Uniting Latinx voices from all over Sarasota, twelfth-grader Luis Flores organized a panel of guests from various organizations to provide valuable insight on their experiences as Latino and Latina Americans, helping Pine View students explore various career paths and connect with their local community.
Flores hosted the event through his club, UnidosNow, which he started this school year. Pine View’s club is a chapter of the larger organization, UnidosNow, a national organization that aims to promote higher education for Latinx teens. The club promotes higher education for low-income Latinx students at Pine View and in the surrounding community.
Latinx is a gender-neutral term, sometimes used instead of Latino or Latina to refer to people of Latin American cultural or racial identity in the United States. Although most teens have heard of the term, the real meaning of the word is rarely understood. Flores hoped that by hosting this forum, he could bring more Latinx representation to Pine View. By inviting local Latinx leaders from fields including the arts, STEM, social services and more, Flores aimed to encourage community participation and promote Latinx awareness simultaneously in one event.
The speakers that attended the forum include Amalia Flores from Manatee Children’s Services, Cintia Elenstar from UnidosNow, Mercedes Soler from CNN en Espagnol, Univision and SolMart Media, Yvonne Bras from Girl Scouts, Carolina Franco from Crearte Latino Art Center and Will Luera from Florida Studio Theatre. Also attending were Geri Chaffeen from LULAC and Dreamer’s Academy, Cesar Gomez, an immigration attorney and Red Cross Board member, and Neil Comber from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation.
“I’m very proud of all of our efforts that helped create this amazing event,” Flores said. “We had great audience participation, and really tackled interesting topics that are not talked about here on campus.”
Flores hopes the panel contributed to a higher level of appreciation among the audience for the Latinx leaders in the Sarasota/Manatee area. “I hope they learned how vital the Latinx community is in our society,” Flores said.
The guests actively encouraged audience participation, discussing the English for Speakers of Other Languages program, diversity in the workforce, feminism among women of color and more.
“These discussions were facilitated by Latinx voices, which aren’t traditionally heard in these types of discussions,” Flores said.
Every speaker ended the forum by sharing upcoming events, contact information as well as service projects and possible internship opportunities.
UnidosNow meets the last Thursday of the month in Mr. Lamela’s Portable 22.