In the Fall of 2001 a core group of Latina faculty, staff and students at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) lead by Dr. Rosa Moreno-Alcaraz and Rosa Carrillo, came together to assess the needs of Latina students on our campus. It was concluded that students needed to connect, receive support, network and feel included as members of the campus community. It was decided that a Latina Connection Conference would be offered to address these needs and to promote dialogue regarding obstacles that impede academic success/persistence. By the end of the meeting it was decided that students would benefit from a retention conference focused on the intersections of education, family, and culture.
The conference goal is to encourage persistence and retention of Latinas through connection, empowerment and validation. The program agenda includes experiential exchanges focused on:
The first Conference was held March 1, 2002. The Latina Connection Conference is unique in its approach to problem solving because it uses experiential activities and dialogue to help students engage in the process of learning. Students are able to explore their communication style, examine the intersection of culture, gender, family and academic success and identify challenges or obstacles to reaching their goals. They participate in the process as opposed to listening to didactic workshops. This experiential format allows them to actively engage in defining their challenges and identify a variety of options for persevering. In addition students, faculty and staff have collaborated in developing the conference format and guidelines. The creative and extraordinary agenda has come from this collaborative effort. Students who participate in designing the program obtain the added benefit of understanding and participating in program development.