Though the start of the fall semester is still more than a month away, Saint Leo is already seeing a sea of new faces across its campus. On June 28, the National Hispanic Institute kicked off its International Collegiate World Series Conference. For five days, a slew of promising students will eat, sleep, and learn on the University campus and get a taste of the college lifestyle that awaits them.
The event officially began with a welcoming ceremony held in the SCC boardrooms at 3:30 p.m. President William Lennox and other members of Saint Leo faculty addressed the students, explaining what they could expect living on the campus for the next few days. Students then participated in a brief ice-breaker before heading to the dining hall for dinner.
The National Hispanic Institute is the nation’s largest Latino youth organization based out of Texas and the Collegiate World Series Conference is an annual event that has been hosted in various parts of the U.S. Saint Leo University has become the NHI’s latest partner in the almost 40-year-old program and John Lopez, the vice chair of the NHI’s board of directors, was thrilled to be bringing the event to the campus for the first time.
“We had previously reached out to Saint Leo and it just seemed like a good fit,” said Lopez. “Any time we can partner with a university and help provide programming to kids, then that allows us to keep our tuition rates affordable.”
Through July 2, promising Latino high school seniors will compete as teams in a series of events and workshops designed to prepare them for college and life beyond. Such activities include learning to write essays and résumés, how to fill out college and job applications, understanding the college admissions process and financial aid, and more. The workshops are primarily meant to be educational, but are designed with fun in mind.
As its name suggests, the program follows a baseball theme. Each workshop becomes a game in the world series. Participating teams of students are coached through each lesson by admissions counselors from the NHI, who will help bring each student one step closer to winning the event and acquiring successful leadership skills.
“The first part of the program is to teach kids a little bit about the college admissions process, and we do that using a game model. Tonight, there will be a short college fair where the kids will get to go around and meet the different college representatives who are here. Those representatives are actually going to be the coaches for the different teams,” explained Lopez. “After the college fair, the coaches are going to meet and they’re going to hold a draft.
For the kids, part of the college fair is going to be to make sure that the coaches remember them. We call this the first-round draft choice.”
When all is said and done, students are expected to leave with a better understanding of the different processes they will be faced with when applying for and attending a university, as well as useful skills needed for life beyond that. Many of these students may choose to apply what they’ve learned at the conference by enrolling at Saint Leo in future semesters.
To learn more about the National Hispanic Institute and all that it has to offer, visit their official website at http://www.nationalhispanicinstitute.org.