High school and CSUN students gathered on the lawn in front of Jerome Richfield Hall to take part in the 7th Annual Raza Youth Conference hosted by Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Atzlan on Feb. 26.
The event featured several workshops in which M.E.Ch.A. members educated high school students about issues including gender roles, college life and sexuality. The event takes place every year during the spring semester, as an opportunity for M.E.Ch.A. to reach out to the community.
“I think it was a pretty good turnout,” said Rafael Garcia, member of M.E.Ch.A. “We were very enthusiastic about the response, and the (high school) kids really made it a special event.”
The high school students were shown a tour of the campus and invited to participate in the various workshops that M.E.Ch.A. provided. The workshops included information on personal finance, hip-hop and other topics concerning campus life. There were also caucuses where the students had an opportunity to express themselves to their peers.
“It’s basically an event to get younger people interested in M.E.Ch.A. and their future,” said Garcia. “We inform them about CSUN and possible scholarship opportunities, and about issues we deal with.”
Each year, M.E.Ch.A. visits high schools around the San Fernando Valley to inform them of the Raza Youth Conference. Students of all ages, as well as parents, are welcome to attend.
“We go to the high schools and tell them who we are and what we do for the community,” said Garcia. “Many of the students that attended are from the area, (and) we encourage them to take part in as many events as they can.”
After the morning workshops, the students were treated to lunch and some entertainment from the Cultural Theatre dancers, who performed their routine in front of Sierra Hall. There were also speakers from M.E.Ch.A. who encouraged the students to fight for “The Raza’s right to higher education.”
“I’m not really sure where I’m going to college, but I feel that events like this are important in finding which college to attend,” said Lara Sanchez, a student at San Fernando High School. “I’m here with three of my friends. We’re definitely thinking about attending CSUN since it’s close to home.”
Many students reiterated her sentiments after attending the event, and said they felt a need to take part in the community and help out as often as possible.
“I got interested in M.E.Ch.A. when my brother told me about his experience with them a couple of years back,” said Mario Cabrera, a junior at Granada Hills Charter High School. “I decided to come out and see what this was about. It makes me want to be a part of this community.”
The next event hosted by M.E.Ch.A. will be their National Conference from March 24-28 at CSUN. The event will include chapters from all over the nation.