February 26th, 2015 kicked off Ephrata High School’s first trip to the annual LEAP conference in Tacoma, Washington. Attending the trip were EHS GEAR UP sophomores Babbie Cedillos, Raquel Rodriguez, Luis Navarro, Alexander Escalera, Jason Silva and Gerardo Ramirez. The weekend long event was dedicated several hours of educational seminars, activities and speeches to focus on potential hardships for students of Hispanic descent. These included finding ways to cope with discrimination, information on how to attend and succeed in college as an undocumented student, and countless success stories from various teachers, leaders and politicians. University of Washington Tacoma also treated students to a campus tour, showcasing the unique historical buildings that the university renovated into an open, welcoming environment.
On Friday, the students spent Legislative day in the state Capitol meeting representatives from their district, Representative Manweller, and Representative Dent. They addressed common problems that the students collaborated on with their peers on the previous day, such as college grants and scholarships, high school mental health aid, and issues regarding the DREAM act. During the dinner ceremony, State Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu spoke to the students about her past and how, no matter your upbringing, you can achieve great things with great determination.
Saturday consisted of several workshops that the students were able to choose from and attend, ranging from discussions of the history of Mexican Americans, College survival tips, filling out the WASFA, and future career choices. The trip was a huge success and the students were grateful for the opportunity.