Local families gather in the SSU Wolves' Den to gain information about higher education at last year's summit.
Each year, Sonoma State University hosts a Latino Family Summit, an event specifically catered to the local Hispanic community. The summit aims to provide information about higher education to Latino students and their families through workshops offered by SSU faculty, staff, and students.
This year the summit is April 6, from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. in various venues throughout the campus.
"The purpose of it is to serve the local Hispanic community," SSU Outreach Specialist Melanie Gonzales said. "The way the whole program is set up is that parents come, family members come, students come and they're all coming to just learn about higher education and learn about how to attend a four-year university."
Last year the event brought in more that 600 Latino parents and students from grades, 7-12. This year the focus will be on 9-12 graders from area high schools, with a target of about 300 participants. "We thought that the sessions would be much more interactive, and much more one-on-one and focused when you have a good-sized group," Gonzales said.
The workshops will focus on a variety of topics related to higher education and adjustment to the college experience, including the admission process, financial aid, and proper planning. Parents and students will be separated to attend workshops that provide specialized information to them. Workshops will be conducted in Spanish to properly convey the information to this particular audience.
Gonzales said that within Hispanic communities, there is a strong emphasis on the importance of education. However, because there is a language barrier, these families are not always able to obtain the information and resources they need. This is why the whole program is offered in Spanish to eliminate this obstacle.
Students from Latino Sorority Lambda Theta Nu and Fraternity Nu Alpha Kappa have been involved with the summit for years. This year, their members will continue this tradition by helping lead workshops in cultural awareness, self-esteem, and other relevant information for applying and adjusting to college.
"It's very personal," Gonzales said. "The students talk about their perspective, what they did in high school to get where they are, how their families went through the financial aid process, they bring in guest speakers as well, alumni that have graduated from SSU."
Since a lot of Hispanic families have younger children as well, rather than expecting parents to find a baby sitter on a Saturday morning while they attend the summit, an entire carnival will be provided. Student volunteers and organizations will be running the carnival and looking after the younger children while their parents and siblings are gaining valuable information about higher education.
For further information, contact Melanie Gonzales, Outreach Specialist, Office of Admissions and Student Recruitment, at (707) 664-2938 or Melanie.firstname.lastname@example.org.