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The U hosted the annual Latinos in Action conference, which bridges the educational gap in the Latino community.

By Annalisa Purser

The University of Utah is hosting nearly 1,400 Latino youth Friday, April 1, for the annual Latinos in Action conference, where they will participate in cultural dances and performances, attend workshops on topics including how to professionally interview and how to speak up in the community, receive thousands of dollars worth of scholarships and hear from the highest-ranking Latina woman in the Combat Support Field of the U.S. Army.

Cultural performance at the 2015 Latinos in Action conference at the University of Utah.

Cultural performance at the 2015 Latinos in Action conference at the University of Utah.

Latinos in Action is a Utah-based nonprofit organization dedicated to bridging the educational gap in the Latino community through leadership classes taught at middle and high schools and by facilitating cultural, leadership, service and educational experiences.

“Our office is dedicated to connecting the community with promises of higher education by helping young people aspire to better their lives through education, leadership, professionalism and service,” said Sandi Pershing, assistant vice president of the U’s Office of Engagement. “We are delighted to host this conference so these students can imagine themselves at college and better understand the impact higher education can have on their futures.”

The conference theme, “LaFamiLIA,” focuses on the importance of civil engagement and creating trailblazers and leaders. The keynote speaker, Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch, broke barriers and set records in the military and was offered the opportunity to assume a command post, but instead decided to retire to fulfill her mother’s dying wish – for her to return to her roots and become a community leader. She will discuss her experience with her human development company, Educational Achievement Services, Inc., which focuses on preparing tomorrow’s leaders.

The U’s student chapter of Latinos in Action was heavily involved in planning the daylong conference. Since November 2015, the team has met weekly in order to secure space, invited faculty and staff to present, gathered more than 100 volunteers and created a video that will be shown to the students before the keynote. The U’s chapter also heavily coordinated the cultural celebrations and dances by LIA students in local high schools. Those performances take place in the afternoon at Kingsbury Hall.

A video of the 2015 Latinos in Action conference, also hosted by the University of Utah, is available here.


Annalisa Purser is a communications specialist at University Marketing and Communications. If you have an interesting story idea, email her at