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HACU’s 30th Annual Conference as a USDA-HSI Student Scholar
A Reflection By: Amy Leon
The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) hosts an annual conference to promote greater Hispanic participation in scholarships, internships and other such programs provided by its partnering organizations. This year’s conference was held in San Antonio, Texas from October 8-10, 2016. There were about 600 students in the Student Track. The organizers of this event planned out an agenda for our weekend filled with different, informative workshops. Through these workshops I gained a lot of knowledge on professional etiquette and personal skills. We had workshops on creating our personal brand, resume building development, preparing for interviews, and discovering our leadership characteristics. We also had a financial literacy boot camp where we learned about the importance of budgeting our money. In addition, we had a federal career panel where representatives spoke about internships, scholarships and other career opportunities, such as with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA, also known as the people’s department, is one of the largest federal agencies. I learned that USDA isn’t only for farmers, as it offers employment to a multiple of college majors, for instance in business or public administration, which I am currently pursuing through the Imperial Valley University Partnership.
At the conference, we had an Exhibit Hall where I had the opportunity to network one-on-one with individuals from different USDA agencies, such as the U.S. Forest Service, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, in particular, spending time with a representative from USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. I was stunned by the interesting words of advice she gave me for being successful as a professional, that “stories build success,” which brings forth the idea that one must be good in storytelling in order to help you network with people who may become future employers or facilitate connecting you to future job prospects.
My trip to San Antonio, Texas will definitely be a good story to tell and has been a great place to start networking and looking into graduate school. My attendance to HACU’s 30th Annual Conference has shown me so many interesting opportunities available. For example, the HACU-National Internship Program (HNIP) is a useful source to receive a paid internship. HACU works with its partnering organizations on accommodating applicants with internships in various areas and locations of interest, such as with the USDA, being one of the partners with HACU in developing the next generation of dedicated public servants and business leaders.
Aside from the educational side of my trip, I was able to enjoy the beautiful city as well. I had the chance to experience my first flight and trip to San Antonio, Texas, visiting the historical Alamo, eating a Whataburger, and touring around the well-known river walk. I felt at home from the moment I arrived and was greeted with delicious pan dulce, meeting other students like myself throughout my stay.
My trip to HACU’s 30th Annual Conference was an amazing experience! And I wouldn’t have been able to do all of it without my sponsorship from the USDA. I’m really grateful to the USDA-HSI program for giving me the opportunity to further grow on a professional and personal level.