ClCORRECTION: This article was updated at 7:12 p.m. on Tuesday. The story indicated that Hermanos Unidos was a club on campus. It is actually a nonprofit organization. Therefore, any mention of club has been corrected in the online edition.
Over 500 young Latino men and some women attended the Hermanos Unidos (HU) National Leadership Conference held for the first time at CSUF Saturday.
“I grew up in a gang-affiliated neighborhood where many of the males were not attending college. I was drawn to (HU) because it’s targeting that exact problem. They take all the knowledge and resources that they have and give it to those males,” said HU alumna and former Community Service Chair Natalie Magaña.
Magaña said she joined the nonprofit organization when she attended CSUF because she knew it would help give her the resources to help others in her community.
“It speaks volumes of the work that’s being done for our Latino males. It sets a standard for this campus on what our Latino males are capable of doing, are willing to do and (what they) are doing for our community in the way that they’re giving back,” Magaña said.
The conference is held once a year at different universities throughout California. This year, it was held in the TSU where 15 different schools, including CSUF, came together to attend workshops that Jorge Ordorica, co-chair of HU, said will help them with their future lives and careers.
Workshop topics included political efficacy, mental health, interview tips, time management, finding jobs and internships and LGBTQ issues.
“We’re one of the newest schools to be able to get established for HU, so it’s a very great achievement and accomplishment for us (to be hosting the conference),” Ordorica said.
The HU’s mission is “to increase the retention rates and graduation rates of Latino males,” Ordorica said.
Ordorica said the conference’s goal is to bring all the schools–which he referred to as “familias,”–together so that they can learn leadership development and improve their professionalism.
“(HU) has definitely given me a space within the university to be able to connect with college students who have similar backgrounds and not only that, but have the same goals that I’m driving towards–which is graduating college and being able to succeed in the professional world,” Ordorica said.
Cesar Cruz, the conference’s keynote speaker, said he drove 400 miles to be there for his 90-minute presentation because he wanted to “teach the truth” to the young men and women in the room.
“In 2017, some people don’t know that they are enslaved mentally,” Cruz said. “They’re often not aware of the falsehoods being taught to them.”
As a former high school history teacher, Cruz said he aims to teach “the truth” by making people aware of what was not “popularly” taught in school.
“At the end of all of this, my question to them will be: Now that you have this new awareness, what are you going to do with it?” Cruz said. “How will you share truth, and what will you do to appreciate the legacy you come from?”
Cruz said Latino males do not have enough positive representation. He said he hopes that his own experiences and presence can give the “Hermanos” the encouragement to graduate and pursue their desired careers.
After almost a year’s worth of preparation that went into the planning and execution of the HU National Leadership Conference, Ordorica said he was happy with the way the “Hermanos” were responding to it.
“I would say the conference was a success,” Ordorica said.