Texas Southmost College recently hosted a student leadership conference for more than 300 high school and college students, making it one of the largest, most attended leadership conferences in the Rio Grande Valley.
The inaugural Evolve: The Latinx Leadership Experience conference, is the only of its kind in the region and was hosted by TSC Student Life and organized by a conference committee that consisted of TSC faculty, staff and students.
TSC Executive Director of Student Life and Civility Armando Ponce, Ph.D., said this year’s conference came together by merging the college’s annual male leadership conference and Latina conference to expand the opportunity to more students.
“We want all students to feel empowered,” said Ponce. “Every student is a leader; they just need the tools and the confidence to lead, and the goal of this conference is to help them grow and evolve into those leaders.”
TSC Criminal Justice student Fatima Rodriguez Martinez said the conference and its speakers were an inspiration in letting students like her know that they can be leaders too.
“This conference really focused on issues and topics that matter to us or that are important for us and our futures,” said Martinez. “We could relate to everything and to the speakers, that was valuable to me. This was an opportunity that motivated and left me inspired.”
Topics covered during the conference included personal finances, social media presence, high school to college pathway, school-life balance, communication with professors, domestic violence awareness and a leadership roundtable.
Deputy City Manager and Executive Director of Greater Brownsville Helen Ramirez and Chief Executive Officer of Doctors Hospital at Renaissance Dr. Carlos Cardenas served as keynote speakers for the conference speaking about their journeys with education, success, obstacles and leadership.
For TSC General Studies student Miguel Gutierrez Veloz, hearing the speakers’ stories and insights and having the chance to network with other like-minded students and professionals was an eye opener.
“This conference gave me a different perspective on leadership and what it means to become a leader,” said Veloz. “I’m grateful to TSC for giving us this opportunity and I hope many other students and generations get this experience. My hopes are that this continues to grow and help many others.”
Ponce said hearing positive feedback and seeing the students engaged during presentations and open discussions makes it evident that this year’s leadership conference was a success and that it is a crucial in preparing students for college, careers and their futures.
“If students are engaged, they’re learning and if they’re learning, they’re receiving our message,” said Ponce. “This will be an annual event so that we can continue giving students from across the Rio Grande Valley access to leadership training and personal development.”