By Luis Torres
Correspondent Getting young Latinas started on the right path to college and careers is
the goal of an all-day conference scheduled for April 21 at Pasadena
More than 1,500 middle school and high school girls are expected
to attend the 18th annual Adelante Mujer Latina conference which is
organized by the nonprofit Pasadena Youth Center. (Adelante Mujer
Latina translates to “Go Forward, Latin Woman.”)
“We expect will have the largest attendance of girls in the history
of the event,” said PYC executive director Stella Murga. She said
young women will be able to participate in a number of workshops
led by professional Latinas in such fields as law, medicine, science,
theater, music and education.
“These workshops give girls a chance to hear first-hand about
professional careers from successful women who will give them
guidance about how they achieved success and about the many
opportunities available to them,” she said.
Students from the San Gabriel Valley and throughout Los Angeles
County will get advice and encouragement about how to prepare
for college and how to take the necessary steps to pursue
“It’s important for students to start early, to know which
courses to take to prepare them to apply to college,” said Murga.
“And this conference does a great job of providing that for them,
among other things.”
More than one hundred women representing a variety of fields
will conduct workshops.
“These professional women serve as role models for young Latinas
and give them a good idea of what steps they have to take to
reach their professional goals,” Murga said.
“We’re very grateful to the professional women who volunteer
their time to give the girls encouragement and direction. It
can make a big difference in a young girl’s life.”
Among those participating at this year’s conference will be
Noramay Cadena, an MIT-trained mechanical engineer who is an
executive at Boeing in El Segundo. She’ll be one of the keynote speakers.
She has volunteered at previous conferences and is a longtime
supporter of Adelante. She says she herself benefited from conferences
such as this when she was in high school in the San Fernando
Valley, giving her the kind of direction and motivation she needed.
Hers is a rather remarkable personal story. Cadena was a teenaged
single mom when she was accepted to the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology. She took her 1-year-old daughter with her to the
Boston area and applied herself equally to her studies
and to her responsibilities as a young mother.
“It took a lot of balancing and a lot of discipline,” she said.
She earned a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees at MIT. She
will share her experiences with the students at the conference.
“That is extremely important,” Cadena said. “My career wouldn’t be
what it is without the help of people who were willing to come back
to the community and share their experiences and pull us forward.”
And education is the key, she said.
“One of my messages to the girls will be that when we go out and
get educated, it’s not just a personal benefit but also a family
benefit and a community benefit as well.”
Also participating in the conference will be Karina Ortiz, a
Cal Poly Pomona student from La Cañada Flintridge. Ortiz plans
to eventually go to law school; she attended several Adelante
conferences while in in high school.
“That really motivated me to pursue higher education,” she said.
“The help and encouragement you get is very, very helpful to
young Latinas – I think this can be a life-changing event.
“From these women at the workshops, you learn what obstacles
they had to overcome and how they did that, and you get the
sense that ‘I am not alone and I can really achieve
More information about the conference can be obtained by
contacting the Pasadena Youth Center at pasadenayouthcenter.org.