“Building Bridges”

Adelante Mujer Conference inspires young Latina women


Angelina Ruckman

Otay Ranch High (ORH) sophomores Sadia Torres-Serrano and Lindsay Huizar make hand trees in one of the workshops at the Adelante Mujer Conference on April 15. The hand trees helped each student identify their individual differences and what they love about themselves.

The 30th annual Adelante Mujer Conference was hosted on April 15 at Rancho Del Rey Middle (RDRM). The conference took place at RDRM auditorium and began at 8:00 a.m.. It went on for five productive hours as young women learned about the topic of “Building Bridges.” Adalente Mujer’ is an organization where “Participants attend workshops led by female professionals who teach about life skills, academic planning, and career opportunities in fields, such as law, medicine, and other paths,” Attendees like students, parents and staff were witnesses to the discussion which emphasized the importance of empowering and inspiring young Latina women. The Co-chair of the event Brenda Murguia speaks about the purpose of the conference.

“What I hope to get out of this event is to inspire and empower the students and the people that accompanied them,” Murguia said. “I hope they learn as much as possible so they can keep going and to ensure that they can be successful with whatever role they choose to take.”

Murguia and committee member Monica Sigaroa-Sanchez honored founding members Mercedes Lopez, Hilda Cadena, Sonia Lopez, as well as many others during the presentation. When their names were called they headed to the stage where the members received a bouquet of flowers. Not only acknowledging the hard work the founders put into the organization but it also appreciates why Adalente Mujer is so important.

“The [founders] had to be a part of this event because they wanted students to see others who looked like them [Latina women]. Representation matters,” Siagora-Sanchez said. “The committee members know that things have expanded, being a Latina comes in all shapes and sizes and so we wanted students to see other females and other Latinas have professional careers.”

Once the presentation moved forward, everyone was released to go to their first session out of the three. In these sessions, topics ranged from physiology to academics. One session held was called ‘Latina Women in Leadership and Higher Education.’ During this session co-presenters, Monica Gonzalez and Ariela Canizal shared their personal experiences and stories about their journey into higher education.

“It’s important to talk to young women about careers, personal development and human development. It’s a fun way of making sure that the participants know that there are other people that can do that, and we can teach them how to do so,” Canizal said. “I hope that they know there’s other people out there that are willing to help them out. If they can see two Latinas, (my co-instructor and I) presenting then they can see themselves in that and we’re making it possible.”

After their personal presentations, the co-presenters initiated an activity for the student attendees. In this activity participants traced out their hand to create a tree and were instructed to write, “I am supported by” at the base of the tree, “I am grateful for” on the tree trunk, and “I love” and “I am” on the leaves. Gonzalez expresses why these interactive activities are important.

“People can relate to topics or take things into a different perspective. Everyone has different stories and sometimes those stories can be weaved through different themes,” Gonzalez said. “I think being able to hear others being themselves also empowers them to be who they want to be. It’s very important to be able to consider things differently.”

After session one concluded, participants had a 10 minute intermission to get to the next session. Many people participated in sessions that involved financial aid, mental health, psychology and more. Murguia hoped that the workshops have influenced the women that attended.

“We’re no longer the minorities in our fields and we’re starting to be noticed more [in the world],” Murgia said. “I hope the students take that information with them and that they know they’ll see familiar Latina faces in different fields who they can look up to.”

After both sessions, there was only one left which many women–parents and students included–attended. It was “Moving Outside your Comfort Zone and Following your Passion” presented by National City Middle School (NCMS) teacher, Andrea Currier. In this presentation, Currier shared her stories for her passion for traveling. Currier wanted to inspire many Latinas to reach their goals.

“Sometimes we don’t see ourselves in the media and in public the way that we should. We [young Latina women] should share with each other our stories and our dreams,” Currier said. “It is impactful to see yourself in someone else’s shoes and to know that while maybe you don’t see [representation] too often, it is there. There’s [always] someone representing your community for you and there is someone to follow in that lead.”

Additionally, Currier led an activity that encouraged attendees to understand what their dreams are and how to achieve them. Everyone was instructed to quickly write down the first dream that came to mind.

“I hope to inspire young Latinas to pursue whatever dream they have in their hearts and go forward in a positive way, [to] make a positive difference and live out their dreams. I want them to understand that anything is possible,” Currier said.

After five minutes of self reflection, Currier asked a series of questions. She explained to the participants that the first thing you thought of is what you wrote. Her first question was, “What is something around the room?”. Her second, “What is your dream?”. Finally, her last “What are you afraid of?”. Many people wrote down the first thing that came to mind and therefore received the answer they were looking for. Currier finally explained what she hoped to get out of the activity.

“Sometimes we put limitations on ourselves or society puts limitations on us and I want them to know that there are no limitations. Those limitations are false creations. I want them to know that their dreams are possible as long as they take one step at a time,” Currier said.

Finally the last session came to an end. Many of the presenters and conference members hoped to accomplish multiple things: to inspire, educate and empower young Latina women to become catalysts of their own lives and communities. To conclude the event, Murigia wanted everyone to take home a piece of the conference that inspired them. 

“I want them to go home knowing that they’re not alone, that there’s a group of people that they can count on, and that we’re all here to help them out as much as possible. They can definitely come to us and hopefully they’ll build a relationship with someone [at Adalente Mujer],” Murigia said. “Or at least be inspired by someone here, knowing that they also can reach out to the presenters and ask questions later on in life. I hope that today everybody leaves with knowledge and they come back next year.”