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More than 200 undergraduate Latina students applied, but only 22 were chosen for the eighth annual Latinas Learning to Lead Summer Youth Institute sponsored by the National Hispana Leadership Institute.

One of four students to apply from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh this year, Rosa-Velez Alvarez is the first Titan to be selected for the national program.

“Rosa is a natural born leader and she has strong communication skills,” Flora Stapel, UW Oshkosh Admissions Counselor and Hispanic liaison said. “She was able to write a strong application letter which included the many instances where she took on leadership roles at UW Oshkosh.”

To apply to the program, students had to demonstrate leadership in volunteer positions, show a strong commitment to Latino issues, be between the ages of 17 and 22, graduate no sooner than December 2008, have a minimum of 30 credit hours by May 2008 and a minimum 2.5 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.

Alvarez, an elementary education and Spanish education major, over cedes these criteria. The Mexico City native owns an extensive community service list that includes volunteering to help English as a Second Language (ESL) students and teachers at several elementary and middle schools in the Oshkosh community with vocabulary and assessment techniques. She also is president of the Student Organization of Latinos and organizes events to recognize racism, immigration and bilingual education. Alvarez’ most recent program, the Intersection of Racism and Heterosexism, featured speaker Jamie Washington who she met at the White Privilege Conference in Springfield, Mass. this April.

In addition to Alvarez, the following students will attend the one-week all-inclusive program July 20 to 26 in Washington, D.C.:

• Pamela Alvarado, Communication Studies, Central Washington University
• Erika Anchondo, Organizational and Corporate Communication, The University of Texas at El Paso
• Maria Banuelos, Elementary Education and Reading, Lewis-Clark State College
• Karina Bermeo, Marketing, Pennsylvania State University
• Mayra Contreras, English, Santa Clara University
• Nolvia Delgado, Liberal Arts, Borough of Manhattan Community College
• Kisbel Fernandez, Operations Management, Baruch College
• Jessica Flores, History of Art and Visual Culture, University of California Santa Cruz
• Karen Flores, Business Entrepreneurship, University of Arizona
• Andrea Giraudo, International Business, University of Georgia
• Laura Gonzalez, Nursing, Armstrong Atlantic State University
• Laura Gonzalez, Government, California State University Sacramento
• Sayra Gordillo, Political Science, University of Missouri Kansas City
• Alicia Marquez, Social Work, California State University Sacramento
• Juana Matias, Political Science, University of Massachusetts Boston
• Christian Ortiz, Pre-Medicine, Arizona State University
• Rosela Roman, Sociology, Santa Ana Community College
• Odalys Solares, Accounting, Miami Dade College
• Jacqueline Tolentino, Early Childhood Education, DePaul University
• Natalia Trinidad, Biology, Creighton University
• Victoria Watson-Nava, Psychology, Colorado State University Pueblo

“I didn’t realize so many people applied for this program,” Alvarez said. “I am honored and excited to be traveling to Washington, and I am looking forward to meeting and connecting with these motivating people.”

What happens in Washington, D.C.

At the conference, participants will develop professional and technical skills and gain insight into public policy issues that affect the Latino community. The Institute also focuses on developing the participant’s personal and career plans, health and well-being, entrepreneurship and leadership skills. There are sessions on cross-cultural communications, conflict resolutions and race, class and gender issues.

“I want to learn to get more people involved in programs on campus and how to be more patient,” Alvarez said in regard to her expectations of the Institute. “I would also like to work on my public speaking skills.”

Evelyn Garcia-Morales, program coordinator for the National Hispana Leadership Institute, says participants will meet with policy advocates in the Organization of American States, State Department and White House to discuss Latino programs that can be implemented on the local and university levels.

The conference also provides a forum for participants to network with current Latino leaders and gives them the opportunity to meet the future Latina leaders of America.

“Many women who have been exposed to Washington, D.C through this program are now doing remarkable things,” Garcia said.

By making connections at the conference, a past Institute participant was able to work for current senate majority leader Senator Harry Reid.

This year’s conference features keynote speaker Consuelo Castillo-Kickbusch, a retired Lieutenant Colonel for the United States Army, founder and president of Educational Achievement Services and the highest-ranking Hispanic woman in the U.S. Army Combat Support Field. Kickbusch will speak to the Latina participants about cultural development and the importance of honoring their past while exploring their future.