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West campus hosts AGUILA Leadership Symposium

July 14, 2010

For the third year in a row, Arizona State University’s West campus will host the AGUILA Leadership Symposium, a four-day experience designed to provide opportunities for Latino/Latina students entering grades 9-12 to better understand the university process.

The symposium, an integral part of the year-long AGUILA Youth Leadership Institute, takes place July 28-31 and will attract more than 200 students.

This year’s symposium theme is “Creating a Masterpiece.”  The total-immersion event, which includes participating students living in Las Casas, the campus apartment-style residences, will feature prominent artists, scholars, professors and learning activities.  Mock 30-minute classes will introduce students to university-quality lectures and discussions that focus on popular college majors.  A workshop that helps students see themselves as community leaders will culminate in a “Leaders Networking Mixer,” and a college fair will provide information on registration, scholarship opportunities, student life and more.

“Applications continue to grow each year,” says Rosemary Ybarra-Hernandez, founder and CEO of the institute.  “This year is no different; our record numbers will most likely exceed 200 students from across the state.

“We are determined to make the symposium an even greater success in 2010 and have designed the event to provide our students with an unforgettable experience, one that will help them to make connections in the development of a plan for college.  Most importantly, we want to help the students develop a plan for participating in a world that values their minds and their hearts.”

Among ASU faculty who will participate in the symposium is Gloria Cuadraz, an associate professor of sociology in the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.  A fixture on the West campus since 1994, Cuadraz will deliver two mock lectures about her award-winning oral history research in the West Valley community – one focusing on the history of oral histories, another on the theoretical concepts she works with while interpreting data.

“This kind of event accomplishes the important task of introducing these students to college life, academic standards, the culture of the university, and it provides them with the ever-critical ‘heads up’ about the next stage of their lives,” says Cuadraz, who received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley, and was awarded “Best of the West” honors from WESTMARC in 2006 for her oral history project, “Mexican Americans of Litchfield Park.”  “It also allows them to meet other students who are college-bound and to bask in the excitement of like others.”

Ybarra-Hernandez says the West campus location is an ideal fit for the event.

“We have a great fondness for the West campus,” she says.  “It is the jewel in the West Valley and provides this community with incredible opportunities.  The campus offers such a strong academic environment and a state-of-the-art facility with a variety of educational opportunities for our students, as well as their parents, who are considering college.
“There is a sense of community at the West campus that mirrors our mission in service to our students.”

Cuadraz points to ASU’s focus on community service and meaningful engagement as she prepares for the symposium.

“Hosting this event personifies one of our strengths – that of social embeddedness and involvement with the community,” says Cuadraz, who co-founded and directed the New College bachelor’s degree program in ethnicity, race, and first nations studies for six years.  “The fact that several ASU faculty are participating in the symposium speaks to the qualities and values of our faculty.  We are a part of the community; only by building those connections with the incoming populations of students can we hope to achieve the promises of the New American University.”

The associate professor is also impressed with the AGUILA students.

“The eagerness and enthusiasm of these students is heartwarming,” she says.  “I have never met a more determined group of students.  The knowledge they have gathered from their participation in AGUILA will carry them to whichever institution of higher education they attend.  Of course, we prefer they attend ASU, but I look forward to hearing about their achievements and the leadership roles they will surely come to possess.”

For more information about the AGUILA Youth Leadership Institute and the upcoming Leadership Symposium, visit