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Student Conference On Latino Affairs

Stephanie Cannon '06 July 31, 2013 11:40 AM

By Trey Bodwin ’13 

The Student Conference on Latino Affairs at Texas A&M is one of the largest programs of its kind in the nation. Commonly known as SCOLA, this two-day event has pioneered programs for Latino students for more than 25 years. 

The conference’s mission is to raise awareness within the Latino community while enhancing professional leadership qualities. Participants are able to attend a series of workshop sessions that relate to educational and societal issues. “Our job as a conference is to broaden the scope of leadership and identity,” said SCOLA’s advisor, Melanie Weiser.

Weiser oversees the organization’s nine student directors—eight who are in charge of the conference’s administration, operations, workshops, finances, entertainment, programs, marketing and research, plus Gonzalo Rodriguez ’15, a political science major from Laredo who will serve as the 2014 conference director. Rodriguez has been with the conference for three years and calls the organization “a home away from home.”

Each year, the organization starts from the ground up, developing new ways to make each conference better than the last.

“We want our participants to take what they know, mold it, and transform it into ways that will benefit the world around them,” Weiser said. As a result, students from colleges across the country now look to SCOLA as the blueprint for starting similar programs on their campuses. “Sharing our best practices and information allows us to help educate and inspire other Hispanic/Latino students all over the country,” Weiser said.

Weiser has seen the organization grow from a small event to a conference with nearly 200 participants from different schools. During the 25th annual conference, the organization was able to bring 23 speakers, thanks in part to donors to The Association of Former Students’ Annual Fund.

“Being able to bring speakers to our conference is important,” Weiser said. “And without The Association’s help, we couldn’t have brought these speakers here.”

Former students who once participated in SCOLA often come back and speak to current students about their experiences. The Texas A&M Hispanic Network—one of The Association’s chartered Constituent Networks—has continuously supported the organization over the years through their speaking, mentoring and sponsorships. “SCOLA reminds the Texas A&M Hispanic Network that their legacy is still living,” Weiser said.

“What someone says can have a lasting effect,” she said.  “That’s why our goal is to continue growing and allow students to walk away with a valuable experience.”

Financial support of SCOLA is just one of the many ways Texas A&M is impacted by the generous donors to The Association's Annual Fund. Click to see more ways in which your gifts make an impact on Texas A&M students, faculty and staff

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