizers of the conference. This year’s focus was “The Rising Latino: Latinos in the United States and Latin America on the World Stage.”

“Inviting the Whitman contingent to attend was one of the best highlights of the conference,” said Galvao. “I really enjoyed reconnecting with Whitman through the group. Through several meals that we shared, I was happy to learn that Club Latino is still putting together some of its best initiatives, like its annual shadow day for Latino students in the community.”

In addition to Delgado, club President Cynthia Ramos ’14, Ashley Hansack ’15 and Leslie Rodriguez ’15 attended the conference. Delgado said he was pleased that younger students were able to take part, since they are the future leadership of Club Latino.

“I hoped to include rising club leaders,” he said. “It helps them to see what’s possible and to find ways to get more involved with their passions on campus.”

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Adam Delgado '12 and Cynthia Ramos '14 presented work from their State of the State for Washington Latinos course at the conference.

The conference included keynote speeches and panels discussing the role of Latinos in today’s world. Notable speakers included former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Senior Advisor to the President on Immigration Felicia Escobar and CNN en Español Anchor Fernando del Rincon. Funding for the trip was provided by Club Latino, ASWC, First Generation/Working Class Students, the Intercultural Center and the Dean of the Faculty.

“It was an amazing opportunity,” said Ramos. “The speakers were motivational role models. They’ve encouraged me to go to grad school.”

Ramos and Delgado also had the opportunity to present the project they had completed for their State of the State class, which focuses on the effectiveness of English Language Learning programs within the Walla Walla school district. It was the first time State of the State research had been presented at the national level.

“It represented an opportunity for me to connect national level scholars to a project that had made such a positive and deep personal impact on me and that is also changing the face of Washington State,” said Galvao.

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From left: Leslie Rodriguez '15, Cynthia Ramos '14, Adam Delgado '12, Pedro Galvao '10 and Ashley Hansack '15.

Galvao’s favorite moment of the conference was being able to introduce Whitman students to two of the professors whose work they had read as part of State of the State: Louis Desipio of the University of California-Irvine and Rodolfo de la Garza of Columbia University.

“It felt as if I had come full circle from my original State of the State research on Latino voting rights in Walla Walla to my current situation as a graduate student,” he said.

The students who participated in the conference now look forward to implementing what they have learned here at Whitman.

“It’s inspiring to see that there are so many successful Latino leaders,” said Hansack. “Going to the conference made me want to improve.”

Ramos is looking forward to putting on more events that will reach out to the local Latino population. Club members are already mentoring Wa-Hi students and they hope to get involved with a fundraiser through the Children’s Home Society of Washington to provide lunches to elementary school students.

“I liked seeing how I have a chance to get involved,” said Rodriguez. “The conference made me consider becoming involved in politics and representing my community.”

She hopes to see future generations of Whitman students attend the conference.

“I want to encourage future Latino students to attend. It was a very inspirational opportunity, and I want other people to experience that.”

–Karah Kemmerly ’14