MECHA’s CECLC leadership conference


Photo from creative commons

Key note speaker Jimmy_Morales_Cabrera

On Friday, March 2nd, students from MECHA had the chance to go to Cesar Chavez’s leadership conference. CECLC began in the 1990’s as a convention of Hispanic high school students from Portland Public Schools. As time has gone by, the conference has evolved and now consists of 75 high schools. Every year, more and more students appear, and up to this year, about 2200 students and volunteers have participated in running CECLC, which takes place at Western Oregon University. This makes it one of the largest Latino student leadership conferences in the Pacific Northwest.  

In the conference, students have the opportunity to visit cultural and leadership workshops and attend college and career exhibitors. The conference also celebrates and recognizes the accomplishments of the Latino community.

CECLC keynote speaker Jimmy Cabrera talks about the open opportunities that come with being Hispanic. He questioned the students in the audience and said, “What’s in your backpack?” The students took this very seriously, causing them to think deeply about it. Jimmy explained that what was inside was education. He had education as well: that was something no one can ever take away from him. He provides other explanations and past events that happened in his life. He’s lived with discrimination but told students that that didn’t stop him from being successful. He moved the people with his determination and strength.

After the introduction, many schools left with their group and attended the college fair where students enjoyed conversations and explored their interests for future careers. Soon after, the groups learned about culture, what it means to us, and how to handle and respond to everyday microaggressions.

At the end of the day, the high school students assembled at the gym addressed the scholarship winners and recognized the student art, poetry, and video contest winners. The CECLC scholarship program is an important part of the annual conference. They have awarded nearly five hundred thousand dollars in scholarship funds. CECLC’s goal at the end of the day is for Hispanic students to continue their education, strive to meet their goals and to strengthen self-confidence and pride, and to always remind ourselves that we all have opportunities no matter where we stand.