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Earlier this month, the Carolina Latinx Center proudly hosted its second annual conference called “La Conferencia” from April 1st to April 3rd. This action-packed weekend event was full of learning, connecting, and networking. Most importantly our theme of Pa’lante was at the forefront when planning this event. Since the beginning of the pandemic, as a community we have moved Pa’lante and will continue to do nothing short of the best.

To start the weekend off, the CLC hosted a meetup on Friday at a UNC baseball game where attendees had the opportunity to connect and network. Following our meetup, we kicked off Saturday morning with a strong opening session welcoming all our wonderful community members who we were thrilled to be able to host. Important topics such as mental health, career exploration, motherhood, and so many more valuable sessions were held. Unlike other conferences, the CLC wanted to ensure that everyone not only felt empowered but most importantly felt seen. As a Latinx community in a predominantly white institution, the feeling of not always being seen, heard, or appreciated is often one that keeps us from taking certain opportunities or putting ourselves out there.

Nonetheless, these important sessions did nothing but lift up, inspire, and celebrate our Latinx community. One session that stood out and emphasized something that we needed to hear was the session titled, “Why Failure is Essential for Success.” Throughout the presentation, Tasha Prados, a marketing business owner, and digital nomad, shared her story of becoming the successful Latina she is today and how it made her vulnerable. Having the opportunity to listen to how she embraced and overcame her mental and career setbacks was so impactful. Her rich wisdom and words of affirmation that emphasized the importance of putting one’s happiness and fulfillment first was a message we all needed to hear. As a Latinx community we often feel this burden or responsibility to always be on top and push ourselves to the absolute limit to succeed. However, it can often come at the cost of our mental health and overall well-being. I commend and thank Tasha for her inspiring presentation and hope that we can speak with her again.

Our keynote speaker for La Conferencia was Ricky Hurtado, the North Carolina House Representative for District 63 in Alamance County. As we all gathered to hear Ricky speak, you could feel the exciting energy and anticipation of his arrival. Ricky passionately shared with us his story and that of his Salvadoran parents which was inspiring and one that many could relate to. More importantly, he made our community members feel seen and even though he has achieved so much, his level of connection and relatability were comforting. Ricky’s address made it clear that he was not talking to us or at us, but with us, something that as a Latinx familia is so valued. Expressing the raw emotions and moments behind getting to where he is today was something that many of us carry. However, learning to push ourselves not only for our familias but for us and our happiness is a lesson we have been blessed enough to have bestowed upon us from Ricky and the many wonderful presenters.

Hosting our second Conferencia was nothing short of heartwarming, impactful, and exciting. We cannot wait for you all to see what we are already working on for next year and thank you all for taking the time to attend and be present. As a center, we will continue to grow from here but the seeds we have planted already excites us for what is to come.