Hermanas Conference

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Luz Osuna talks about a project that Intel Employees and Maricopa County Community Colleges recently hosted called “Hermanas Conference” that discusses high skilled opportunities for young Latinas.

Jose Cardenas: Arizona is directly tied to Mexico to through business, travel and culture the new president signed a major reform plan that the Mexican government says will bring more opportunities for American companies to do business south of the border AZPM producer reports.

SOT: Enrique until . In his first month in office, he signed a pact for Mexico that brought together the country's three major political parties, something that had never been done before.

Now, what this means is that the gridlock that we have been having in the previous administrations has been dealt with.

Alfonso De Alba, deputy consul at the Mexican consulate in Tucson, says the agreement has reforms. Every one has a set timeline for when the Mexican president wants to see changes. The plan lays out improvements to job growth, transparency in corruption, civil rights an security.

The thing that this government has chosen to do is not give the security issues the highest priority given that that is being dealt with. We'll have a new national police force, the state police forces are going to be paired up so that everybody has the same procedures and the rule of law can be applied evenly. We'll also change the court systems. The real focus that this government wants to do and something that is seen both in California and Texas, and Arizona, is that the economic links between the U.S. and Mexico are just vital. Economic growth is going to drive down violence when we have opportunities for young people, when we have trade going through fluently, then opportunities are going to make the violence go down as they do in all developed countries.

he says some of the changes in Mexico's economy will directly affect Arizona businesses.

First of all we'll have banking reform in Mexico where private commercial banks will be able to lend more easily. There's going to be to the manufacturing sector in Nogales right across the border but also the rest of Sonora and the rest of Mexico.

he says the changes in manufacturing will bring opportunities for Americans who want to invest in Mexico.

What's really going to be important for Americans given the situation of the economy here is that Mexico's really picking up speed. We're going through an economic renaissance now given that we're a lot closer than some other companies in Asia and that we have culture of understanding between our nations, it's just really makes sense that manufacturing can go on in Mexico with American designers and also producers. One has to take into account that a lot of the production actually most of the production in Mexico is made with American parts, so symbiotic relationship. As the Mexican economy picks up there's going to be a lot of opportunities.

most people in Mexico will be affected by these reforms in one way or another. Arizona residents will also have a role as Mexico evolves.

we're going to have a lot more dialogue with people here in southern Arizona. We have a very fruitful relationship with the government here and we're going to be looking to expand our activities to deal with the business community in southern Arizona, try to make the matches that need to be made so that people from here have counterparts in Mexico and that dialogue is increased.

This is something U.S. officials also want to promote. Tucson mayor Jonathan Rothschild has been working with Mexican officials to strengthen economic ties and build new opportunities.

Jose Cardenas: Intel employees and Maricopa County community college recently hosted the her manas conference designed to introduce young Latino girls to stem careers and majors in the fun and interactive way. Joining me is Luz Osuna. She has been volunteering at the conference for several years. Welcome to "Horizonte."

Luz Osuna: Thank you.

Jose Cardenas: that's quite a title that you have. If you don't mind we'll refer to you as an engineer.

Luz Osuna: yes.

Jose Cardenas: I take it other people from Intel who have participated, they are professionals trying to set an example.

Luz Osuna: Correct. The conference was actually started by a group of women, Intel employees, concerned about the lack of representation of minority women in the areas of stem, which is science, technology, engineering and mathematics. They created this conference to introduce girls to stem, and encourage them to go to college in these fields.

Jose Cardenas: When did that start?

Luz Osuna: In 2005 . That was when we -- Intel held the first conference.

Jose Cardenas: We have heard a lot about stem and the importance of those activities. There are people who have been focused on this. It certainly is an issue for minorities, trying to get them interested in these areas. One of the things I would like you to comment on is whether you think it's working and what's the best way to get them involved in these kinds of activities.

Luz Osuna: I think that the best way is to reach out to students at a young age. Middle school, starting in middle school age, and we feel that it is working because 65% of the girls who attend the conference go on to enroll at community college.

Jose Cardenas: You do this more than once a year, this last one was kind of for the west valley high schools.

Luz Osuna: Right.

Jose Cardenas: you do others for middle schools and something for the east valley.

Luz Osuna: yes, we try to separate -- we separate the conference into two grade levels, middle and high schoolgirls, then we do two in the Gilbert area, two in star mountain. This year we expanded to south mountain community college.

Jose Cardenas: let's talk about what goes on at these conferences. As we described it in the introduction there's some fun activities but some very meaningful ones exposing these young women to the opportunities.

Luz Osuna: Yes, the girls get to do fun and engaging engineering activities.

Jose Cardenas: We have some pictures on the screen now of some of the attendees.

Luz Osuna: yes. They get to build things like a boat or an airplane or bridge. The workshops are meant for them to be creative and be hands on so a lot of times girls think that engineering and math and science is boring, and it's not that way at all. It requires a lot of creativity. That's the message we want to get across to the girls. They also get to interact with professional Latinas in the fields of science and engineering and math through the Latina town hall, which is session informal where the girls ask questions about anything they want.

Jose Cardenas: How many people do you typically get?

Luz Osuna: In the panel we usually have four to five people in the panel. We try to make it small so it feels more like a family, like a conversation with the girls. So that they feel comfortable to ask the questions they want to ask.

Jose Cardenas: And you said they get to ask anything they want. What's a typical question?

Luz Osuna: They ask things like what do you do as an engineer, how can I pay for college, what do you like about your job, they ask what challenges have you faced.

Jose Cardenas: Is there any discussion of what some of the other guests we have had on that talk about special challenges for Latinas. Some of them are cultural. Parents who at a minimum don't want their daughters moving out of the house until they are married. They may support them for higher education, but even that sometimes becomes an issue.

Luz Osuna: Yes. I think there's a perception that stem fields are not for women or are just for men, and they are not definitely but the perception that they are nontraditional for Latinas. When I talk to the girls and ask what do they want to be when they grow up they usually say things like doctors and lawyers. While those are great, we need more Latinas in engineering because our country has a shortage ever engineers. Stem fields are viable options for girls, you know, they are not just for men. They are careers that are very rewarding and very fun. So it's just another option that they are usually not aware of.

Jose Cardenas: How readily do you think they can relate to people like you who have been through it. You've been to ASU, you got your degree, working at Intel. Do they think they can communicate with you in a way that might be different than if it was a white anglo man?

Luz Osuna: That is the purpose of the town hall. We try to get Latina women who are engineers so they can relate. I think they are understand a lot of the challenges that some of us face. They deal with their fathers and mothers not being encouraging of their interests in math or science or other members of their community saying just do something else. That's too hard for you. So we tried to make it so that they can relate. I think it's been successful--

Jose Cardenas: Do you share some of your own personal stories?

Luz Osuna: That's right.

Jose Cardenas: is there anything about your own background you think particularly relates to the young women you're seeing?

Luz Osuna: I think that when I graduated high school I was the first in my family. Not a lot of people from high school went to college. The ones who did didn't go into engineering. So when I got to college I was by myself. I needed a network of people to relate to. When I got to my classes I found I was first of all one of three girls and then probably the only Latina in the class. Yes, I try to share that with the girls and tell them it's not impossible. I finished in engineering. Now I'm working at Intel. It's a great job.

Jose Cardenas: it's a great story, a great inspiration. Thank you for sharing that story and the work you're doing with us on "Horizonte."

Luz Osuna: Thank you.

Luz Osuna

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