Feb 272003
Authors: Amy Bergstrom

Dozens of eighth and ninth grade Hispanic males will gather at CSU this Saturday to take part in the first annual Los Manos youth leadership conference.

The conference, organized by the Sigma Lambda Beta fraternity, will bring CSU and Sigma Lambda Beta alumni to campus to speak about their experiences since leaving CSU.

“The purpose is to empower the participants,” said Rich Salas, assistant director of El Centro Student Services and faculty advisor for Sigma Lambda Beta. “We want to expose them to career opportunities, build self esteem and provide positive role models.”

Sigma Lambda Beta alumni who will be speaking include Nathan Cadena, a financial aid advisor at Front Range Community College in Denver, and Frank Sanchez, vice president for student affairs at Adams State College.

“The facilitators will show how being in the fraternity has impacted their lives,” said Arthur Garcia, a member of Sigma Lambda Beta and a junior majoring in business.

Also presenting at the conference will be Jesus Negrete, a nationally known scholar and musicologist. Negrete will use songs and slides to teach about history and issues that young people are going through, Salas said.

Sigma Lambda Beta has been planning this conference as a way to reach out to youth, especially Hispanic youth, in the Fort Collins area.

“We will eventually open it up to all kids from all backgrounds, but we thought it was important to first set the standard for kids from our background,” Salas said. “We want to plant a seed of letting them know that they can do anything.”

The conference is free to the 60 to 70 participants, who are mostly from Fort Collins, but will also come from Denver, Greeley and Commerce City.

The organizers intend to make the conference an annual event occurring in March, in honor of the late Cesar Chavez, who was born in March.

“We’ve always wanted to do this, and it’s just going to grow from here in reaching all Latino students,” Garcia said.

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