Nearly 200 high school students from across Alabama are traveling to
Huntsville, Ala., to participate in the “Mi Futuro” (“My Future”) Latin
American Youth Conference, to be held Oct. 3-4 at the U.S. Space & Rocket

The event is co-sponsored by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in
Huntsville and the Alabama Latin American Association and Stillman College,
both of Tuscaloosa, Ala. Organizers hope the conference will motivate
Hispanic students to continue their education.

“The conference is intended to be a celebration for these kids,” said Elia
Ordonez, manager of the Hispanic Employment Program at the Marshall Center.
“We want them to take pride in their lives, to celebrate their
accomplishments in education with their families and community.”

The goal of the conference is to create mentoring opportunities and prevent
students from dropping out of school. Ordonez said, “It’s important to
foster young people’s pride in their Hispanic culture and history and
encourage students to pursue higher education.”

Each participating school has selected a number of Hispanic students to
attend the two-day event. Students are chosen from rural and underprivileged
families that show an eagerness to learn.

During the conference, students will meet with Marshall Center Deputy
Director Rex Geveden, NASA scientists and engineers, appointed state leaders
and business professionals. Student participants also will tour the U.S.
Space & Rocket Center and attend workshops that focus on self-esteem,
Hispanic heritage and college and job preparation skills.

Participating Alabama schools include: Albertville High School; Decatur High
School and Austin High School in Decatur; Athens High School, Clements High
School and Tanner High School in Athens; Bob Jones High School in Madison;
Butler High School in Huntsville; Clay-Chalkville High School in Trussville;
Cleveland High School; Gaston High School in Etowah County; Hoover High
School; Hayes High School in Birmingham; Minor High School in Adamsville;
Ozark City High School; Pelham High School; Pinson Valley High School;
Rainbow Middle School in Rainbow City; St. James School in Montgomery;
Sardis High School; Southside High School in Etowah County; Vestavia Hills
High School; and West End High School in Walnut Grove.

Alabama organizations teaming with the event sponsors include Hispanic
Outreach Latinos Adelante of Madison and Morgan Counties; the Coalition for
Hispanic Community in Russellville; the Hispanic Interest Coalition of
Central Alabama; the Hispanic Business Council in Birmingham; the Hispanic
Coalition of Central West Alabama; the Montgomery Hispanic Interest Group;
the Wiregrass Hispanic Coalition in Dothan; the Migrant Clinic in Baldwin
and Mobile Counties; the Chandler Mountain Center in Oneonta; the Central
Alabama Alliance for Latino Health; the Arbol de Vida Hispanic Interest
Group in Ozark City; the Hispanic Coalition of Saint Clair County; and the
Hispanic Coalition of Marshall and Dekalb Counties.

For more on this story and other diversity-related news and events, visit
the Marshall Center’s Diversity News Web site at: