Santa Paula Times

A panel discussion entitled “The good, the bad, and the ugly of college life” was presented by (left to right) Rosa Maria Navarro, a 2012 graduate of the University of California at Davis; Danny Cacino, a sophomore at Ventura College; Bailey Van Buren, a freshman at California Lutheran University; Yasmine Valasquez, a freshman at Ventura College; and Veronica Landeros, a senior at SPHS.

Spring Leadership Conference held for local students

April 01, 2016
Santa Paula News

By Letitia Austin

 Over 130 students from Santa Paula High School and Renaissance High School spent the start of their spring break attending the 3rd annual Spring Leadership Conference held on Monday, March 21 and Tuesday, March 22 at Santa Paula High School. This year’s conference was hosted by the Santa Paula Youth Empowerment Initiative Partnership consisting of the Santa Paula Latino Town Hall, Santa Paula High School, Renaissance High School, Santa Paula Unified School District, Oxnard College, Ventura College, and the Ronald Reagan Leadership Program. The conference was organized by three Ronald Reagan Fellows — Chris Magana, Estefany Mendoza, and Araceli Navarro – as part of their community service project.

“I’m really excited because our goal is to build a college-going culture here in Santa Paula,” said Richard Castaniero, a teacher at Santa Paula High School and a Latino Town Hall member. “We are giving them the nuts and bolts of leadership, education, and soft skills to be successful.”  

Students participating in the conference took the first step towards finding their passion and career goals by learning about the realities of college life and about different career fields from professionals.

Day one of the conference focused on students attending colleges and universities and also included a presentation by Tony Magee, a motivational speaker and author of the book: “Can’t Shove a Great Life Into a Small Dream.” He shared valuable, life-essential tips with students to match their dreams to the life they aspire to have.

“The meaning of life is to know what your purpose is,” Magee told students. “You are going to go through new things, but don’t be afraid. The only thing that is permanent is change.” 

Students participated in break-out groups throughout the day to get to know each other, practiced their public speaking skills, and shared their personal stories. In the afternoon, a panel discussion entitled: “The good, the bad, and the ugly of college life” included Santa Paula High School alumni who went on to attend, and graduate from, colleges and universities.

Day two of the leadership conference focused on career readiness with a “TEDTalk” on the disparity of poverty presented by Dr. Jamish Damooie, Professor and Chair of Economics, Finance & Accounting and Co-Director of the Center for Leadership & Values at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Later in the afternoon, students participated in action groups focused on such issues as immigration, community law, and food justice. There was also a “College to Career” panel of participants from the community who shared their experiences about preparing for service. The day wrapped up with students participating in goal-setting activities and creating vision boards to help them stay on course.

“Four years ago, we identified the need to get more heavily involved with our students,” said Santa Paula Latino Town Hall President, Lorenzo Moraza when asked about the Leadership Conference. “To me, the future is very bright. We invite community members and other organizations to offer their support by being a part of next year’s conference.”

Tony Magee speaking to high school students about “Turning the Impossible into the I Am Possible.”