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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Annual Pilipino/a Youth Conference celebrates thirteenth year

The 13th Annual Pilipino/a Youth Conference (PYC) took place at UC Davis from Feb. 7 to Feb. 9. The conference was hosted and sponsored by BRIDGE, the UC Davis Pilipino/a Outreach and Recruitment Club and the Student Recruitment and Retention Center (SRRC).

PYC is a three-day event that aims to promote higher education to high school students around the Bay Area. Students from areas in which higher education is not typically promoted are specifically contacted and asked to join the conference. Conference attendees came from areas such as Stockton, Vallejo and Union City.

Michael Baliton, a second-year biological sciences major and intern for PYC said that the conference is geared towards Pilipino/a students, but anyone is welcome.

“The goal is to promote higher education for students who may not know what their options are,” Baliton said.

The conference cost $30 to apply. Some money provided by BRIDGE was put aside for payment plans for students who could not afford the application fee. BRIDGE and the SRRC sponsored the rest of the event. The SRRC is funded through the UC Davis Facilities And Campus Enhancement (FACE) Initiative, which allocates $18 from every undergraduate student’s tuition to facilities on campus.

High school students were supplied a hotel for two nights and three days of workshops during the conference. The conference was made up of an assortment of workshops addressing art, culture, education and activism. They were based around the Pilipino/a culture and self-identity, social and political activities to help youth get involved with the community, cultural dance and verbal expression.

“The goal is to teach high school students about Fil-Am culture with an overall theme of higher education,” said Robyn Huey, the community mentorship advocacy coordinator for BRIDGE. “They come from environments that don’t promote higher education and may not have mentors who can help them. It’s awesome to see them come to UC Davis and thrive.”

Creating a sense of community for students was another one of the main goals for the conference. The community can help show students that even people in their positions can make it to college.

“Students are unaware of the resources available,” said Jessica Page, a recruitment coordinator for BRIDGE. “This gives them a space to talk about college and meet college students who have been through similar struggles.”

Abby Saavedra, a second-year psychology major and an intern for PYC, said she is happy to be a part of the conference because she wants to be able to pass on the knowledge she has gained since starting college.

“PYC is a way for us, as established college leaders, to give back to the community and high schoolers,” Saavedra said. “We’ve been there before and now it’s our turn to help them.”

Jonathan Abel, another recruitment coordinator for BRIDGE, thanked PYC for being what first brought him to Davis and leading to him apply later on.

“I got dragged to PYC. I really didn’t want to go,” Abel said. “But it gave me a voice and helped me find my own path. The community atmosphere also empowered me to think of things other than myself.”

Although this is the thirteenth year for PYC, Huey said that high school recruitment through the Pilipino/a clubs on campus has been going on since 1987. It was originally done through Mga Kapatid (MK), which is still a club on campus today.

“Outreaches give students a chance to explore campus and talk to people who come from the same places as them,” Huey said.

BRIDGE received help from many groups within the UC Davis Filipino-American community in the workshops that were put on for the conference. Roles for PYC  included volunteers and interns who helped with outreach and paperwork, organizers for the event, chaperones for high school students and speakers for workshops.

Michael Bolos, the gender and sexuality coordinator for BRIDGE, worked with PYC coordinators and counselors to ensure an equal and fair treatment for everyone attending the conference.

“I help educate people on marginal identities, different intersectionalities and how to be inclusive for all identities,” Bolos said. “I personally come from a disadvantaged background, and I’m glad that there are people to put on these conferences. I think it would have been very important for me if I had had the chance to go.”

Abel said that this year’s PYC was a great success. About 145 high school students were accepted to the conference, but 50 dropped out due to the rain. Abel said that the drop in numbers was fortunate, because there may not have been enough resources to supply for all 145 of the students.

“I couldn’t have asked for it to turn out any better,” Abel said. “The rain was actually a blessing.”

Huey said that a mural representing PYC went missing from Olson Hall on the Saturday morning of the conference.

“Since the conference is over, we aren’t as intent to find it, but we still want to try since one of our counselors spent a lot of time and effort painting it,” Huey said.

Upcoming events with BRIDGE include a benefit concert that will supply scholarships to Pilipino/a UC Davis applicants and a picnic with high school students.

“We have a lot of chances for high school students to come back and get exposed to college,” Abel said. “PYC is not just a one-time thing.”

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