Victor Garcia, director of the Mid-Atlantic Addiction Research and Training Institute and an anthropologist, and eight IUP students attended the Kennett High School Multicultural and Diversity Awareness Conference on Saturday, April 14, 2012.
Their objectives at the conference were to give IUP additional visibility in southeastern Pennsylvania, an area with a rapidly growing minority population, mainly Latinos, and to recruit students to IUP. They accomplished this ambitious task by staffing an IUP information/recruitment table, offering a workshop on Latinos and education, and giving a dance performance at the conference’s talent show.
The workshop, titled “The Dream Act: What You Should Know,” was delivered by Garcia and two Caring about Latino Student Achievement (CALSA) students, Diana Gomez-Franco (Business) and Alyssa Ortega (Anthropology). The dance group Ritmo Latino, under the leadership of La Doña Sharlyne Rios, delivered an impressive 10-minute dance routine organized around a fusion of tango (Argentina), bachata (Caribbean), salsa (Caribbean-Colombian), and hip-hop (East Coast-South Florida). The Ritmo Latino dancers were Sharlyne Rios (International Business), Alaya Scott (Fashion Merchandise), Rebecca Canales (English Education), Jose Aponte (Criminology), Daniel Cerritos (Hospitality Management), and Ivan Nuñez (Spanish for International Trade and Economics). The IUP students came in at second place in the contest, being edged out by Esperanza Academy Charter School, located in Philadelphia.
For the last 11 years, the annual Kennett High School Multicultural and Diversity Awareness Conference has attracted hundreds of students—minorities and non-minorities—from nearby school districts, among them York, Allentown, Philadelphia, Norristown, and Coatesville. This year, IUP was the only university to participate. In the past, Millersville University of Pennsylvania, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, and West Chester University have been present with faculty presenters and recruiters. The mission of this increasingly popular conference is to bring many high school and college students, parents, school personnel, and other professionals together to discuss important issues and topics related to the cultural and diversity differences and similarities that exist in our society today. The conference is organized around guest speakers, a number of workshops, and a talent show at the end of the day. Funding for these activities is from the Kennett Consolidated School District and community donations.
Garcia is well familiar with the region and, together with CALSA students and (in the past) LaSO students, has previously participated in the conference. Since 1993, he has conducted a number of research projects in local communities that address the concerns and needs of the growing Mexican immigrant and migrant populations. Garcia, in close coordination with Shawn Jones and other staff at the IUP Admissions Office, also helps to recruit Latino and other students from the local high schools to IUP, including from Kennett High School.
IUP student participation at the conference was made possible with funds and resources from the Dean’s Office in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Office of Admissions, the Office of Vice President for Enrollment and Management, and the Mid-Atlantic Addiction Research and Training Institute.The support from these offices is greatly appreciated.