VALHEN Has Just Concluded Its Annual Encuentro | Further Education | Teaching And Learning

VALHEN CONCLUDES SUCCESSFUL 2011 ENCUENTRO VALHEN members have just attended the 2011 VALHEN Encuentro, an interactive

conference attracting leading professors, instructors, administrators, teachers, counselors, and other professionals within the higher education community in Virginia and beyond. The Encuentro was hosted by Northern Virginia Community College (Annandale campus) on March 24th and 25th. The theme of the conference, Latinos: Growing and Driving Success in Virginia, sparked dynamic discussions as well as informal intercambios amongst the conference participants, who came from all corners of the Commonwealth. The program opened with a plenary session on “Demographics and Education: the Nation and the Commonwealth.” The panel of nationally renowned presenters included Qian Cai, Weldon Cooper Center, Richard Fry, Pew Hispanic Center, and Jonell Sánchez, College Board. The session was followed by a series of break-out sessions on such diverse topics as innovative education initiatives through service learning, the importance of entrepreneurship, financial education, and understanding diversity and cultural issues. The keynote speaker was Michael Olivas, William B. Bates Distinguished Chair in Law and IHELG Director, University of Houston Law Center. Dr. Olivas delivered a highly engaging speech entitled “The Arc of Triumph and the Agony of Defeat: Latinos in the Polity and the Danger of the Discourse.” At the end of a productive day, participants the enjoyed a festive networking reception, complete with live music provided by an Andean band. Day two of the conference began with a plenary session on Latinos-Under-Represented in Strategic Areas: STEM, Nursing, and the Public Sector. The panel again included national experts, including Pamela Moreno, Marymount University, Jorge Ponce, Office of Civil Rights, DOC, and Carlos Rodriguez, American Institutes for Research. The day’s break-out sessions facilitated lively discussion and exchanges on a variety of topics including Pathways to Baccalaureate, the Issue with Money, opportunities for college savings through 529 college savings plans, and “The Unfulfilled Promise of ForProfit Colleges and Universities.” The program closed with a plated lunch, and closing speaker José Rico, Deputy Director, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. In an earlier decade, Mr. Rico would not have been able to join us as an unexpected event required that he remain at his office. However, thanks to the miracle of technology, he was able to join the conference for his presentation via Skype. The final event was the presentation of five VALHEN scholarships awarded to Hispanic students. Indeed, between the highly informative presentations by national experts, the rich discussion among professionals, and the exchange of innovative ideas, solutions, and strategies, the entire conference was in keeping with VALHEN’s mission to support, promote, and advocate for Latinos success and advancement in higher education in the Commonwealth.

The Virginia Latino Higher Education Network (VALHEN) is the only state-wide, nonprofit, 501(c) (3) organization serving as a networking structure to support, promote, and advocate for Latino success and advancement in higher education for the benefit and betterment of the Commonwealth of Virginia. VALHEN members—all volunteers—are a network of college and university faculty, staff, administrators, and community members.

The Board of Directors of VALHEN invites you to visit the website,, for information on membership and upcoming events.

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