On February 24th the BUENO CAMP students arrived at the Drury Plaza, host of the 2022 HEP CAMP Southwest Student Leadership conference. This is not only the conference’s 12th anniversary, but it was a return to form after having to host the conference in a virtual setting the previous year. The 30 BUENO CAMP scholars joined 150 other HEP and CAMP students from the neighboring states to attend academic workshops, motivational keynote presentations, and team-building and networking activities across the three-day conference. Also attending the conference were Arizona Western College, West Texas A&M, University of New Mexico, Adams State University, Metropolitan State University Denver, among other institutions of the southwest.
In reflection, BUENO CAMP Director, Dr. Robert Garcia mentions “It was nice to be back together in person. We did our best to offer the conference virtually, but you can tell, returning to an in-person format allowed for a more authentic experience, where the students can walk away inspired, motivated and closer than ever.” The Drury Plaza in Santa Fe has been host to the conference since 2015, which has proven to be a great location for such a conference. Santa Fe serves as a great middle ground for all the programs traveling from across the southwest and the location, in the heart of the historic downtown district of the city, suits the conference well.
Among the highlights from this year’s conference were the workshops, with topics that ranged from career development, community activism, creative writing and poetry, to STEM field exploration, professional communication and True Colors, a personality investigation led by BUENO CAMP’s Jessely Chaparro and Gisela Cardenas. Ms. Cardenas explains, “one, maybe unexpected but important outcome of us offering this presentation was the fact that we presented it in English and Spanish. Not only was the content made more accessible for all participants, it was a true example of students learning more about themselves and identifying strengths within other personality types that they will take with them into the future.”
An additional highlight that several BUENO CAMP students lauded was the conference’s featured, keynote speaker Dr. Lisa Ramirez, Director of the Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC. Dr. Ramirez, who once served as the Director of Migrant Education, delivered an inspiring and emotional speech that was autobiographical in format but also served as a mandate to all students to persevere despite their barriers and limitations. Having returned to Santa Fe after two years because of a devastating pandemic, Dr. Ramirez’ charge to be resilient in difficult times was the perfect theme for participants, who were all proving their own resilience in their pursuit of higher education success.