By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer
Enthusiasm rippled through the crowd as high school students gathered Friday at Eastern New Mexico University to participate in the second annual Latino Leadership Summit.
Keynote speaker Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch spoke passionately about her experiences growing up in the barrio in Laredo, Texas, and the challenges she faced as a child and as an adult.
“When you’re educated, you’re free at last,” said Kickbusch, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel.
She also stressed to the students how important it is to respect their parents and others.
“I’m tired of people blaming Latinos for bringing education down,” Kickbusch said. “Please, let’s make New Mexico an example the rest of the United States can learn from.
“Success takes effort, concentration and discipline,” she said.
New Mexico Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron spoke to the students about being part of the idea generation. This idea generation, she said, is to provide help for the students to compete with other worlds.
Obtaining their high school diplomas and college degrees can provide that power, Vigil-Giron said.
“You see, in this world, knowledge is power,” Vigil-Giron said.
Dreams of a college education should not be dashed because of financial means, she said.
“Your voices and talents are absolutely critical for the future,” Vigil-Giron said.
According to event organizer, Diego Espinoza, approximately 400 students attended the summit.
Espinoza said students were challenged to participate in a community project, he said. Students are asked to put together a political, cultural or community outreach event and present it at next year’s summit, he said.
Floyd sophomore Jeny Ortiz said the summit provided her with the knowledge to go forth in her education.
“Even though you have a tough life, you can have a future if you put your mind to it,” Ortiz said.