Wyoming Latina Youth Conference

October 11, 2019 all-day

A record 300 participants, including students and school chaperones, are expected for the 19th annual Wyoming Latina Youth Conference (WLYC) Oct. 11-12 on the University of Wyoming campus.

The WLYC is an annual celebration of “the power of choice” for Wyoming’s Latina youth, says WLYC Executive Director Cecelia Aragon, a UW professor of theater and dance.

The conference’s Friday, Oct. 11, banquet and the Saturday, Oct. 12, daylong workshops are specifically geared toward Latina students in grades 5-12.

“However, we welcome any and all young women who may be interested in participating,” Aragon says.

Registration for the WLYC is $50 after Friday, Oct. 4. The fee includes all conference events, an evening banquet dinner, and breakfast and lunch Oct. 12.

The registration form and full schedule of events are available online at www.uwyo.edu/wlyc/.

The banquet, which begins at 6 p.m. in the UW Conference Center, is open to the public at a cost of $50 per person. Reservations are required by emailing ccaragon@uwyo.edu.

WLYC is an educational pipeline program at UW focused on empowering at-risk young Latinas through mentorship and exposure to higher education. After many years being held in Cheyenne, the conference has permanently moved under the umbrella of UW.

The theme for this fall’s conference is “Embracing Leadership, Science and Creativity.” Students will participate in a variety of workshops to discuss topics in science, technology, engineering and mathematics; healthy relationships; identity; creativity; and leadership.

UW Latina students will serve as peer mentors, working with the school participants and leading all the various workshops. Many of the UW students participated in the WLYC during their public school days. They add that the WLYC exposed them to UW and taught them the importance of seeking a higher education degree.

Some of the participants who have signed up early are from: Afflerbach Elementary, Carey Junior High School, Johnson Junior High School and PODER Academy, all in Cheyenne; Big Horn High School; Green River High School; Greybull schools; Jackson Hole High School and Middle School; Kelly Walsh High School in Casper; Laramie High School and Middle School; Sheridan High School; and UW Lab School.

Aragon says she expects several more schools to register their students before the convention.

The conference’s keynote speaker at the banquet is Stephanie Villafuerte, from Denver. She will discuss “Inspiring and Motivating Latinas for Success.”

For the past 30 years, Villafuerte has served as one of Colorado’s leading child advocates. As a practicing attorney and public policy expert, she has used her skills and education to advocate for the rights of Colorado’s abused and neglected children.

Villafuerte currently serves as Colorado’s child protection ombudsman. Her agency is responsible for serving the Colorado community by reviewing citizen complaints about the child protection system as well as by making systemic recommendations to the Colorado governor’s office and the Colorado State Legislature to improve the safety of Colorado’s children.

The past three decades, Villafuerte has drafted numerous pieces of legislation and worked with legislators to pass nearly two dozen laws that protect Colorado children. Her passion for children’s issues stems from her own upbringing. Villafuerte was raised by a single mother and lived in poverty for several years.

She has served for five years as the executive director of the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center. Villafuerte has a distinguished legal career serving as child abuse prosecutor for 14 years in both the Denver District Attorney’s Office and the Colorado United States Attorney’s Office.

For more information about the conference, call Aragon at (307) 766-2164 or email ccaragon@uwyo.edu.