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Student-Run Programing

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TREE Conference

Student-Run Programing Provides Connection

OU’s Student Life provides avenues through which students can connect with their campus and community. One such avenue is Latino Student Life, which hosts a variety of events, services, organizations, and involvement opportunities throughout the year.

TREE Conference

“Latino Student Life as a whole is about connecting students in the campus to a community in which they feel comfortable and in which they feel safe and welcomed,” said Matt Cancio, Assistant Director for OU Student Life and the Latino Student Life Advisor.

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, organizations housed under Latino Student Life are holding several events and educational components, including a trip to an OKC Energy soccer match, HHM Poetry Slam, and a Latin Dance Club: Dance Workshop.

Some other notable student-run programs held at OU include the Tomás Rivera Educational Empowerment (TREE) Conference, Latinos Without Borders, and Day of the Dead Festival.

This year’s Day of the Dead Street Festival will be held from 2-10 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 29, inside Lloyd Noble Center on OU’s campus. Admission is free, and the event will feature a variety of cultural vendors, artists, entertainers, and traditional programming.

Latinos Without Borders and TREE Conference both aim to help empower students and provide them resources for the college application process, with Latinos Without Borders targeting high school freshmen and sophomores and TREE focusing on seniors.

One student heavily involved in the planning of TREE Conference is Bryan Sandoval, a junior electrical engineering major. Sandoval, who was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and grew up in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is the president of Omega Delta Phi, the fraternity that puts on TREE.

When he was in high school, Sandoval attended the conference and enjoyed the experience, atmosphere, and the connections he made there. The day features workshops, a career fair, and many other resources that focus on education empowerment. Around 450 students came to the conference last year, and counselors and sponsors attended as well.

TREE Conference

In addition to programing, scholarships are awarded at TREE. In 2016 alone, $20,500 in scholarship money was awarded to 17 recipients, and these students can attend any university to redeem their scholarships, not just OU.

“At the end of the day, it’s a conference to help empower students to encourage them to move onto higher education, whether that be at OU or somewhere else,” Sandoval said.

This year’s TREE Conference is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 17, and registration goes live on Sept. 22. Click here for more information and to register.

For Sandoval, growing up not being exposed to higher education and having limited resources has fueled his desire to give back to other students.

“I’ve always wanted to give back to the students who lack the resources to come to college, not only just college in general but also people from my background, people from my community, whether Hispanic or not,” Sandoval explained. “I have a lot friends who struggled through the same type of problems, are limited on resources, limited on scholarships, so just giving back to my community in general and being involved in organizations that do so makes me feel great. That’s what human beings are made for. They’re made for moving forward and giving back. I love giving back.”

In the over a year and a half that he has worked in OU Student Life, Cancio said he has enjoyed fostering and building relationships with students.

“I’ve really been heavily, heavily involved in the community aspect and the community building of OU, and there is a vibrant, beautiful, bright community here of Latinx and Latino students,” Cancio said. “I find the community here to be as diverse and robust as I was hoping and expecting, and with new students and one of the quickest growing populations that is on campus, I think that’s just going to be even more necessary and more intentional moving forward with how we develop the community.”

Visit the OU Student Life website to learn more about Latino Student Life and events and involvement opportunities at OU.