The 6-day conference involves promising Latino high school freshman from throughout the Midwest in debates and activities. According to Head Coach Marissa Guerra, the program seeks to set a stage for students' self-realization process through games and competitions.
"We believe this generation will shape society," Guerra said. "We help these kids to feel challenges and overcome setbacks to learn lessons for the future."
Students attending the conference must be in the top ten percent of their classes and be recommended by their teachers or administrators. Students participate in an intensive weeklong debate process with three parts: Extemporaneous speaking, cross-examination and oration.
Finalist in cross-examination Athina Angel said any Latinos with the opportunity to participate in the conference should choose to participate.
"It really taught me self-confidence," Angel said. "I also learned that I have to be firm in my opinions and be able to back them up with facts."
Students debated topics relevant to the Latino community such as images created by mainstream media, taking charitable contributions and women's roles.
Another debate finalist, Fernanda Tovar, said the students have bonded throughout the week.
"The first day, we all became like a family," Tovar said. "We study and prepare together and hang out in a different persons room every night."
According to Guerra, using facilities such as DePauw University aids children in their plans for the future.
"Through our partnerships with universities like this, we are able to expose kids to top-notch universities," Guerra said.
By debating topics relevant to the Latino community, Guerra said the program hopes to boost self-confidence in its students.
"We want kids to learn how to believe in their own answers to the tough issues," Guerra said.
The National Hispanic Institute strives to provide Latino families with options and experiences and American colleges and universities. The institute works nationally and internationally to accomplish its goal of creating educational opportunities for members of the Latino community.