Junior business administration and international management major, Kathery Esqueda, will be one of the first students to represent Southeastern at Harvard University for the Latina Empowerment and Development (LEAD) Conference this February.
The LEAD conference will celebrate its 15th annual conference this year at Harvard in 2022. This conference is designed to celebrate Latinx women and help them realize their professional and overall impact on the world.
Esqueda noted that this conference is a great opportunity for Latinas to network as well as receive mentorship. She remembered first finding out about the conference and that SLU Latinas would be invited around two weeks prior to Hurricane Ida.
“When I found out, my heart was all over the place and I was just happy. I’m glad that I get to open up this opportunity to more Hispanic women because in general., It’s not only the culture you are supporting, but the women as well,” Esqueda said.
She is now preparing for the trip this February, and is working to assemble a group of other Southeastern Latinas on campus who would also be interested in attending. Dr. Aristides Baraya, the Latin America business and development institute director for the college of business, has been helping Esqueda promote and send out emails about this opportunity.
Esqueda expressed that she is very excited about this opportunity to be one of the first Southeastern students invited to attend this conference.
Esqueda added, “When I found out, my heart was all over the place and I was just happy. I’m glad that I get to open up this opportunity to more Hispanic women because in general. It’s not only the culture you are supporting, but the women as well.”
Another Latina student, junior social work major Emma Santiago, also commented on what this opportunity means for Latina representation.
“It is an amazing opportunity and I am so happy for her. Us Latinas are often one of the groups that are last thought of and to see a fellow Latina having a chance to succeed is a breath of fresh air,” Santiago said.
When it comes to her time spent at SLU, Esqueda has had a unique experience compared to other students. While she was born in Denver, she grew up in Mexico most of her life and only moved to Louisiana around three years ago at the age of 19.
While Esqueda was working on getting accustomed to college, she also had to learn English alongside her studies.
She shared that she was thankful that her professors at Southeastern were understanding and supportive of her situation and would give her help when it was needed.
“My experience at Southeastern has been good so far. I’ve made a lot of friends and people are patient with me since they know I’m learning, and they help me a lot along with my teachers. When I’ve needed extra time on tests due to my situation, they were open to help me out,” Esqueda explained.
The business student has since become the vice president of the Spanish Club, working to shine light Hispanic culture through events such as Hispanic Heritage Month. When she graduates, Esqueda would like to work with Hispanic people and nonprofit organizations with her degree.
Santiago talked about the importance of Latinx representation on campus, saying, “There are not enough initiatives to help Latinx students succeed and to promote community for us beyond the confines of a Spanish Club or ESL initiatives. We need more than that.”
Currently, Esqueda has around 11 women that will be attending this trip with her.
If any Latina students on campus are interested in the LEAD conference, they can contact her through her email [email protected] and find more information about it at https://www.harvardleadconference.org/. There is a limit of 25 students to attend and the tickets are $75 with housing and food provided.