Students from Woodland High School attend Latino Youth Leadership Conference


Students from Woodland High School’s multilingual learner program joined others from around the region at the Clark County Latino Youth Leadership Conference at Washington State University Vancouver on Oct. 7. 

The event was organized by Latino Leadership Northwest, a nonprofit that is dedicated to helping Latino students thrive and excel. 

Carlotta Propersi, a multilingual teacher at Woodland High School, had her students attend the event remotely for the past few years during the COVID-19 pandemic. This year marked the first time the students were able to attend the event in person, stated a news release. 

“Initially, I didn’t know if we would have a lot of interest, but after I let our students know, we hit the maximum enrollment of 40 students from our school with many more on a waitlist,” Propersi stated in the release. “The conference provided our students with a variety of incredibly valuable opportunities, so we certainly plan to attend every year from now on.”

At the event, students partook in a variety of workshops, which focused on topics that ranged from pursuing higher education to financial aid. They also learned about entrepreneurship, how to start businesses or how to craft resumes. 

Various Latino professionals who live and work in Clark County came to share their life stories and expertise with the students, according to the release.

Dr. Jaime A. Nicacio, a medical doctor with PeaceHealth, provided the workshop “From the Fields to Medical School.” Nicacio explained he harvested crops before he started his journey to become a doctor. 

Josselin Diaz-Montoya, a sophomore at Woodland High School, plans to attend college to become a lawyer and help others. 

“I learned that not everything in life is easy and you need to work hard,” Diaz-Montoya stated in the release. “When you find something that is important to you, you have to put it in your heart and work hard to be the example of what you want.”

The release stated many of the students had never visited a college campus prior to the event. 

“Experiences are so important and visiting a college campus can help inspire and motivate students to think of opportunities in a way they may not have before,” Propersi stated in the release. “We were so happy to take a full enrollment of students to experience everything the conference had to offer.”

Yuri “Tatiana” Sanchez-Oporto, a sophomore at Woodland High School, enjoyed seeing WSU’s Vancouver campus. 

“My favorite part was touring the college,” Sanchez-Oporto stated in the release. “I plan to work hard to get what I want. I want to find a career, earn money and succeed at life.”

Another sophomore, Luijille Goloya, enjoyed meeting and networking with others from the area. She explained the difficulty of learning a new language alongside taking high school classes. Goloya plans to become a nurse and is also thinking about starting a bakery.  

“I started attending Woodland in the eighth grade and discovered how hard it is to learn English and take courses at the same time,” Goloya stated in the release. “At the conference, I really enjoyed attending ‘the Mindsets of Design Thinking.’” 

Diaz-Montoya also had difficulty learning English when she first moved to Woodland from Honduras, the release stated. 

“Moving to a new country where you cannot speak a single word of the language is extremely challenging,” Diaz-Montoya said. “However, I feel like I can communicate with people better now, and I work closely with my younger sister so we can both practice our language skills. My sister is very motivated to learn new things and often asks me to help teach her.”