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SBCC hosts High School Equity and Leadership Conference

High school students and City College volunteers sit together listening to students life stories and a music performance at the “High School Equity and Leadership Conference” on Friday, April 28, on West Campus. Students were from the local high schools, Dos Pueblos, San Marcos, Carpinteria, and Santa Barbara high school.

BROOKE SNOW, Channels Staff

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Nearly 500 local high school students gathered at City College’s first annual High School Equity and Leadership Conference where they learned about campus life and being leaders in their community.

Laughter and music paraded the air between 9 a.m and 4 p.m. Friday, April 28, on the West Campus Lawn.

Students were given the chance to connect with one another through creativity and sharing their life experiences in workshops provided to promote leadership and self-expression, such as music and poetry.

Students came from local high schools in the district, including Dos Pueblos, San Marcos, Carpinteria and Santa Barbara high school.

“We targeted the students that often get overlooked,” said Equity Committee Director Luis Giraldo, who played a major role in putting on the event.

“We wanted them to understand that this is part of college life, and they too are students, and they too belong.”

The event was put on by the Equity Committee with help from the Wellness Connection, International Students Office and Extended Opportunity Programs and Services.

Geoff Green, chief executive officer for the SBCC Foundation, attended the conference to inform local high school students about the SBCC College Promise.  He encouraged them to take advantage of free higher education that is provided for residents.

After students participated in games, a dance competition that broke out into a dance party, indulged in shaved ice and took group pictures, everyone was asked to join around the DJ tent so students and volunteers could perform songs and poetry they prepared for the event.

Dennilson Alvarez, 18, a Dos Pueblos High School student, performed a few of his poems where he expressed his struggles with immigration, the flawed American dream and being a person of color. He asked the crowd to snap every time they felt they could relate to something he said in his poem.

Alvarez began by talking about the American dream. When he spoke about parents working multiple jobs with long hours and barely making it, the crowd snapped in unison. When Alvarez spoke about wanting true equal opportunities, the crowd snapped. And when Alvarez spoke about the struggle he and his family endured through immigration when he was 5 years old, he started to tear up and the crowd snapped, clapped and cheered him on to finish his poem.

The conference gave students an opportunity to share their life struggles, learn how to overcome them, express themselves and meet others in the Santa Barbara community.

“I really love coming to these events,” Alvarez said. “Learning about other people’s stories that are similar to mine, who are different to mine… it’s just beautiful to come and connect with many different people.”

Giraldo said he was thrilled with how the event came together and the turnout was even greater than they anticipated. The Equity Committee hopes to continue showing students that City College is a place for learning, equality, and opportunity no matter what background a person comes from.

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SBCC hosts High School Equity and Leadership Conference