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Erica L. Petty

George Vlahakis
Media Relations

Last modified: Thursday, February 6, 2003

IU Bloomington to host fourth annual Indiana Latino/a Collegiate Leadership Conference

La Casa, Indiana University Bloomington's Latino Culture Center, strives to better serve the Latino community through its outreach programs including dance and music workshops, job preparation sessions, conferences and an array of other events.

La Casa will be holding its fourth annual Indiana Latino/a Collegiate Leadership Conference on March 1. It is a day-long event that helps students, faculty and professionals from diverse backgrounds to learn about issues facing Latino college students.

"This conference is one of the most energy-filled conferences that I have experienced since coming to work on the Bloomington campus. I wish we could bottle the energy and enthusiasm and share it with others," said Charlie Nelms, IU vice president for student development and diversity.

"The conference's goal is to assist in the preparation of Indiana's Latino college student population into well-rounded leaders," said Lillian Casillas, La Casa's director. "Celebrating the distinctiveness of Latino scholarship and leadership, the conference fosters and encourages development. Our main mission is not only to build leadership within ourselves, but also to create a strong Latino network."

The event will consist of nine different panel discussions and a keynote speaker. This year's keynote speaker will be Judge Jesse Villalpando, an IU alumnus who presides over the Lake County Indiana Circuit Court.

Panel discussion topics will be: "The Status of Latinos in Indiana," "Latino Greek Letter Organizations," "Going to Graduate School from the Latino Perspective," "Cultural Competency," "Networking with Latino Professionals After Graduation," "Issues of Identity" and "Navigating Through the College Admissions Process."

All of the discussions are designed for the diverse group of students and professionals involved in the conference. Attendees will include students from IU Bloomington, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Ivy Tech State College, and local high schools, and also may include students and faculty from the University of Notre Dame, Purdue University, the University of Indianapolis and IU Kokomo. Local political representatives and professionals are expected to attend.

After the workshops, students and professionals are able to talk one on one with each other and are given the opportunity to network with each other.

"We are not looking to make it a huge conference. It is really personal," Casillas said. In assembling the panels and attendees, she works with a variety of constituencies, including the IU Alumni Association, to help students build relationships.

La Casa expects to have more than 100 participants this year. The registration deadline is Feb. 21. A fee of $5 is required to cover food expenses. For more information about the conference, contact Casillas at 812-855-0174 or