FHLA Club helping students reach education goals

Weiser High School’s Future Hispanic Leaders of America encourages students to reach their future goals after high school. Members of FHLA, from left, Josh Negrete, vice-president; Paloma Almanza, secretary; Julissa Olivo, president, Juana Pulido, advisor. Not pictured Danika McCune. Photo by Phil Janquart
Philip A. Janquart
There are a number of ways students can receive assistance when attempting to plot out their educational course following graduation, but there is one designed to help Hispanic students navigate what can be a confusing process.
 Future Hispanic Leaders of America Club was founded by Luis Caloca of Vallivue High School and Jose Soto of Glenns Ferry High School in 1997. A chapter was started in Weiser that same year. What started out with four schools has now grown to 18 schools and hundreds of members in southern Idaho, according to the organization’s website.
 The purpose is to help Hispanic and Latino youth succeed in going beyond high school, as well as to promote cultural pride and civic engagement.
 It also aims to reduce the drop-out rate, to stimulate involvement in schools and community activities, to motivate Hispanic students to reach their maximum potentials, and to promote awareness of the consequences of alcohol and substance abuse.
 Weiser’s FHLA President Julissa Olivo, now in her third year with the club, said her membership has opened many doors.
 “FHLA focuses on helping students reach a high education,” said Olivo, a senior who will be attending the University of Idaho next fall, majoring in horticulture, urban agriculture, or graphic design. “We promote whatever you feel fits you best, whether that’s the work force, trade school, or college or university. We try to help you get connected with people who help you get there, and that’s on top of the counselors here at the school.”
 Historically, Hispanic students have faced difficult challenges when it comes to attending high school, much less college, according to Weiser FHLA Vice President Joshua Negrete.
 “Sometimes if they just move here (from outside the country), there can be a language barrier,” said Negrete, a junior who plans on pursuing psychology or marketing. “There are some students that don’t necessarily speak English as a second language.”
 In that case, the club becomes more than a source where students can flesh out their respective futures.
 “I feel like it gives people, especially Hispanics, a place where they can fit in,” said senior and FHLA Secretary Paloma Almanza, who wants to pursue a career in social work.
 The club meets monthly and is already looking forward to the 9th annual Hispanic Healthcare and Technology Careers Conference to be held April 15, 2023 at the College of Southern Idaho.
 The event is a chance for Hispanic students to learn about different careers in health and technology, and connect with role models and mentors in respective industries. The keynote speaker for this year’s event is Microsoft Project Manager Gina Moreno.
 Proceeds from the event will go toward student scholarships, organization of STEM discovery events, and sending students to professional development opportunities.
 “I’ve attended for three years and it’s quite nice,” said Olivo, who served as FHLA state vice president last year. “They help students realize the importance of health technology and medical fields, so they gather Hispanic medical field workers who tell their stories, how they struggled and how they made it. In my position as a state officer last year, it was our job to organize the whole conference, so we got to talk to the speakers, and it was great.”
 Weiser’s FHLA Advisor Juana Pulido said the club holds small fundraisers to get to the conference and other events.
 “There is another conference we attend, and they handed out $64,000 to a couple students,” she said. “They have to apply online and have to be at the conference to get that scholarship. They are teaching the kids the process of getting a scholarship, that this is what you need to do for whatever career or school you plan on pursuing or attending, and that’s what FHLA does. We try to find those sources and opportunities that these kids can take advantage of.”
 Negrete said he didn’t know there were Hispanic scholarships available and that FHLA is helping him navigate the process.
 “It has opened up a lot of opportunities,” Olivo said. “Scholarships are one of the most important things, as well as the connections. Without this club, I wouldn’t have the connections I’ve had or the help to find Hispanic resources up at the University of Idaho.”
 For more information about the club, contact Juana Pulido at pulidoj@weiserschools.org.


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