Penn State Berks holds 10th annual Latino Forum for high school students

Keynote address is open to the local community
Poster for Javier Avila's "The Perfect Latino"
Credit: Kathryn Quinn

WYOMISSING, Pa. — As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, Penn State Berks will hold its 10th annual Latino Forum from 9:30­ a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 14. This special event is free and open to students from all Berks County high schools.

The keynote address is also open to members of the local Hispanic and Latino community. It will be held live in the college’s Perkins Student Center Auditorium, and there will also be a virtual option. Advanced registration is required at this link. A Zoom link will be sent via email to those who are attending virtually.

During the Latino Forum, high school students will visit Penn State Berks for a day of activities and a celebration of culture. Arrival and registration begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Perkins Student Center, followed by a fun game centered around the Hispanic / Latino culture at 10 a.m., and a motivational keynote address by Javier Ávila at 11 a.m. Then at 12 noon, attendees will gather in the Perkins Plaza to sample Hispanic / Latino foods and enjoy the music of a mariachi band.

Keynote speaker Javier Ávila will present a new, one-man show titled "The Perfect Latino." With Ávila’s unique blend of comedy and poetry, "The Perfect Latino" offers a close examination of the American Latino experience, taking the audience on a journey as he moves between cultures, navigating a world of misunderstandings and misconceptions. Ávila provides a fascinating perspective on what it means to balance assimilation with cultural preservation. Powerful, moving, and profoundly educational, "The Perfect Latino" transcends boundaries of color, ethnicity and geography.

Penn State Berks faculty and staff founded the Latino Forum as an outreach program to empower the underserved Hispanic and Latino students of Reading as they make life choices following high school graduation. The forum provides mentoring, inspiration and motivation for these students as they learn that higher education is desirable and attainable in spite of the many obstacles they may face. Past attendees have returned to campus throughout the semester to participate in various programs, while others actively pursued some form of higher education, inspired by the stories of those they meet at the forum.  

Another goal of the Latino Forum is the celebration of the Hispanic / Latino culture and identity, as well as a commitment to the community. The Latino Forum seeks to provide a safe space where faculty, staff and especially students of Hispanic / Latino heritage can reflect upon the challenges facing juniors and seniors in high school.

Belén Rodríguez Mourelo, organizer of the Latino Forum, professor of Spanish, and head of the division of humanities, arts and social sciences, explains, “Another relevant aspect of the Latino Forum is the voluntary work done by faculty, staff and students at Penn State Berks to bring this program to fruition. The organization and implementation of the forum is testament to the genuine dedication of colleagues working together in an interdisciplinary, interdepartmental manner in which different ranks, offices, students and club organizations collaborate for a common, selfless goal of reaching out to our community youth.”

This event is supported by the Penn State Humanities Institute, the Berks Campus Arts and Cultural Fund, and the Arts and Lectures Series.

For additional information, contact Belén Rodríguez Mourelo at 610-396-6332 or via email at [email protected].