Newman students took part in the 40th annual United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI) conference Feb. 17 and 18.
The event was co-hosted virtually between Hispanic American Leadership Organization (HALO) clubs from Newman University and Friends University. It was funded by the Newman Student Government Association.
The theme of the conference was “Re-Envisioning the Hispanicization of America,” which featured several guest speakers including celebrities Eva Longoria and Danny Trejo. Both spoke about empowering the Latino community and how important voting is, among other topics.
“Other speakers also talked about socio-economic justice, empowering women of color, financial literacy and combating imposter syndrome,” added Dean of Students Sara Mata.
In total there were 15 students, faculty, staff and alumni who participated in the conference.
“Thursday’s event was to have been held at Friends University, but the snowstorm closed both campuses so we watched from home,” Sonja Bontrager, assistant professor of Spanish, said. “Friday we ventured out to the Dugan Library and had a watch party in the Tarcisia Roths Alumni Center. Most of those who attended came and went according to their class schedules.”
Bontrager said that even though the USHLI conference was held over Zoom and didn’t have the same effect, it was still inspiring to watch and listen to the leaders empower students and see the students be able to work together.
“It recognizes Hispanic leaders working in a wide range of industries, professions, and civic life, and gives them the opportunity to share their perspectives and experiences with students,” Bontrager said. “Traditionally, it has also allowed students to connect and network with leaders and other students from all over the country.”
Mata said she enjoyed the collaboration by the Newman and Friends University communities, each of which helped organized student engagement with the USHLI conference.
“It was just inspiring seeing how bridging not only the work that we’re doing at the universities but also in the community and those collaborative efforts,” Mata said.
Bontrager said that for the last 10 years, the USHLI conference has been a “significant event for Newman HALO members.”
“It provides inspiration, examples and representation that had been missing in their educational experiences,” Bontrager said. “We look forward to a time when students can gather again in Chicago and be among these leaders.”