Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Latino students gather in Sun Valley

Hispanic Youth Symposium will award college scholarships

Express Staff Writer

Students learn about chemistry in the 'Experiment with a Chemist' workshop at last year’s Hispanic Youth Symposium in Sun Valley in this photo by Doug Hamelin of the Idaho National Laboratory. Photo by

About 300 Latino high school students will gather this weekend in Sun Valley for the 20th annual Hispanic Youth Symposium. The students have been chosen from Idaho high schools to attend workshops and compete for scholarships to attend colleges in five Western states.

Since 1989 over 4,500 students have attended the symposium, and scholarships valued at more than $5 million have been awarded.

Representatives from 15 colleges and universities in Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Montana and Washington will attend the symposium. They will scout for talented students who will compete in speech, talent and interactive skills workshops.

Winners will receive scholarships worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The students will hear past symposium attendees speak on their college careers and work experiences.

Keynote speaker for the symposium this year will be Ruben Gonzales, three-time Olympian in luge and a best-selling author.

Last year, Wood River High School senior Edgar Romero was named "outstanding male student" at the symposium. He won a $3,000 college scholarship.

Five Hispanic students from Wood River High School will attend this year's symposium. They have been chosen based on personal essays about life goals and how they expect the symposium to change their lives.

The Hispanic Youth Symposium was founded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory in 1989 to reduce the high school dropout rate among Hispanic students.

Additional weekend activities will include workshops on self-esteem and financing a college education, as well as on chemistry and the workings of a nuclear reactor.

"Many of these students grew up in migrant worker families," said INL spokeswoman Debra Kahl. "In many cases they are the first in their families who have been able to go to college.

"Maybe some of them would want to work in their home state. These people are the workforce of tomorrow. This is one of the reasons Idaho National Laboratory is involved in this symposium."

Additional sponsors of the symposium include Gem State Diversity Initiatives, Hispanic organizations and private employers.

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